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McClelland Collection on show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art

An exhibition of approximately 60 works from an important collection of over 400 artworks generously given on long-term loan to the Irish Museum of Modern Art by George and Maura McClelland opens to the public at the Museum on Wednesday 20 September. Selected Works from the McClelland Collection illustrates a lifetime of collecting by the McClellands, who are former gallery owners and promoters of such leading Irish artists as Colin Middleton, Tony O’Malley and Dan O’Neill.

The exhibition, like the collection, is particularly strong in mid 20th-century Irish painters and sculptors – more especially Northern Irish artists – and includes works by William Conor, Gerard Dillon, William Scott, John Luke, Colin Middleton and other leading artists such as Jack B. Yeats, Sean Keating, Gerda Fromel and Elizabeth Rivers. Also on show are an early tapestry by Louis le Brocquy and bronze sculptures by F E McWilliam.

Commenting on the significance of the collection to the Museum, Catherine Marshall, Head of IMMA’s Collection, said : “The McClelland Collection offers a thorough introduction to Irish art for the first three quarters of the 20th century, an introduction which is full of delights for the casual visitor. As a source for the history of art in this country, its importance cannot be overstated, because the period it charts was very inadequately collected by Irish public bodies. We all have good reason to be grateful to the McClellands for giving us the opportunity to put that history on show and to offer a context for the current blossoming of visual art in Ireland.”

George McClelland is a native of Omagh, Co Tyrone, and bought his first drawing, which he still owns, at the age of 12. He and his wife Maura (from Anascaul, Co Kerry) settled in Belfast where in 1965 they opened an antique and art gallery in May Street. In 1972 they re-organized their gallery and set up McClelland Galleries International on the Lisburn Road. In 1969 they established the McClelland Fine Art Award for final year Diploma students at the Ulster College of Art and Design which was later continued by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The McClelland Galleries showed a wide variety of historic and contemporary art, including Islamic and African art, Russian icons and the first exhibition in Ireland of Eskimo sculpture, as well as contemporary Irish art. Contemporary artists from Northern Ireland were especially encouraged and George McClelland became the agent and friend of such artists as Dan O’Neill, Gerard Dillon, F E McWilliam, Colin Middleton and many others.

The McClellands moved to Dublin in 1975 following the loss of their Lisburn Road gallery during the continued political unrest. At this time George McClelland took the opportunity to fulfil a dream from his youth. He attended the National College of Art and subsequently exhibited his own work in several of the Irish Living Art Exhibitions. His Healing Screen (1978 I.E.L.A.) was purchased by the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland and is now in the Collection of the Ulster Museum.

George and Maura McClelland retired to the Isle of Man in 1986, but remain regular visitors to Ireland.

Selected Works from the McClelland Collection continues until January 2001.

Admission is free.

An exhibition of Surrealist paintings and drawings by Colin Middleton, from the same collection, will be shown at IMMA from January to March 2001.

Opening hours: Tue – Sat 10.00am – 5.30pm
Sun & Bank Holidays 12 noon – 5.30pm
Closed Mondays
23 – 26 December

For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Philomena Byrne or Onagh Carolan at Tel : +353 1 612 9900,
Fax : +353 1 612 9999

4th September 2000