The most comprehensive study of Irish art and architecture ever undertaken – Art and Architecture of Ireland (Yale University Press and the Royal Irish Academy) – has been launched by the Taoiseach.
The five volume, 1600 year history, which took six years to complete, is the work of 10 editors and over 250 contributors. With key inputs from Trinity staff, it explores all aspects of Irish art and architecture – from high crosses to installation art, from Georgian houses to illuminated manuscripts, from watercolours and sculptures to photographs, oil paintings, video art and tapestries.
Dr Rachel Moss, Department of History of Art and Architecture, Trinity College Dublin is the editor and principal author of volume 1, which covers the period c.400-c.1600AD. “The task of condensing 1,200 years of Irish artistic creativity into 600 pages was daunting,” stated Dr Moss, “but it presented a unique opportunity to showcase the real stars of the period, like Trinity’s Book of Kells, together with the lesser known gems”. Written for the general reader, the volume’s 350 separate essays and almost 600 colour images introduce and contextualize key works. While many of these are now displayed in museums and libraries, readers are also familiarised with the numerous medieval buildings and sculpted stones that still dot the Irish landscape that provide an evocative window to our past.
Volume IV in the series is devoted to architecture. Dr Ellen Rowley, White Post- Doctoral Fellow at the Trinity Irish Art Research Centre (TRIARC), is a co-editor of this volume, as are Livia Hurley and John Montague, both graduates of the Department of History of Art and Architecture, while former lecturer in the Department, Catherine Marshal is co-editor of volume V, the Twentieth Century. Staff, emeritus staff, postgraduates and graduates of the Department of History of Art and Architecture and the Library at Trinity have also made significant contributions to this project.
Speaking at the launch on November 16th last, the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, TD said: “The Royal Irish Academy’s Art and Architecture of Ireland is a treasure trove that showcases our artistic heritage like never before and is a fitting celebration of our extraordinary, but often unrecognised, visual culture – in painting, in sculpture and in the ultimate social art, architecture. This project would not have come to fruition without the endeavours of many skilled, talented and knowledgeable people within the Academy and beyond it and I am delighted to pay tribute to their considerable work as well as those who have supported the project to its impressive conclusion.”
The RIA has gifted a full set of Art and Architecture of Ireland to every County Library, north and south, and plans to make a digital version available to secondary schools, free of charge, early in 2016.
The project was funded by the Naughton Foundation and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. It is published by Yale University Press for the Royal Irish Academy and the Paul Mellon Centre.
The editors of the five volumes are: Volume 1, Medieval c. 400-c.1600, Editor Rachel Moss; Volume 2, Painting 1600-1900, Editor Nicola Figgis; Volume 3, Sculpture 1600-2000, Editor Paula Murphy; Volume 4, Architecture 1600-2000, Editors: Rolf Loeber; Hugh Campbell; Livia Hurley; John Montague and Ellen Rowley; and Volume 5, Twentieth Century, Editors, Catherine Marshall and Peter Murray.
Art and Architecture of Ireland, €95 per volume, in bookstores and online