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Buying a gift of art? Here are 10 galleries to explore

Group shows at this time of year offer a range of affordable options

More thoughtful, yet far more fraught, than socks, gifting art shows your sensitive side, but where do you start? Sellers in Ireland range from purveyors of unlimited editions of prints to private galleries and auction houses where you’re very quickly adding zeros to your benevolence budget. In May this year, an Andy Warhol acrylic and silkscreen, Shot Sage Blue Marilyn, became the most expensive work of 20th century art to sell at auction, when it cost its buyer $195 million, or about €187 million. Assuming your budget is somewhat less, we’ve rounded up options to suit smaller pockets. As galleries seem to deem the idea of a Christmas sale as way too uncool, look out for the staple “winter group show” at this time of year for all your art shopping needs.

Grilse Gallery

“Art is made by individuals, not corporations, so it offers the possibility of personal, original gifts which reflect that the giver has made a specific selection,” says Grilse Gallery’s Robert Carter. The Killorglin, Co Kerry, gallery’s winter group show runs until December 24th, featuring 20 established and emerging artists, with prices from about €250, including Notions by Debbie Godsell for €375 unframed. “Prints and drawings tend to be modestly priced which makes them accessible,” Carter adds. “Unframed, they are very easy to send by mail.”

Hen’s Teeth

Dublin 8′s Hen’s Teeth has the cool, hip and definitely affordable side of art gifting wrapped up. Its end of year show, Exhibition for Dogs, by Ruan Van Vliet, has wry and breezy unlimited edition prints from €50 (for A3) to €80 (for A2), unframed. It will frame and ship worldwide as well. You’ll also find lots of other things to entice, as the Hen’s Teeth & Pals Christmas Superstore is now open on Mill Street, with more prints, homewares and gifts to attract and distract. The cafe is pretty tasty too.

SO Fine Art

Dublin based SO Fine Art specialises in limited edition prints, sculptures and other lovely things from its Powerscourt Townhouse premises and online. Find works by Michael Canning, Patrick O’Reilly, Shane O’Driscoll and more.


Its winter exhibition runs until January 7th, with etchings, drawings, paintings, photography and ceramics; prices range from €300 to €2,500. “Gifting art supports the arts community and allows our visual culture to flourish,” says SO’s Catherine O’Riordan. “It is also the gift that keeps on giving.”

The gift of friendship

If you’re not 100 per cent sure of your loved one’s tastes, you can gift the experience of art with a gallery friendship. At Kilkenny’s Butler Gallery, the price of friendship starts at €75 and the rewards – apart from the feelgood factor, obviously – include invitations to exhibitions and special friends’ events, as well as cafe and gallery discounts, right up to the ability to borrow artworks from the collection to hang at home, at the more costly patron level of €1,250.

Similar goodies are on offer with a Royal Hibernian Academy friendship, as well as studio visits and the option of overseas trips. A Christmas 2022 discount brings individual friend membership down to €54.

Hang Tough Contemporary

The Winter Print Show at Hang Tough on Dublin’s Exchequer Street has limited edition prints from 50 emerging and established visual artists promising a huge range for all vibes and tastes. On-site framers will do it for you on the spot, so you can get it all wrapped up there and then. Including works by Eileen O’Sullivan, Emma Stroude and Katka Kukla, everything is also available to browse and buy online, with prices at a uniform €150 unframed, €225 framed. December 1st-24th.

Solomon Gallery

Another winter group show, this time at Dublin’s Solomon Gallery, has works from €155 (a delicious Bernadette Madden screen print) to €12,000 (a John Behan Famine Ship sculpture). Can’t make it into town? The handy viewing room feature on the Solomon website gives you a chance to “view on a wall”, which at the very least gives a sense of scale. Can’t decide between Anthony Scott and John Short? Leah Beggs and Cléa van der Grijn? You can also pick up a gift voucher, or spoil the surprise with home viewing, where the gallery can arrange for you to more or less try before you buy. “By gifting artwork you are also directly supporting artists and galleries,” reminds the Solomon’s Bennie Reilly. Until December 23rd.

Up to your neck in art

Designer Alison Conneely has collaborated with nine international artists, including Ireland’s Alice Maher, Isabel Nolan and Jesse Jones, to create a series of silk scarves costing €150 each. Sales support the work of the United Nations reproductive-health agency. These are gorgeous, sumptuous and in a very good cause, so you might well want to gift more than one – or buy an extra to keep. Up to you whether you frame them or wear them, of course.

Dublin’s Project Arts Centre has also got in on the arty neckwear act with Orla King’s football-fan-style scarves, inspired by the vibes of the big blue Temple Bar building itself. At €20 a pop, they’re a snip. On the theatrical side, you can gift a declaration – of up to 50 characters – on one of the theatre’s nice new seats for €300.

Graphic Studio

Dublin’s Graphic Studio has invited artists to do some canal bank dreaming for its annual end of year members’ show. So if the Grand Canal holds special memories for you, a pal or a loved one, this is your chance to show how much you care. All works are €220 unframed, €330 framed, and include atmospheric and other watery takes by Ed Miliano, Josie McMorrin, Vaida Varnagiene and Elke Thönnes. Until the end of January 2023.

Limerick Printmakers

“You’re communicating that you have put time and thought into the gift-giving process,” says Limerick Printmakers’ Jess Tobin. “And you’re giving the gift of ongoing, sustained joy. An artwork can remain with someone throughout many major life changes, and continue to bring great pleasure.” Surely not something to be sneezed at. Featuring framed and unframed work by 70 studio members, from €10 (for a mini print) up to €600. Members include Gavin Hogg, Suzannah O’Reily, Fiona Quill and Clare Blackwell. December 1st-23rd.

Molesworth Gallery

Dublin’s Molesworth Gallery has a reputation for consistently interesting, often smaller works – so if the art lover in your life isn’t big on wall space this is a good bet for jewel-like treats. Of course there’s more to it than size, so check out works by artists including Mollie Douthit, Helen Blake and Gabhann Dunne (prices €550-€700). “For artists who have such a unique voice and a rigorous approach to making work, they are still very affordable; their paintings often cheaper than prints by other artists of similar standing,” says gallery director Ronan Lyons. December 3rd-23rd.

The art of words

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the National Print Museum invited six Irish writers – Sebastian Barry, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Claire Keegan and Colm Tóibín – to write original short stories. Now, handsomely printed by master printer Seán Sills, the broadsides are available as a signed, limited-edition portfolio. At €895, they’re pricey, but when words are not enough, these might well do the job.

Stoney Road Press is also continuing in the broadside theme with a limited edition of Seamus Heaney’s beautiful poem Holly. Watermarked with the poet’s signature, it costs €195 on handmade paper, in a nice portfolio, or €350 framed. (Broadsides were historically large sheets of paper, printed on one side only so they could be pasted on walls, lamp-posts and so on, announcing events, commentaries and other proclamations.)

Shop local

From Cork’s Lavit Gallery to Wicklow’s Signal Arts Centre, you’ll find winter group shows wherever you are. Check when buying an artwork at exhibition whether you’re able to take it with you there and then. If it’s a print, chances are they’ll have more than one. If it’s a painting, you may have to wait until the end of the exhibition to collect. And if you are in the market for art, don’t forget that private galleries (usually, but not exclusively in Dublin), including Kerlin, Green on Red, Kevin Kavanagh, Olivier Cornet, Taylor, Hillsboro, Origin and Doorway, can sell you art that’s not necessarily on display. If you like the work of an artist they represent, ask to see what else might be in the back room.

There are also a great many wonderful artists who aren’t represented, so if you know any nice ones in your neck of the woods, don’t be shy to ask if you might visit their studios with a view to making a festive purchase or two. Some artists announce open studios on their websites at this time of year too. So here’s wishing you a lovely arty Christmas, one and all.

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton

Gemma Tipton contributes to The Irish Times on art, architecture and other aspects of culture