LCGA Exhibitions


"Pomeranians and other conversation pieces" at The Hunt Museum

17 February - 13 May 2011
The Hunt Museum, Rutland Street, Limerick

All of the work on the walls of the Prologue Room in the Hunt Museum are from the Permanent Collection of Limerick City Gallery of Art. 

This selection by Marian Lovett was made bearing in mind  the location and some pieces with an animal theme already on display in the Captain’s room.  A deliberately eclectic mix is presented to give some idea of the variety and scope that characterises the LCGA collection.  The range spans a broad time period from the late eighteenth to the early twenty first century and comprises in total nineeteen pieces by eighteen artists: Pauline Bewick, George Chinnery, Sean Dixon, Pauline Flynn, Karen Giuisti,  Alfred Grey, Hugh Douglas Hamilton, Michael Healy, Sean Keating, Arno Kramer, Cecil King, Piet Moog, Edward A.McGuire, Walter Osborne, Mervyn Peake, Sarah Purser, Anne Ryan and Paki Smith.

As LCGA is the home of the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing, drawing figures strongly in the mix.   Some gems in this medium have been included such as Sean Keating’s beautifully expressive charcoal  portrait of Marie, Mervyn Peake’s line drawing entitled aptly The Arrogant Horse and George Chinnery’s exquisite Study of Goats.

The starting point for the selection and its interpretation is Walter Osborne’s Pomeranians, a gorgeous oil painting of two Pomeranian dogs by the nineteenth century Irish impressionist.  This is one of several artworks with an animal theme owned by LCGA  that have not been exhibited together before.  It is also one of a couple of paintings which have not been on exhibit for some time as they have undergone restoration. Alfred Grey’s Cows Lying Down is another such painting, here all seems calm and tranquil until one notices the rain clouds rolling in.

It seems certain that Osborne’s painting should provoke some conjecture and discussion: just how did Osborne ‘get’ the hair and eyes of these glorious canines? What was the connection between Osborne, who died at forty three and the lovely Ms Webb who never married and who donated this painting to LCGA? Perhaps those facts are entirely unrelated but a really good work of art will always prompt close observation and imaginative conjecture.  This is also the point of this selection and its title.  The addendum 'and other conversation pieces' was given partly harking back to a genre of informal portrait painting that was popular in the eighteenth century and which often included children and animals,  but also with the intention that the art from LCGA might provide scope for some interesting thoughts and exchanges.  The viewer is encouraged to negotiate his or her way in and around the content, style and character of individual pieces and then to associate and compare, thinking about how one work connects to another.  There is room here for the audience to ‘step in’,  to become creatively engaged with the art and how it has been presented.

It is important to take note of the display cabinet that already resides in the Captain's room.  This includes such treasures as St. Luke sitting astride a bull, painted on a seventeenth century majolica panel and two nineteenth century pearlware plates depicting a zebra and stag respectively, surrounded by a decorative motif of shamrocks and harps.  Remarkably, tucked away in one of the drawers beneath the display cabinet, is a small but  intensely rendered drawing entitled Tête de Cheval by Pablo Picasso.  This becomes the connector to several of pieces from the LCGA collection such as  Piet Moog’s Shaman and Reindeer, a drawing that is both curious and memorable and also the not-quite-fully-formed, animal about to emerge from  the womb in Arno Kramer’s Untitled drawing, a piece that seems to echo the ancient outlines of the Lascaux cave drawings.

In placing a number of pieces over and above each other there is even more potential for relational and  associative thinking.  The precedent for presenting the work in this way is how art from the Permanent Collection has traditionally been shown in the Carnegie Building in Pery Square. There is much to be said for  viewing and understanding an artwork individully and on its own terms.  Here however,  the objective has been to enhance the experience of looking by ‘connecting  out’ to another range of possibilities for how things may be seen and understood.

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