Post-New Year’s Culture Vulturing: Looking Ahead In 2014


I know that we can find it a little hard to find inspiration to cope with January’s chills, but I’m trying for a brighter glow by looking ahead to cultural goings-on in early 2014. To begin with, I picked up a couple of event brochures from the National Gallery of Ireland and another one from the Chester Beatty Library plopped though my letterbox recently.

To take the latter venue first, the major exhibition of French fashion illustrations, Costumes Parisiens: Fashion Plates from 1912-1914 (mentioned previously) will continue to run until 30 March 2014. In conjunction with this exhibition, as part of the free talks programme there will be three fashion themed Thursday lunchtime (1.10pm) talks. The first one is by Irish costume designer Joan Bergin and is entitled ‘The Thrills and Spills of Costume Design for Film’ on 30 January. Deirdre McQuillan of the Irish Times follows this up on 6 February will a talk about the fact and fiction of the Arran sweater. As a child, I loved the Arran patterned sweater that my nan knitted for me so I will certainly try to get along to that talk. It might even inspire me to get knitting again and that really would be a New Year achievement.

As distinct from the usual Wednesday and Sunday tours, the Chester Beatty runs events called ‘In Focus Tours’. These events sound particularly interesting as they home in on a specific theme each time and look at it in more depth. One of these themes is the ‘Costumes from the Ulster Museum’ by Elise Taylor (28 March) which again links to the Costumes Parisiens exhibition as the outfits on display are on loan from the Ulster Museum. Another topic that appeals to me is ‘Judging a Book by its Cover: Beautiful Bindings in Chester Beatty’s Collection’ by Mary O’Riordan (3 April). These tours begin at 1.10pm in the library’s atrium and are limited to the first fifteen visitors, so no booking is required. Either a tour or a talk would be a nice way to spend your lunch break.

The National Gallery of Ireland’s 150th anniversary falls this year so look out for events celebrating this milestone in Ireland’s cultural history. In the new event guide, Gallery director Sean Rainbird has written that the event programme will have a ‘focus on the achievements of the past and aspirations for the future…explored through a variety of exhibitions, complemented by rare and previously unseen material from the NGI Archives and Library’. An important part of the NGI’S Collection is the Vaughan Bequest of thirty-one of JMW Turner watercolours and drawings; as is usual, the collection will be on show from 1-31 January (in the Beit Wing, Room 9 this year rather than in the Print Room).

One exhibition that I’m particularly looking forward to is ‘Care of the Collection’, which is due to open on 18 January. As the title suggests, this exhibition will focus on the ways and means of looking after the collection from the early days up to the present. The gallery established a dedicated conservation department in 1964, which heralded a more scientific approach to conservation. It seems strange to think of art and science going hand in hand, but science and technology are very important in the conservation of sometimes-fragile artworks. This promises to be a fascinating peep behind the scenes, showing mediaeval paintings alongside photographic documentation of conservation work carried out.   

I hope that I’ve given you a tempting taster of some of the up-coming year’s events and I’ll keep you posted on future cultural treats.

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