I arrived at the Hunt Museum to screams, caterwauling and sound of many hooves. No, the place wasn’t haunted. Though, given Limerick’s grisly history, I wouldn’t have been surprised.
Exchanging glances with a woman in the ticket queue, she quickly confirmed my worst suspicions. Casting her eyes swiftly heavenward, and leaning my way and she confided
“It’s a school tour. The kids sure are noisy. And guess what? They’re teachers are even worse”
I had visions of myself rounding up the little horrors in a giant lasso, throwing them in a bag and dumping them in the Shannon. But my luck was in. Seems they were heading off on their merry way, just at the sight of me.
I have that effect on people. It generally works to my advantage.
With that, the fine old Georgian building ceased vibrating and returned to its quietly contemplative self.
Originally Limerick’s Custom House, the Hunt Museum is set close to the city centre on the banks of the Shannon. With the Hunts bequest in archaeological, art and antiquarian objects, it holds a vast collection. But I was mainly here to see the art on view.
Downstairs, an entire room is devoted to the current exhibition, The Artist’s Eye. For this, artist Donald Teskey had to choose from Allied Irish Bank’s art collection. The bank had to donate their collection to the State and to exhibitions as reparation for all their financial sins and, as we the people were the sinned against, I think it’s important that we clap eyes on what we’re paying through the noses for.
The exhibition is a real who’s who of Irish art during our crazy Celtic Tiger years. Bankability rules over artistic merit. Not that there aren’t great pieces there. But the names Dorothy Cross, Seán Scully, John Shinnors,Janet Mullarney, Jackie Nickerson, Diane Copperwhite are among the best known of our contemporary Irish artists from the 1980s and 90s.
There is a perfect mix of paintings in this exhibition, but,as it turned out, the ones I favoured were from artists that I was not as familiar with.
Martin Gale’s “There Will Always be Sundays” was a particular delight, with it’s colourful rug, set amid patchwork Irish fields. And all the more so, because it was painted in 1980. Though it seems aeons away, there is something comforting in the fact that we still can claim respite on Sundays and in the self same fields.
Shane Blount “The Blue Giraffe”, which you can see here on his blog, deals with the difficulties of leaving childhood behind. Or so it seemed to me. Either way, the expression that he captures on that kid’s face is just wonderful.
Seán Scully’s “Wall of Light” on the other hand, left me cold. Yes, there’s a whole room devoted to him in the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art. And an excellent example of his work here.. Really, I fail to see how time and talent are shown in that painting. I’m told that Scully likes to ‘interrogate stripe’. Really? Well, I wish he would leave stripe alone.
But yes, when it comes to art, it’s all good, it seems, if it leaves us feeling a little contrary.
Not so, kids. I ambled a little further around the Hunt Museum then before taking my leave and trotting off towards King John’s Castle. Bastion of Limerick and guardian of her fortunes for centuries, I could barely contain my excitement at getting there.
I soon got over it.
The second I set foot in the place there were screams and caterwauling, and shouts of “Hey, Cormac, c’mon. Up here”
But, at least this time, I had my lasso…
Juneathon Update: Wednesday-Five Mile Run
Friday: 9.58 mile on the bike
Juneathon Total:78.82 miles
For more information on the Hunt Museum, check out these links:
History of the Hunt Museum
Hunt Museum cleared of Nazi Allegations