A painting by Michael Flatley titled Rossmore Island is the star lot in Sheppard's auction next month. The dance star, who is currently on an international tour with his show Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games, last year announced he would be embarking on a new career as a visual artist.
He has been painting in a studio housed in converted stables at his Castlehyde estate in Co Cork where he does not use a brush but, instead, tap dances on paint-spattered canvases to create the images.
Mr Flatley has already sold two of his paintings at auction for charity. In 2011 he donated a canvas titled I to an auction, organised by Sheppard's, to raise funds for Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral, which sold for €5,600 to an unnamed Dublin businessman.
Earlier this year he donated a painting titled Opening Night to a charity auction in the London Palladium theatre which sold for £35,000 (€44.000) to a South American bidder.
However, now Flatley has decided to dip a toe into the commercial – as opposed to philanthropic – art market and Rossmore Island will go under the hammer at Sheppard's in Durrow, Co Laois, on December 4th with an estimate of between €20,000 and €30,000.
Flatley told The Irish Times the painting is one of a series he has made on the theme of the Great Famine and is an abstract depiction of the island in Kenmare Bay off the coast of Co Kerry where "a torrent of waves crash against the ghostly landscape of a once-vibrant land". He said "the broad strokes of blue, depicting an endless flow of tears, merge with the sea to obliterate the amber richness of the land; and the dark black beneath represents the plagued and tortured islanders as they struggle to escape from the vice-grips of death".
Last year, Flatley presented another of his paintings, The Walking Dead – an abstract depiction of victims of the Famine – to Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a meeting in Government Buildings. The Taoiseach was "delighted" to accept the painting "on behalf of the State", described it as "very striking indeed" and wished the artist "every success in his new chosen path".
The painting was subsequently visible in photographs taken of dignitaries visiting the Taoiseach’s office.