I can’t remember how long it is since I last visited Charlemont House, better known as The Hugh Lane Gallery, but our recent Dublin City Council visit as part of the Dublin’s Culture Connects project, reminded me that this is a real oasis of beauty and calm in our North Inner City.
Many thanks to Iseult Byrne, Project Director, Dublin’s Culture Connects, for organising a valuable and enjoyable visit. Thanks also to Barbara Dawson, Director of the Gallery and her team who were so generous with their time and shared their absolute passion and commitment for the ethos and distinctiveness of this intimate gallery.
Walking through the gallery, we had the opportunity to see Renoir’s well known ‘The Umbrellas’, beautiful landscapes by many renowned artists and then onward to see the chaotic and mesmerising studio of Francis Bacon. We also enjoyed the diverse range of images by Michael Kane, covering five decades of an evolving Dublin, before being absolutely absorbed in a unique and completely engaging exhibition by Sven Augustijnen, who has put together Time and Life magazine images and articles relating to the FN FAL semi-automatic rifle – a must see, but allow lots of time for this one! Our final stop off, was a visit ‘behind the scenes’ to the Conservationist, who showed us the work she is currently doing on restoring paintings in the Conservation Studio.
Further thought is being given to how to extend the reach of the gallery to city communities and neighbourhoods
Barbara and her team are constantly seeking opportunities to challenge and stimulate visitors, with exhibitions, workshops and talks given by current artists. Working with the ‘Dublin’s Culture Connects’ team, further thought is being given to how to extend the reach of the gallery to city communities and neighbourhoods and how to utilise a partnership approach with other cultural and statutory bodies to achieve this.
The completion of the Luas work in O’Connell Street will hopefully increase the footfall and open up opportunities for the gallery to link to a cultural trail with other galleries and cultural centres both north and south of the city.
Finally, there is no doubt the legacy of Hugh Lane is well and truly alive and in good hands and supported by Dublin City Council’s Arts Division and we should support it, enjoy it and savour it… followed by a cuppa in the coffee shop!
By Cllr. Anne Feeney, Member of the Arts, Culture and Recreation SPC of Dublin City Council2