The gallery in Lismore Castle is a fairly recent innovation, the brainchild of the current resident of the Castle, Lord William Burlington, son of the Duke of Devonshire who lives in Chatsworth House in Derbyshire in England. I have referred to this family in my blog post on Devonshire Day last month. Lord Burlington had the West Wing of the Castle renovated from dereliction to its present ultra-modern minimalist state, a wonderfully lit art gallery with some side rooms and a round tower, and a smaller room at each end of the main gallery.
Last year there was a number of installations and weird sculpture on display, including a steel plate that the artist had urinated on to make it rust! I guess this is art in the Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin tradition of, well, different! There has been a previous Turner Prize winning entry here on display also, Richard Long's Slate Walk, which was only dismantled this year, and returned to the UK. This has left a long rectangular bed in the lower garden, which would make a nice vegetable patch or flower bed.
I was absolutely blown away by the more famous works, which I felt really privileged to see, as most were from private collections and going to auction on May 7th in Sotheby's in London, after a preview at Lismore, and two other venues on the island of Ireland, one in Belfast and one in Dublin.
What intrigues me is that so many of these works of Irish Masters past and present are in private collections, and that they are turning up for auction, some for the second year in succession, as Noll by William Orpen was on display last year. Is it being re-sold, or did it remain unsold? I am not sure, and I only heard that it is doing the rounds again through a friend who was at last year's show. It has a hefty reserve of between €250,000 and €350,000, and you would want to have a good large wall to display it.
So I was equally thrilled to see the works of Paul Henry, with his Connemara landscapes, and Jack B. Yeats, and also intrigued to see Louis le Brocquy's very abstract impressions of Francis Bacon and Beckett, and thought they would be way dearer. On the other hand I was pretty underwhelmed by the naive modern work by Scott of kitchen pots and pans, and thought I would put €500,000 to much better use, and likewise with the Roderic O'Conor Breton seascape. The latter was beautifully lit and had very vibrant colour but I didn't realise his work was commanding such value. The work by Sean Scully who is a leading contemporary Irish artist was very abstract and I guess I don't know enough art to fully appreciate it.
I was able to take photos with a clear conscience as I had the flash turned off, and the light was good enough to get a pretty good picture of most, except those with glass in the frames. They inevitably reflected the light and this affected their clarity. You can see all the pictures in the online catalogue if you wish, as I only took the photos for my pleasure and yours, and didn't realise they were all easy to view online.
Roderic O'Conor's Breton Seascape "Rocks and Foam, St Guénolé" (£300-£500,000)
The William Scott (See label below)
A selection of Louis le Brocquy - a tapestry and the Francis Bacon study
The entrance to the gallery at Lismore Castle Arts