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IMMA goes to Newfoundland

An exhibition from the Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art which will bring the work of 22 leading Irish artists to St John’s, Newfoundland, opens on Thursday 30 June 2005. The exhibition will be officially opened by John O’Donoghue, TD, Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism. Comharsana Beal Dorais (Next Door Neighbours) will include works by such distinguished artists as Willie Doherty, Brian Maguire, Clare Langan, Nigel Rolfe, Kathy Prendergast, Sean Scully and Hughie O’Donoghue, who will be joined by younger artists such as Isobel Nolan, Paul Nugent and Helena Gorey.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Ireland Newfoundland Partnership and Culture Ireland. It is being shown to mark the opening of The Rooms, The Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador. It will be visited by the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, TD, when he travels to Newfoundland in September.

The exhibition brings together artworks that examine traditional and historical issues in Irish culture, as well as very recent developments such as the changes that arise as a result of the development of a multicultural society alongside economic and social changes in Ireland. An awareness of the strong historical links that exist between Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and similarities in traditional rural and maritime lifestyles in both locations can also be seen. Global change has impacted on both cultures and the works on show attempt to address some of those changes in relation to Ireland.

Images of the Irish landscape, in the work of Stephen McKenna, Maria Simonds-Gooding and Alanna O’Kelly, draw attention to the history of the landscape and of man’s ceaseless struggle to make a livelihood from the natural environment, while Clare Langan’s film trilogy looks at more futuristic scenarios that have been largely filmed in Ireland but have universal reference.

The Northern Troubles form the background of Willie Doherty’s work. In Sometimes I imagine it’s My turn he puts the viewer into an ambiguous relationship with a dead body lying on the ground in a quiet woodland place. The identity of the viewer is as open to question as that of the body and we are forced to confront the circumstances of a violent death. Brian Maguire’s Memorial also deals with politically motivated deaths but the dead in this work are unnamed prisoners who died following a prison riot. Maguire recalls the human need for commemoration often denied to those who are the victims of political oppression.

The satirical side of the Irish character is embodied in the work of John Kindness and Caroline McCarthy. Both artists take as their reference point the art of the past. McCarthy’s The Luncheon refers to traditional Dutch still-life painting to make witty comments about consumerism using the most disposable consumer item, toilet-paper, to make a sculpted display of food while Kindness uses recycled parts from a New York taxi-cab in his work Scraping the surface to make a pointed reference to the superficiality of contemporary urban lifestyles. 

Different ways of representing the body are powerfully displayed in the sculpture of Janet Mullarney and the Body Map drawings of Kathy Prendergast, while a more abstract approach to painting is seen in Sean Scully’s As Was

Commenting on the exhibition Catherine Marshall, Senior Curator: Head of Collections said: “The links between Ireland and Newfoundland are such that Irish music, and even the Irish language have had an important place in the culture of Newfoundland for several centuries. Irish visual art has not been shared with our neighbours across the Atlantic to the same extent and it is the aim of this exhibition to show that it has the same depth and range of expression as poetry and music. It is a great honour for IMMA to be invited to mark the opening of The Rooms, The Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador with this exhibition and a great opportunity to showcase the diversity and quality of recent Irish art”. 

Comharsana Beal Dorais (Next Door Neighbours) continues at The Rooms, The Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador until 12 October 2005.  

For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel:  +353 1 612 9900: Email: [email protected].

28 June 2005

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.