The ever-changing look of the Irish


An exhibition in Co Down of art loaned from private collections depicts Irish people at work and at play

A SUMMER EXHIBITION titled Ireland: Her People and Landscape offers visitors a rare chance to see art on loan from private collections and features work by leading Irish artists. The venue is the AVA Gallery at the Clandeboye Estate in Co Down.

The exhibition comprises 50 paintings, drawings and sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries and “examines the life of the Irish people and how they were depicted in art over the past two hundred years”. Inevitably, “nightlife” (ie drinking) features prominently and A Shebeen at Donnybrook by Ernest Nicol shows the interior of a mid-19th century illicit drinking den in the south Dublin village. Whiskery pint-drinkers in an early 20th century Dublin pub are the subject of The Twins by Harry Kernoff.

Among other highlights are scenes of horse racing in the The Jockey by Gerard Dillon and The Point-to-Point by Kathleen Mackie.

Richard Moynan’s wonderful Victorian painting The Travelling Show depicts the excitement of children in an Irish village during a visit by a Punch and Judy show in 1892. The artist’s most famous (and somewhat similar) painting, Military Manoeuvres, which shows a group of children pretending to be a regimental army band, is a popular exhibit in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Religious customs are represented by Sir John Lavery’s The Walnut Tree, St Patrick’s Purgatory, Lough Derg and Cork artist Diarmuid O’Ceallachain’s St Mac Dara’s Pattern. The Irish at work is the subject of various paintings including James Humbert Craig’s Loading the Turf in Connemara and Charles Lamb’s Connemara Harvesters.

Politics is represented by a large bronze, The Pikeman, sculpted by Jerome Connor and paintings including Caroline Scally’s 150th Anniversary 1798 Commemorations at Donnard, Co Wicklow (1938) and the Ruins of the Four Courts (1922) by Kathleen Fox.

David Britton, a director of Adam’s auctioneers in Dublin who organised the exhibition said it was “a non-commercial event, with all works of art on loan rather than for sale” and that private collectors had lent “some of their most prized possessions”.

Getting there: The Ava Gallery in the Clandeboye Estate is 12 miles from Belfast via the A2 road to Bangor and two miles from Bangor. Open: Monday to Friday, 11am -5pm.

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