Secret sculpture garden to become new attraction for Dublin

Fine art: Substantial exhibitions in Kerry and Dublin showcase life-sized sculptures

Two sculpture exhibitions well worth a visit have now opened their doors to the public.

The Modern Irish Sculpture exhibition is currently being held in the Butter Market in Kenmare – originally an open air butter market in the 1800s and subsequently the Silver Slipper Ballroom, and later Hallisey’s Cash and Carry. Curated by Jackie Ball, Ana Duncan and John Goode, it showcases more than 70 contemporary works, including many large-scale sculptures.

All the sculptors featured, including Eileen MacDonagh, Alva Gallagher, Bob Quinn, and Martin O’Keefe, have built both national and international reputations, with works included in private and public collections around the world.

Part of Kenmare’s Arts Festival 2022, and running until July 24th, the showcase also includes humorous works by Michael Quane.

A member of Aosdána and a fully elected member of the Royal Hibernian Academy since 2004, Quane has received numerous awards including The Solomon Gallery Sculpture Award 2018, De Vere’s Award for a Work of Distinction, also in 2018, as well as receiving the ESB Moran Silver Medal for Sculpture. His work can be found in the National Botanic Gardens in Dublin, Mayorstone Garda Headquarters in Limerick, and Dúchas in Killarney.

Now based in West Cork, he is “drawn to the human binary of passion and prudence, risk and safety”. Describing his adolescence as Huck Finn style, he began studying science before finally realising his passion and embarking as an undergraduate at art college.

Two pieces feature his iconic life-size diver-man: Anthrobuoyed, carved from elmwood with graphite and pigment, has the fellow straddling a pink creature that looks like a cross between a snail and a duck, while in Wet Suit and Wings, a full-size bronze on a steel plinth, he is wearing armbands along with his diving suit and fins. The works will bring a smile to anyone who loves the water, while those who fear the sea will appreciate the hint of trepidation in his expression.

Art in the garden

Meanwhile, in excess of €1 million worth of life-sized art is now on exhibition at 27 South Frederick Street in Dublin. On the back of the success of Art in the Garden, which Gormley’s Fine Art ran at Russborough House and the Culloden Hotel in Belfast, the company has renovated two gardens at its gallery in Dublin 2, which will be a permanent home for the collection of 60 works. Patrick O’Reilly, Giacinto Bosco, Salvador Dalí, Ian Pollock, Eamonn Ceannt, John Behan, Anthony Scott, Sandra Bell, Bob Quinn and Ana Duncan are featured in the showcase.

“We would love this to become a permanent stop on the Dublin tourism trail, a place where people can experience the best Irish and international artists in one place,” says James Gormley of Gormley’s.

The exhibition, which opened this week, also features work from South Korean artist Seo Young Deok, who recently exhibited on the streets of London as part of the prestigious Mayfair Sculpture week.

Deok is best-known for his hyper-realistic, life-size sculptures of human figures fashioned exclusively from hand-welded chains taken from industrial machinery and bicycles.

kenmarebuttermarket.org, gormleys.ie

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables