We’re back with another blog from the Cuala Press Print Project – this one will showcase the women of the Cuala Press. The Cuala Press began its life as the Dun Emer Press and was part of Dun Emer Industries, established by Evelyn Gleeson (1855-1944) and Susan and Elizabeth Yeats in Dundrum, Co. Dublin, in 1902. Their aim was to employ and train local Irish girls and young women in ‘the making of beautiful things’. Elizabeth (1868-1940) trained two people at a time on an Albion printing press and they gained knowledge of composition, typography, type setting, and ink rolling; they were also involved in the hand painting of the prints and the other material they printed. Susan Yeats (1866-1949) ran the embroidery section and taught embroidery herself. The trainees were also instructed in Irish by the writer Susan L. Mitchell (1866-1926) and in the dramatic arts by the Fay brothers, who were among the founders of the Abbey Theatre.Continue reading “Women of the Cuala Press”
A collection of one hundred and eleven hand-coloured Cuala Press Prints (TCD MS 11574) was donated to the Manuscripts and Archives Research Collection in Trinity College Dublin where they are currently being catalogued as part of a project to make them accessible to researchers. It is a visually stunning collection and represents an important part of Irish visual culture. It also includes work by many female artists from the early 20th century. The collection was a gift from a private individual who built the collection in the mid 20th century and the philanthropically-funded project to make them available includes the appointment of an archivist, a conservator, a digital photographer and a post-doctoral researcher in the history of art. The project will not only focus on the new collection of prints but will also look at the business archives of the Cuala Press itself (TCD MS 11535). Thus, we will ensure and enhance the usability, visibility and accessibility of these significant materials to support the teaching, learning and research needs of staff, students and the wider research community.Continue reading “Cuala Press Prints Project”
By Jack Quin
The Irish sculptor Oliver Sheppard’s Sleeping Nymph (1918) has been on display in the Long Room since September, as part of the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’. Drawn from Trinity College Dublin’s own art collections, Sheppard’s small marble relief is something of a sculpture within a sculpture. The main subject is a female nude lying sleeping. But carved in the right-hand corner is a barely discernible cherub or infant. Like the sculptor’s Roisin Dubh memorial to the poet James Clarence Mangan in Stephen’s Green, a smaller figure incorporated into the piece can be read as some form of ambiguous symbol or allegory relating to the primary subject.
Such suggestive works not only sometimes drew on literary sources but also provoked several notable literary responses. Sheppard’s early statuette Oisin and Niamh (1895) was inspired by W.B. Yeats’s The Wanderings of Oisin (1889), a fact that greatly pleased the poet. His later bronze statue The Death of Cuchulain – itself drawn from Lady Gregory’s portrayal of the hero in Cuchulainn of Muirthelmne (1902) – in turn became the subject of several poems by Yeats, following its erection in the General Post Office in 1935 to commemorate the Easter Rising. Less reverentially, Samuel Beckett’s novel Murphy (1938) describes how a character was moved to seize ‘the dying hero by the thighs’ and ‘dash his head against his buttocks, such as they are’.
Presented alongside Sleeping Nymph in the exhibition is a quixotic response to Sheppard’s work by Patrick Pearse, printed in the Gaelic League newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light) in 1906. The revolutionary, sacrificial message of Pearse’s appraisal seems clear. Of one statuette of a mother and child, he asserts: ‘his heart will not falter, he will fight the fight – win it, maybe, or failing gloriously, go serenely to his death. And the Woman of Destiny will wait and watch on.’ As such visual artworks enter into language, their meanings become interpreted and contested. Indeed during the lead up to last year’s centenary commemorations a 1916 Relatives Association urged Dublin City Council to rename the The Spire monument on O’Connell Street An Claidheamh Soluis. Like the symbolist sculpture of Oliver Sheppard, even the austerely abstract Spire sitting opposite the G.P.O. will have its significance written and rewritten.
Jack Quin is a Research Assistant in the School of English, working on the Irish Research Council-funded project ‘W.B. Yeats and the Writing of Art’.
By Jack Quin and Tom Walker
This poster for Thomas Bodkin’s book Hugh Lane and his pictures (1932) is included in the exhibition ‘Writing Art in Ireland, 1890–1930’, currently on display in the Long Room. The advert reproduces William Orpen’s Homage to Manet (1909), a group portrait of the novelist George Moore reading from his pamphlet Reminiscences of the Impressionist Painters (1906) to an audience in London made up of the collector Hugh Lane, the painters Philip Wilson Steer, Walter Sickert and Henry Tonks, and D.S. MacColl, the Keeper of the Tate Gallery. Above them hangs Édouard Manet’s painting of another impressionist painter Eva Gonzales. Continue reading “‘a pin in the very quickest part of my body’”