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".
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.
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 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 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,