The Permanent Collections

Permanent Collection Feb- May 2021

Cows are mostly silent: Selection from the Permanent Collection curated by Adam Stoneman

EXTENDED to 27th June 2021
Limerick City Gallery of Art

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions LCGA is currently closed to the public.   


Cows are mostly silent:

Selection from the Permanent Collection curated by Adam Stoneman

Odile Blanc, a farmer from a French Alpine village in John Berger’s story, Once in Europa, recounts to her brother a riddle: ‘four point to the sky, four walk in the dew and four have food in them; all twelve make one - what is it?’

The answer, she tells her brother, who sighs loudly to show he has heard this too many times before, is a cow. ‘It has two horns, two ears pointing up, four legs for walking on, and four teats with milk in them.’

Riddles play with conceptual boundaries, and force us to acknowledge that language is not as stable as it seems. Modern art is not a riddle to be solved, but it does play with conceptual boundaries and it can force us to see the world in new and unexpected ways.

This selection of works from LCGA’s permanent collection counterpose a range of abstract, oblique and playful perspectives next to Mary Burke’s series ‘At Home on the Farm’.

Dark bounding contours appear as a ‘slow friesian train’ moving towards the edge of abstraction in John Shinnors’ Cows Come Home, while Michael Warren opens up a range of rich, interpretative possibilities with elegant minimalism in his work.

Revealing two corners, Helena Gorey subtly distinguishes ‘lawn’ from ‘field’ in her witty monochrome. It is what lies beneath the surface that preoccupies Nano Reid in her modernist mosaic, Ancient Land, capturing rich soil and red earth through thick, expressive marks. Piet Moog, meanwhile, uses the primitive language of cave painting to remind us of our ancient, spiritual relationship to ‘beasts of burden’.

Rendered in planes of colour, shape and form, these abstract and semi-abstract works defamiliarise and destabilise their subjects, preventing us from feeling ‘at home on the farm’. In doing so, they can help us to see the farm, and our relationship to it, anew.

 Adam Stoneman

February 2021


The title is taken from the poem ‘Cows’ by Martina Evans’, All Alcoholics are Charmers, Anvil Press 1998


Artists included:  Augustus N. Burke, Helen Commerford, Seamus Farrell, Tom Fitzgerald, Helena Gorey, Martin Healy, Ronnie Hughes, Mark Joyce, Cecil King, Arno Kramer, Nick Miller, Piet Moog, Deirdre O’Mahony, Nano Reid, Tom Ryan, John Shinnors, Donald Teskey, Maighread Tobin, Lorraine Wall,  Michael Warren.


In Conversation - Cows Are Mostly Silent at Limerick City Gallery of Art, with Adam Stoneman and Brendan Egan 


Virtual tour of exhibition:


Information sheet:  Cows are mostly silent: selection from the Permanent Collection (1,813 Kb)‌‌


 LCGA’s  online programme to accompany exhibition at


 Further information please email    


The Gallery Plan Your Visit Gallery Events Exhibitions The Collection Education Publications Media