Rejoice in the image


The presence of James Joyce seemed to hover over those who came to view a series of images based on Ulysses at the Irish Museum of Modern Art this week.

Gerry O'Flaherty, a Joyce enthusiast, leaned on his walking stick, looking into the distance just as his hero might, before he mounted the stairs to see the collection, Imaging Ulysses (see Weekend 4).

Upstairs, Amanda Gregan, from the National Museum of Ireland, in a black and lilac ensemble and clutching an umbrella a bit like Nora Barnacle might, stood back to study the work by English artist Richard Hamilton.

The Bagnelstown-based artist, Stephen McKenna, was there sporting a dickie bow, which gave him a nice Joycean vibe too.

Cartan Finegan, chairman of Heritage Island, said he'll be one of the readers at the James Joyce Cultural Centre on North Great George's Street tomorrow to celebrate Bloomsday. To get into the character of Leopold Bloom in the Davy Byrne episode, he'll drink Burgundy, eat gorgonzola cheese and generally arrive "looking splendid".

Robert Nicholson, curator of the James Joyce Museum in Sandycove, which is 40 years in existence, said he won't fry any kidneys tomorrow. They'd only "fill the air with the fine tang of faintly scented urine", he said smirking behind round, rimless spectacles. His book, The Ulysses Guide (see Weekend 3), which was first publised 14 years ago, was re-issued by New Island last night, and launched by Ken Monaghan, nephew of the great Joyce himself.

A rock 'n' roll vibe entered the foyer when Brian Clarke, artist and executor of the Francis Bacon Estate, slipped in wearing green spider-man shades over a sand-coloured tweed suit and yellow shirt, on his way back from the Paul and Heather wedding in Castle Leslie. "I'm very interested in Hamilton, who I think will turn out to be the defining artist, along with Francis Bacon, for the 20th century," he said.

Richard Hamilton, the 80-year old artist himself, came with his wife, fellow artist Rita Donagh. With all the demands on his time, he said: "I don't get any chance to paint." And yet, he's "never happier than when I'm in my studio".

Vicenti Todoli, the incoming director of London's Tate Modern, was among the guests, as was Stephen Coppel, assistant keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, who also curated the exhibition. Gerry Dukes, the Joycean author, critic and lecturer, was also spotted.

A Dublinner at the viewing was Brian Rock, a MA student of Anglo-Irish Literature at UCD, who came with Mitchell Scholar Mathew Huenerfauth, who studied the images. "I'm a fan," he said simply.

Friends greeted Declan McGonagle, former director of IMMA, who also came to the event.