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The Waterford Gallery of Art receives generous donations in support of an exciting year of exhibitions for 2024

The Waterford Gallery of Art on O’Connell Street is the home of one of the oldest and best civic collections of art in Ireland. The Waterford Art Collection, founded in 1939, includes artworks by some of Ireland’s most renowned artists including Paul Henry, Jack B Yeats, Mainie Jellett, Sir Frederic William Burton and Evie Hone. Established and maintained through the incredible generosity of individual donors and charitable organisations, the gallery is delighted to receive several new donations from two of the leading figures of the Irish art world.

David Britton, the former director at Adam’s Auctioneers and owner of the Frederick Gallery with curator and art historian, Karen Reihill, have personally gifted to Waterford a selection of works which will feature in exhibitions from early next year. One of the incredibly significant, and rare donations, is a folio entitled ‘Short Course Waterford 1949’. This beautifully made handbound book includes original linocuts by various well-respected artists from the time including Christopher Campbell, R.J. Hobbs, Patrick Heney (Padraig Ó hÉanaigh), James Manning, John Pearce and more. It is a delight and tribute to see the works return back to their home of origin.

Alongside this donation is a limited edition ‘artists working proof’ illustration by Elizabeth Rivers which was created as the main image for the book, ‘The Man Who Invented Sin’ (1948), by Sean O’Faolain. This commissioned artwork was completed for The Devin Adair Company in June 1948 and Rivers remained friendly with Sean and Eileen O’Faolain for the remainder of their life. Rivers, who was born in England but spent the majority of her life in Ireland and on the Aran Islands was also close friends with artist Hilda Roberts, one the founding figures of the Waterford Art Collection and Gallery. Roberts taught at Newtown School from the late 1920s alongside husband and headmaster, Arnold Marsh. The Waterford Gallery of Art currently features a free exhibition, ‘Arnold & Hilda’ exploring their life and work.

Britton and Reihill have also presented to the Collection a large and curious etching entitled ‘Toad and Spider, early morning June’ (1979) by Patrick Hickey. The artwork was identified as an item amiss from the gallery’s sizable collection of prints and etchings obtained from Dublin’s ‘Graphic Studio’ in the late 1970’s.

The folio, illustration by Rivers, and etching by Hickey will feature in the gallery’s ‘Prints and Drawings’ exhibition opening February 14th 2024. This opening is parallel to an accompanying exhibition launching on the same day in the gallery which celebrates the one-hundred-year anniversary of the founding of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland. ‘100 Years of the FNCI’ will showcase the 10 substantial donations the FNCI have gifted to the Collection since their foundation in 1924 as well as an early painting by Sarah Purser, the initiator of the FNCI and resident of Dungarvan for 25 years.

Lastly, in acknowledgement of the research and development of an Olympic themed exhibition due to open in the gallery next summer, the collection has kindly been gifted a pastel work entitled, ‘Man of Sweden’ created by Christopher Campbell. This personal and masterly executed work is a portrait of Chistopher’s brother Laurence, who was also a recognised artist whose paintings feature in the Waterford Art Collection.

Art, including architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture, were included as part of the Olympic Games between 1912 and 1948. The Waterford art Collection includes works by many artists (such as Christopher Campbell) that took part in the Olympics during these dates including artworks by silver medal winner Jack B Yeats, and bronze medal winner Letitia Marion Hamilton.

The Waterford Arts Office and Waterford City and County Council are incredibly thankful for the generosity and consideration shown by David Britton and Karen Reihill in supporting the work and programming of the gallery in the coming year and assisting the future development of Waterford’s prized art collection.

The Waterford Gallery of Art is open to the public Wednesday to Saturday, from 10am to 5pm and admission is free for all.

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For further information:

Luke Currall
Visual Arts Co-Ordinator
The Waterford Gallery of Art
lcurrall@waterfordcouncil.ie

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