A new exhibition has opened in the Old Library, Trinity College Dublin. ‘Writing Art in Ireland, c.1890–1930’ explores the ways in which the visual arts were written about during a period that saw a surge in cultural activity take place against a backdrop of tumultuous constitutional change. From Margaret Stokes’s emphasis on the aesthetic value of medieval Irish artefacts in Early Christian art in Ireland (1887) through to Mainie Jellett’s defence of abstract painting in the magazine Motley in 1932, the exhibition also serves as a celebration of the wealth of material relating to the visual arts held in the Library.
The texts and images displayed highlight how commentators looked to the achievements of the past as well as to continental innovations in debating how best to forge a distinctly modern national artistic identity. Also outlined are the links between the visual arts and the emerging Irish state, as vigorous discussion took place around the role art should play in the economy, in educational institutions, and in the Church.
The exhibition was prepared by Dr Tom Walker, with assistance from Jack Quin, from the School of English, TCD, as part of the Irish Research Council New Horizons research project ‘W.B. Yeats and The Writing of Art’. It will be on view in the Long Room until January 2017.
A symposium related to the exhibition and wider research project will be taking place at the Trinity Long Room Hub on Saturday 8 October.