One of Ireland’s oldest cultural groups – the Dublin Painting & Sketching Club – held its first annual exhibition in 1876 at the Clarendon Horse Repository and Riding School, at the back of Trinity College.
Those premises – on what is now Pearse Street – have long since gone but the club is still going strong. Down through the years the annual exhibitions were held at various city-centre venues including the former Queen’s Institute for Educated Women in Molesworth Street and the Irish Life building on Abbey Street.
But at the end of the 20th century, the club moved to south county, to the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Hall which has hosted the event since 1998. But now the club is returning to the city centre and the 2018 annual exhibition opens on Monday (April 16th ) at CHQ on Custom House Dock.
Club president Aidan Hickey said: "For this 140th annual exhibition, the club has decided it's time to come home. Our roots are beside the Liffey. Settled there again, we can reflect on the life and energy of the city".
The venue, on North Dock close to the Custom House, was formerly known as ‘Stack A Warehouse’ – a building designed by Scottish master-architect John Rennie – now restored and renamed CHQ.
The theme of the 2018 exhibition is The River Liffey, to celebrate the club's return to its roots with member artists creating some paintings to reflect the environs.
The exhibition offers a broad choice of paintings to suit modernist and traditional tastes. Around 170 works are being shown by about 100 well-known contemporary artists, some 70 club members and additional invited artists, from Dublin and other counties.
Combined with the River Liffey themed paintings are landscapes, still life, portraiture, streetscapes, floral, animal and life studies, among other subjects. This is a selling exhibition and prices for the works – in oil, watercolour, pastels and ink, drawings, lithographs and prints – range from around €250 (for a small print or drawing) up to €4,000, with most (60 per cent) ranging between €750 and €1,000.
Among those exhibiting this year are Margo Banks, Patrick Cahill, Betty Christie, Fergal Flanagan, Bridget Flinn, Edward Freeney, Michael Gemmell, David Goldberg, Olivia Hayes, Ursula Klinger, Tomas King, Vincent Lambe, Pamela Leonard, Padraig Lynch, Pat O’Breartuin, Tom Roche, Tom Scott, Darragh Treacy, Tom Ryan and Ivan Sutton.
Mr Hickey, who is exhibiting one of his own paintings, entitled River Spirit, said: "Recently, the arrival of younger painters has revitalised the club. Many of these are art school graduates who, in defiance of establishment values, have learned to paint.
They are fine representatives of the revival of expressive painting that is changing the world of art. The ancient idea of painting as visible poetry is also returning – it will be what we look forward to seeing in years to come.”