Literary Gems among The Moderns
It covered modernity in Ireland from the 1900s to the 1970s through the visual arts mainly, but with photographers, film-makers, composers, architects, designers – and writers – all featured in a major interdisciplinary collection.
I was interested in the smattering of exhibits connected to Irish writers and showing the crossover of the literary and the visual arts. These were some of my highlights:
Samuel Beckett’s ‘Film’, written in 1962 and filmed in New York in 1963. It can be viewed here on YouTube.
John Millington Synge’s Photos from Aran, Connemara, Wicklow and Kerry. Synge bought his first camera from a fellow visitor to Aran in 1898 and it became a constant on his travels along with his bicycle.
Jack Yeats’ Book Illustrations. He and Synge spent a month together in 1905 on a tour of the Congested Districts in the west, Synge writing his series of articles for the Manchester Guardian and Yeats providing the illustrations.
Robert Flaherty’s film documentary Man of Aran (1934) The work was inspired by Synge and the wheel has come full circle with Martin McDonagh’s drama The Cripple of Inishmaan – currently on tour with Druid Theatre – set against the backdrop of Flaherty’s film.
Paul and Grace Henry Paintings of the West. The couple stayed in Achill for close to a decade and most of Paul’s autobiography An Irish Portrait (1951) centred on the island.
Elinor Wiltshire’s Photo of Patrick Kavanagh picking potatoes in Inishkeen in 1963.
Pity the exhibition is over. Another visit, I feel, would have revealed many more gems. And I loved this TV commercial for the exhibition:-