By Stacey Wrenn
The claim of being the largest contemporary art gallery in the Mid-Western Region may not automatically sound as one of great achievement, but the LCGA proudly and deservedly holds it true with its diverse exhibition programmes that continue to highlight both the rising artists abroad and local talent. Established in 1937, the gallery hosts on average 8 exhibitions a year.
The Permanent Collection is exhibited on a rotation basis throughout the year in its dedicated exhibition gallery in the Carnegie Building. Artists within the Permanent Collection are Paul Henry, Jack B. Yeats, Sean Keating, Charles Lamb, Letita Hamilton, Grace Henry, Sarah Purser, Walter Verling, Donald Teskey, John Shinnors, and many more.
The variation in the content of the permanent collection is testament to the innovative approach to art and design in Ireland over the last 100 years. A Sean Keating sketch of the Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station holds little comparison to a surreal religious painting by Mainie Jellett.
When you are done browsing what is on display the setting of the gallery is equally deserving of your attention. It is set in the People’s Park, a beautifully landscaped Victorian park in the heart of the historic city of Limerick. This, coupled with the architectural richness of the city’s urban planning — namely the Georgian townhouses of Pery Square and the gallery’s Regency building — only add to the experience.
Featured Exhibition: Known Unknowns (2017/18)
“As we know, there are known known’s; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Umsfeld, Secretary of Defence with George Bush’s Cabinet in 2002.
This curation produced an alternative way for LCGA to present its collection while acknowledging the 80th anniversary of the nucleus of the gallery following an exhibition of ‘pictures’ in the Savoy Cinema in Limerick. They represent the journey that the gallery has undertaken thus far, leaving the open-ended question of what the gallery will look like in times to come?
Along with showcasing its impressive permanent collection and encouraging new artists to display in public settings, LCGA has become a major part of the community in Limerick City. You will often see people strolling in after a trip into town — including the stereotypically atypical visitors for an exhibition of toy skeletons in white lab-coats hanging from the ceiling.
They have achieved this, first and foremost, through respecting and including the community in their work. LCGA hosts the annual EVA International, Ireland’s biennial exhibition of contemporary art, where guest curators are invited over the course of 12 weeks to create exhibitions that actively engage the people of Limerick, setting an example for the rest of the country for the future of the arts.