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Tue Nov 19th, 2013

Illustration is a brilliant and unique artform, and for many people, book illustration is their first taste of the wider world of visual art. The reputation of our children’s writers and illustrators has grown enormously in the recent past, with Irish practitioners enjoying both critical and commercial success in Ireland and abroad.
As a writer and picture-book maker, I believe that illustration is an incredibly important part of our lives. This year, I have taken this opportunity as Laureate na nÓg to showcase our Irish illustrators to the world. I chose 21 illustrators who are all living and working in Ireland and put together Pictiúr, the largest touring exhibition of Irish illustration ever.
As part of the Culture Connects programme for Ireland’s Presidency of the European Council we brought Pictiúr to Europe. Our first stop was to Vienna for the Festival for Young Readers where over 13,000 young people saw the artwork in one week at the Palais Auersperg.
We toured to the Bologna Book Fair, the world’s largest children’s book fair and to the European Parliament in Brussels, where we were hosted by Jim Higgins M.E.P. I was very proud to raise the profile and celebrate Irish illustration to an audience of European Parliamentarians. I also took the opportunity to share my conviction that all children, regardless of their circumstances, have the right to culture; the right to access books, illustration and arts.

Pictiúr at the European Parliament, Brussels
Pictiúr at the European Parliament, Brussels

Our final venue on the European tour was the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe where families discovered the different stories and artwork created by our illustrators.
On its return to Ireland the exhibition opened in September at Draíocht, Blanchardstown, and travelled to the Galway Arts Centre for the Baboró International Festival for Children and Young People. I am very grateful to the Arts Council’s Touring and Dissemination Scheme for making this possible.
Monster Doodling at Galway Arts Centre for Pictiúr at Baboró
Monster Doodling at Galway Arts Centre for Pictiúr at Baboró

I am incredibly excited to be bringing this illustration exhibition to IMMA. I am proud to have our Irish illustrators hanging in one of Ireland’s major galleries. I’ve seen the impact on Europe and I’m looking forward to IMMA audiences discovering just how brilliant our contemporary Irish illustrators are.
Pictiúr in the vaults at IMMA
Pictiúr in the vaults at IMMA

Niamh Sharkey, Laureate na nÓg


Up Next

Women, feminism and art

Tue Nov 12th, 2013
‘Go on, go on, go on …’ Mrs Doyle, the long-suffering housekeeper for Fathers Crilly, Maguire and Jack on Craggy Island, makes and offers endless cups of tea and refuses to take ‘no’ for an answer. Mrs Doyle both embraces and subverts her role of housekeeper, using her domestic artillery – the all-important making of the tea – to test out and assert her role in a conservative, male household. In doing so, she tacitly affirms the role of tea (or coffee?) making and drinking in the construction of neutral spaces of communication and exchange. Is Mrs Doyle a covert feminist? Is she asserting rather than denying the potential of the domestic space and its activities (tea making and drinking) as the place of communication and discussion, namely knowledge production? Eileen Gray notoriously ‘humanised’ the austere forms of modernist architecture, making the spaces and the objects in them not only aesthetically pleasing but useful and practical and flexible – a celebration rather than a denial of domestic space. [caption id="attachment_136" align="aligncenter" width="193"] Eileen Gray, Dressing Screen, 1926 - 1929[/caption] The relationship of women to domestic space is something Dr. Jane Humphries will be discussing in her forthcoming lecture ‘Cultures of Domesticity in ...