The Crawford Gallery is Cork’s public art Gallery. The main part of the building, built in 1724, was originally the Cork Customs House. Emmet Place, where it’s located, today is a wide street but used to be a harbour off the north channel of the River Lee. The gallery was extended in 2000, substantially increasing the exhibition space.
I visited it twice during my short stay in Cork – in the daytime and then during Thursday evening when it’s open until 8 o’clock.
They have a decent collection of paintings but not on the scale of the public galleries in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.
Outside I spotted this Banksy style stencil on the wall outside.
Inside, on the main staircase there was an attractive, contemporary stained glass work in the window.
Unfortunately I didn’t make a note of the artist’s name.
At the top of the stairs there was a sculpture by the Northern Irish artist, F. E McWilliam depicting a woman blown over by an explosion during “the Troubles”
Woman in Bomb Blast (1974) by F.E. McWilliam,
I normally associate McWilliam with abstract works, but this is very realistic. A little research revealed that this work
is the last and largest sculpture from a series called Women of Belfast which, he explained, ‘was concerned with violence, with one particular aspect, bomb-blast – the woman as victim of man’s stupidity’. Although they can be read as a metaphor for women affected by violence, these sculptures were McWilliam’s response to the Provisional IRA bombing of the Abercorn Restaurant in the centre of Belfast on 4 March 1972. The bomb exploded in the restaurant which was packed with Saturday afternoon shoppers, killing two women and injuring some 70 other people.
The Gallery’s collection spans the centuries from the 16th Century onwards. I particularly liked the exhibition of works by Irish artists from the AlB Art Collection which was donated to the Irish State in February 2012 and will become part of the Crawford Art Gallery’s permanent collection. These were some of my favourites
The cockle pickers (1890) by Joseph Malachy Kavangh
Corpus Christi Procession (1880) by Aloysius O’Kelly
A Race in Hy Brazil (1937) by Jack B. Yeats
Blue Still Life With Knife (1971) by William Scott
A Place With Stones (1979) by Patrick Collins
Habiba (1892) by John Lavery
The gallery also has a collection of watercolours, ink drawings and stained glass by Harry Clarke whose marvellous stained glass windows I saw in the Honan Chapel a mile or so away.
The Gallery’s website tells us
Clarke may be described as Ireland’s major Symbolist artist, whose synthesis of literary, musical, poetic and imagined visual images draws on a wide range of eclectic, sometimes obscure sources to produce an entirely original and idiosyncratic vision. This is as firmly rooted in the Yeatsian Celtic Revival and National Romanticism of late 19th/early 20th century Ireland as in European Symbolism, Decadence, and Art Nouveau of the same period, with the unusual extra dimension of consummate technical skill in stained glass.
The Gallery’s collection included a large number of cartoons – preparatory drawings on paper – for his masterpiece The Eve of St Agnes which is displayed at the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin
and illustrations from Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
Most of the earlier works on show and the temporary exhibitions didn’t particularly interest me, each to his own, and I didn’t intend to look around the large room full of casts of Classical Graeco-Roman sculpture. But on my second visit on my way out I popped into the sculpture gallery which is to one side of the entrance. I’m glad I did because tucked away on the wall in the corner was a large painting by Hughie O’Donoghue.
Raft (2007) by Hughie O’Donoghue