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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: April 6, 2011 @ 2:38 pm

    New Centre of Literary Excellence for Dublin?

    Laurence Mackin

    Last night, the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibition was launched in fine style at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Hundreds took the opportunity of a glorious sunny evening to stroll through the gallery’s hall, sipping bottles of Mexican beer to the strains of Mariachi music, and catch a glimpse of some of the artwork in the thronged gallery.

    It’s a small but excellent exhibition, with Kahlo very much the star; the photographs of her and Rivera in the basement also give a fine, unexpected element to this cleverly curated event. Here is an excellent piece by Arminta Wallace on the exhibition, just in case you need further encouragement to head for Kilmainham.

    At the opening, there was much talk about Imma’s imminent renovation works, and how the gallery is looking at finding alternative spaces to use while it gives its rooms the once-over. Specifics were thin on the ground, but there were hints that the gallery is looking at some interesting alternative spaces.

    Imma won’t need to look far – this city is full of vacant, curious spaces that would make excellent exhibition spaces, something that alternative promoters and underground artists have been gleefully exploiting in recent months. One building that springs to mind is the vacant Grand Parade One office space on the canal, right next to the Charlemont Luas stop. It’s an elegant, clean-lined building with enormous windows, and at the moment it is sitting starkly empty – it would be a superb temporary gallery or venue space. Come on landlords, make Imma, or indeed any gallery, an offer they can’t refuse.

    Among those taking the microphone last night was the new Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan. He gave an upbeat speech that was warmly received and hinted at several initiatives he is currently working on. The minister said he was in detailed negotiations with the Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn on giving the arts a much more active and secure role in the education system. He also said he was “very seriously” looking at the creation of an Irish Centre of Literary Excellence in a location somewhere off Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

    Its specific role and function were not sketched out in any detail, but it seems that Dublin’s election as a Unesco city of literature has lit a fire under the new department. Perhaps its time we had an institution that did justice to our literary heritage.

    • Catherine says:

      “What is this? A centre for ANTS?!”

      I suspect we’ll be waiting a while.

    • xx says:

      Yes, I think Jimmy Deenihan is Minister for the ANTS — like we need more builders !

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