Saturday, April 17, 2010

Of Food Festivals, Lotto and Art Millionaires - Sotheby's Irish Sale Preview 2010

Sotheby's Irish Sale Preview for 2010 is running at Lismore Castle Arts this weekend - at least 65 of the works for sale are on display again, despite rumours that it might fall victim to the recession after last year's preview, which was heralded as possibly the last. Thankfully this is not the case and I am delighted the sales are having the inaugural leg of the Irish tour in Lismore. It's a fantastic venue for showcasing any artworks, and I did a post on last year's preview also which you can check out here if you didn't see it first time round.

Jany and Sofia and me went to the exhibition yesterday and had a lovely cultural experience - it was Jany's first visit to the Castle Arts gallery and we had a nice wander around looking at the diverse collection of artworks from the early 1800s to the present day.

There's a great online catalogue for anyone interested in viewing all the works on sale; 65 of the over 100 items were shipped over for the preview exhibitions in Ireland - only in Lismore and Dublin and Belfast will the public get to view the wonderful works close up before the May 6th sale in Sotheby's London.

The signature piece this year is The Gold Turban by Sir John Lavery with a price tag up to €660,000/£600,000, for those with deep pockets. It's a portrait of his second wife, Lady Lavery, who is famous in Ireland for having been the face of Cathleen Ní Houlihan on the Irish currency notes until 1975, when the "new money" came in - same value as the "old money" but smaller more modern-looking notes.

There were some pieces by sculptor Edward Delaney (d. 2009) whose well-known bronzes adorn College Green and Stephen's Green in Dublin.

As ever with these exhibitions - there's an element of the Emperor's New Clothes where I am probably showing my ignorance of art as a real aficionado by just not "getting" a lot of the very contemporary art - cubism and very abstract art just doesn't do a lot for me, which is possibly my loss and purists among you will be throwing your hands up in despair of such philistinism.

That the Seán Scully stripey abstract painting "Eriskay" commands from £200,000 to £300,000 (€221,000-€331,000) kind of wrecks my head as I can't see how such a value is put on a piece of work. Yes, it is nice to look at - strong colour stripes with an inlaid smaller block - but as it is similar in style to all his work and is instantly recognisable I don't see what distinguishes it from other signature pieces.

When I look online at his body of work and his reputation it is apparent that he is very renowned - coincidentally I saw a programme on him last week on Irish TV - and I read a recent Sunday Times supplement feature on him - his is a rags-to-riches life of the order that would make Frank McCourt's miserable Limerick childhood seem privileged.

There were many others - known and less known, and many totally new to me - which I liked and which were under the €100,000 level and some were under €10,000, which probably put them in the bargain bin. I liked the Seán Keating paintings - they were warm and traditional and appealed to my basic art appreciation instincts! So too were the Paul Henry "Peat Stacks" which I love, and the super-realistic petrol pumps by John Doherty. Like I said last year when I saw one of his works here, they remind me of Edward Hopper's gas pumps painting - which I came across first in Alain de Botton's Art of Travel, a philosophical treatise on travel in its many forms with links to art. The Louis le Brocquy "Spanish Shawl" was another £500,000 painting, and was unlike the more ethereal "Presence".
I hope you enjoy browsing the e-catalogue, and anyone in Dublin on 21-22 April and Belfast's Waterfront on 23-24 April may get a chance to view the Collection before Auction Day in London on May 6th. There may even be some buyers among you at the Auction in London on May 6th - especially any lotto winners out there.
The National Lotto Jackpot was won in Co. Waterford this week - the winner chose to remain anonymous - but it wasn't me, I assure you. €16 million plus was won, and it would certainly be a life-changer.
I was in Eason's in Dungarvan Shopping Centre, where the winning ticket was sold, and the manager Pat White was keeping shtum about the identity in radio and TV interviews - he was a man with a secret and he wasn't about to disclose anything. That all adds to the speculation which is growing by the day - mostly good-humoured jibes promise to be aimed at anyone with a new car or unexplained absences from work over the coming weeks.

It was a nice symbiosis - having a lotto millionaire in Waterford, right in the vicinity of the means of disposing of a fairly large whack of it in one fell swoop by investing in some serious art! For the rest of us, we can dream of ownership of a favourite piece, while enjoying the pleasure of visiting a lovely art gallery and gazing in wonder at at the paintings and scultptures, even if they don't all have universal appeal.

It was a beautiful sunny day, and we wandered around the Castle Gardens (which you already
know about if you read my posts on Devonshire Day in March 2009 and 2010). Jany was chuffed to meet Laura, Lady Burlington (the wife of Lord William Burlington who runs the gallery and spends a lot of time in Lismore Castle - he's the son of the current Duke of Devonshire) and their little girl in the garden, where they had a nice chat about babies and toddlers. We have been invited to the launch next Friday of the Summer Exhibition in the Gallery - Gerald Byrne is the artist, and that will be quite avant-garde.

The Waterford Festival of Food was on this weekend and Lismore had the Farmers' Market going all day Saturday in the Castle Avenue, with delicious food stalls and demonstrations from various chefs. The weekend in Dungarvan had a lot more foodie events and celebrity chefs like Neven Maguire and Paul O'Flynn of the local Tannery - but I was happy to stay in Lismore and soak up the atmosphere - without any noticeable Icelandic volcanic ash deposits - in glorious sunshine where you could for a while think you were transported for a day in Provence.

The photos show some of the works of art and an overview of the Gallery:
  • Sir John Lavery's The Gold Turban, the money with Lady Lavery,
  • Sean Scully's Eriskay,
  • Paul Henry's Peat Stacks,
  • Sean Keating's Self Portrait,
  • John Doherty's The Odd Couple - open for petrol in Castletownbere,
  • Louis le Brocquy's Spanish Shawl,
Me and Sofia at the Farmers' Market and Jany and Sofia in Lismore Castle gardens


menopausalmusing said...

Thanks for your visit to my blog and interest in Ernest's shennanigans!

Re this post of yours: love the painting of the golden turban, but it was the one of the petrol pump that seemed almost too realistic to be real (if you know what I mean!). Quite some talent.

Lilly Higgins said...

Wow, you pack so much into each post! Its great for Dungarvan to have a lotto win, and a brilliant idea to invest in art! I love the Spanish Shawl. And I was only giving out the other day about Sean Scullys repetitive stripes! His paintings are so formulaic. I saw his article in The Culture. It looks like it was a beautiful weekend in Waterford!

Rudee said...

I have to go buy a lottery ticket today. The jackpot is 144 million. That's one transfusion I could live with.

I enjoyed all of the paintings very much, but your description of the market makes me wish summer would hurry up and get here, or that spring would stay a bit. We've been in a deep freeze again.

Ann said...

I am sorry to hear your weren't the Lotto winner!

I find abstract art difficult to relate to also. Though I do enjoy the form at times. The offerings for auction look wonderful. Sounds like an enjoyable afternoon and the sun was shining what more can a person want. Sauntering about taking in wonderful art and strolling gardens in the sunshine. Long may it last.

Stephanie V said...

It's good to just spend time wandering and soaking up beauty. I do like the Peat Stacks and wonder what it would be like to see it 'live'. That painting of the petrol pumps is a great testament to the artist's talent.
And, food, too! Such a lovely setting for it all.

Jeanne Henriques said...

Fantastic post...I am coming back to spend more time here. So much I want to explore. The two portraits of the women are stunning:)


Catherine said...

Thanks for the comments - I really enjoyed reading them and getting your feedback on the art - it's so nice to share the ideas around this kind of exhibition.
MENOPAUSAL MUSINGS - Yes I found Ernest fascinating - or rather your take on him, quirky and different! I hope he gets a good home next time round. As for the Petrol pumps - they are very realistic - photo realism it's called on the blurb in the catalogue online I think. I liked it as it reminded me of so many ancient petrol pumps still around these parts - and of Hopper's paintings tho' they are more arty than photolike.
All the best and keep visiting!

Catherine said...

Lilly - Glad I'm not alone about Sean Scully - I agree about the formulaic nature of his work and yet he is so deified! Nice but no Mondrian is my designer son's opinion. Yes it's nice to have a local lotto winner but they have kept below the parapet and leaving everyone speculating about who it might be! And I do love that Spanish Shawl. I sometimes think I pack too much into my posts, they are a bit all over the shop. Well keep on visiting and I must try to be more diligent on my reciprocal visits!

Catherine said...

RUDEE - did you win any or all of the 144 million? Hope so, would brighten the dull weather you're having. Hope it's picked up by now and you have spring. We have a lovely April thus far, so no complaints only we wonder is this our summer as it was last year! Yes the Farmers' Market is lovely and we have it now till end October, then Christmas is a special indoor market for one day. Do you have good farmers' Markets down your way?

Catherine said...

ANN - yes it was a lovely afternoon and this evening I was there again but in a very different exhibition - the summer one is here till end Sept. and opened tonight. It's mainly video installations and extremely minimalist and went fairly right over my head - or am I just a philistine? Probably but then I wasn't alone! The drinks in the gardens and the general ambiance was great though, made me feel less inadequate for my lack of "getting" the installation! Roll on Immrama launch next wed. Watch this space!
All the best, Catherine

Catherine said...

STEPHANIE V - Yes the Peat Stacks are lovely - quite small in reality, the light in Henry's works is always lovely and his skies are great. there was one last year again. I hope some of these works stay in Ireland - the state is too broke now to buy them up and it's a shame if they end up in private ownership to the loss of the country. Oh well there may be some philanthropic benefactors out there who'll bequeath them to the National Gallery or somewhere. The petrol pumps are so skilful, I agree.

Catherine said...

JEANNE - glad you liked the post and very welcome back anytime! I hope you get the comments notice or you might miss the reply. I will be watching with interest after May 6th to see how the sale goes in London. Sales at last years were poor and there was talk that the preview exhibition wouldn't happen this year so luckily it did. I hope the Lavery and the Spanish Shawl end up in Irish state hands so we can all enjoy them in the National Gallery or the Crawford or some Irish public space.