Volunteer Student College Gallery Committee
I have always preferred to study modern art, and specialised in it during my final year of my Undergraduate degree - but working with the College Collection was my first intimate introduction to contemporary Irish artists.
While serving on the committee in 2008 I fell in love with the work of Micheal Farrell, and procured a piece by him for a friend who had entrusted her selection to me. I visited her room several times that year, and each time marvelled at this beautiful pencil drawing to which she awoke each morning. In 2009, this same friend was fortunate enough to have Barrie Cooke’s ‘The Irish Elk’ hanging in her dismal room in Goldsmith Hall. The Elk dominated the small space, but she loved it all the more for that, bringing life and dynamism into her bleak, blue quarter. She named the fantastic creature Barry, and swears to have bid him ‘Good morning!’ every day for the year! I was beyond envious of such a privilege. Yet this is the wonder of the scheme which George Dawson founded in Trinity College and which is today devotedly overseen by the College Curator, Catherine Giltrap - one can become intimately acquainted and attached to a work, seeing it as one’s own, unique to their College life; the Modern Art Collection in Trinity College is allowed to enhance and alter one’s College experience in a way that few other institutions would ever allow.Fifty years on, while working with Catherine Giltrap in preparation for this Anniversary, I have found that I share many of George’s artistic values. I believe in the power of art as a unifying force among a disparate body of people. Inspired by my experiences working with the College Curator over the last year, and by George’s initiatives in encouraging art as a means to bridge gaps between the young and old, the Science student and the Arts student, the Academic and his pupil, I encouraged the DU Visual Arts Society’s first ‘Exhibition of Artworks by the Staff and Students of Trinity College’, while acting as Chairperson of the Society in 2009/2010. The show brought together a vast array of members of the College community, offering them a fresh forum for the discussion of art within Trinity’s walls - something George was renowned for.
When the prospect of the twelve week ‘Art in Action’ internship presented itself, I was genuinely excited about getting to work with the collection, witnessing on-going conservation and developing a more thorough understanding of the collection’s history.
As an undergraduate, the internship afforded the prospect of developing practical transferable skills and allowed for a tangible comprehension of curatorship in practice. Working as a research assistant in preparation for the exhibition projects in both the Douglas Hyde Gallery and in the Royal Hibernian Academy has allowed for a glimpse, and a contextualisation, of a succinct period, where foresight and valour in the arts abounded in college and opened the eyes of so many.
It seems to me that the attribute of Professor Dawson’s character that persists through the various ‘recollections’, was his staunch belief and encouragement of students’ instinct in aesthetic - an attribute that thankfully still prevails in teaching the History of Art in college. It has been a privilege to contribute, if only in a small way, to these celebrations.
Alumni, Former Staff, and friends of the College - Do you have campus art stories?
We are compiling an archive of stories of the people who have shaped the collection or simply just enjoyed it. Submit your stories, comments, memories of art-related events or activities. If you took part in the College Gallery picture hire scheme,, the Exhibitions Committee or the Berkeley Library Exhibition Hall, the early days of The Douglas Hyde Gallery, please share with us how your involvement may have impacted on you in later life - friendships you may have made through becoming involved with art, artists you may have met or become!
If you submit a piece, please be aware that it might be used in full or extract form on the website. If there is a section of your submission that you would like to remain unpublished, and are submitting as an archival note only, please make this clear with your submission.
How to submit your story:
- Send us an email or post to our address
- Please include photographs as an email attachment no larger than 5mb in total
- Include the subject of your degree and the year you graduated
- If you are currently or formerly TCD staff, please submit your title and discipline
- Please include your current title or position and institution if you are not part of TCD anymore