Head to Kells for inspiration and auctions
Hinterland Festival of Literature and Arts runs alongside two-day sale
The Hinterland Festival is taking place in Kells, Co Meath. Photograph courtesy of The Hinterland Festival
This weekend’s Hinterland Festival of Literature and Arts finds a wide range of authors, playwrights and politicians – from Frank McGuinness to Lisa McInerney, Michael Harding to Gerry Adams – assembling in Kells, Co Meath, for readings, lectures and live performances. And with a two-day auction at the historic Duke Brothers building on Market Street as well as a number of quirky sessions scheduled for Ushers Auction Rooms on John Street, antiques and collecting will play a central role in the cultural action.
At his Antique and Interiors sale on Market Street, Damien Matthews is offering an eclectic catalogue of more than 1,100 lots, which will range from furniture to garden statuary, paintings to silver, pottery and china, mirrors to decorative objects.
Among the more intriguing and esoteric items to come under the hammer are a collection of 50 Edwardian photographs depicting an African safari (Lots 900-909, each lot with a guide price of €70-€120), an antique brass theodolite (Lot 588, €70-€120) and a stained-glass panel featuring the word Kinsealy from the estate of Charles J Haughey (Lot 489, €70-€120).
Furniture includes a five-drawer writing desk with carved supports and inset leather top (Lot 77, €300-€500), a Regency carved mahogany console table with marble top and carved paw supports (Lot 197, €1,200-€1,800), a pair of carved mahogany throne armchairs with lion motif (Lot 239, €600-€900) and an Elizabethan black oak armchair which originally stood in Fermanagh Castle (Lot 192, €250-€350).
Other country house items include a pair of Dutch still-life paintings in gilded frames (Lot 524, €300-€500), an Anglo-Indian brass-bound document box with fitted interior and side carry handles (Lot 181, €250-€350), a circular cast brass ceiling lantern with carved panels (Lot 259, €300-€500) and a pair of carved wooden blackamoor stands, each more than 5ft-high (Lot 264, €1,000-€1,500). Among the jewellery is a Tahitian pearl necklace (Lot 703, €700-€1,200) and an 18-carat gold gents’ Rolex Beach Daytona wristwatch in its original box, with papers (Lot 842, €17,000-€25,000); there’s also a ladies’ Rolex with case (Lot 94, €800-€1,200).
Appropriately for a literary festival, the auction includes 60 lots of antiquarian books from a private collection. And while the sale is going on, an exhibition in a side room will celebrate the life and work of the author JP Donleavy, who died last year.
It will include original paintings by the writer, some of his first editions and other literary ephemera, plus original photographs of Donleavy taken over a 60-year period. A short televised interview with the creator of The Ginger Man will also run on repeat.
Heritage is very important to Kells, and we’re proud to be part of the festival
Donleavy, who lived in a 180-acre estate, Levington Park, near Mullingar, had a public image as a reclusive and an eccentric – but Damien Matthews offers a different view. “He was a super guy with a great gift not just for the written word, but also the spoken. We did seven exhibitions of his painted works together – in London, New York and Dublin – and then I spent five straight years visiting him at his home each week.
“He enriched my life greatly – not just in the obvious ways of culture, but in how he taught me to look at people, their behaviours, and life generally. This exhibition is just my own small marking of his passing.”
Meanwhile, at Ushers Auction Rooms on John Street tomorrow, an evening of lectures will explore the worlds of art, science and music. “We held our auction early in order to facilitate these talks,” says Oliver Usher. “Heritage is very important to Kells, and we’re proud to be part of the festival.”
Music of Bob Dylan
Jonathan Creasey will explore the music of Bob Dylan (tomorrow, 6pm) while Peter Davern from the University of Limerick will read from his book, The Periodic Table of Poems, as well as demonstrating the dramatic properties of many everyday chemical elements (8pm). The sculptor Betty Newman-Maguire will also look at the influence of historic artefacts from Kells, including the Book of Kells and the town’s high crosses, on the design of Judy Chicago’s mammoth feminist sculpture The Dinner Party.
The Dinner Party – a triangular piece in the form of a dinner table with 39 place settings for historical and mythical famous women, each featuring a hand-painted china plate, ceramic flatware and elaborately embroidered napkin – stands on a tiled floor inscribed with the names of 999 women who have made a mark on history, and is on permanent display at the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
“Kells is a hinterland, really,” says Oliver Usher, “because we’re right in the centre, with Dublin on one side, Westmeath on the other, accessible from north and south.” The word “hinterland” also means “an area lying beyond what is visible or known” – and that, clearly, is what’s being explored in Kells this weekend.
Antiques and Interiors Auction, Dukes Brothers Building, Kells, Co Meath, today and tomorrow, 1.30pm. The sale items are on view today and tomorrow from 10.30 am. For online catalogue and bidding details see matthewsauctionrooms.com
For further details of the festival programme see hinterland.ie