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ROSC 50: A Collaboration Between NIVAL and IMMA

An Introduction to NIVAL, the National Irish Visual Arts Library

This year IMMA and NIVAL are collaborating on ‘ROSC 50‘; a project that seeks to examine the pivotal and sometimes controversial Rosc exhibitions held in Ireland from 1967 to 1984. We asked Meghan Elward Duffy, who joined IMMA earlier this year, to take a first time trip to NIVAL to explore the archive and write this introduction to the National Irish Visual Arts Library.

Within the buzzing and somewhat quirky campus of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) on Thomas Street, Dublin lies a small yet significant library dedicated to preserving the record and memory of contemporary art in Ireland and that of Irish artists abroad. This is the National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL) and is an important resource for historians, artists, designers, and anyone wishing to learn about the history of contemporary art and design in Ireland – be they hobbyists or professionals.

Though I had visited the campus of NCAD many times before, this marked my first visit to NIVAL. And, aside from knowing exactly where I was going, I would have skipped over it completely had I not been looking for it.

While located within the campus of NCAD, the library is open to anyone who seeks information relating to contemporary art and design in Ireland. No student IDs or special library cards are required to visit or view the materials and the atmosphere of both NIVAL and NCAD is open, friendly and incredibly accessible.

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“The devastation of the people”: an interview with Nancy Scheper-Hughes

Duncan Campbell, The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy, 2016 (still). Photo courtesy of Rina Yang

On a recent return to Ireland in late March, at the invitation of the School of Applied Social Studies, University College Cork, anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes appeared for two speaking engagements to discuss her first major piece of work ‘Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics‘ (1979/ 2001) and how it has served as a source of inspiration for artist Duncan Campbell.  Campbell’s latest film work The Welfare of Tomás Ó Hallissy was, in part, inspired by Scheper-Hughes’ debut. In IMMA on the 30 March she spoke with Campbell and Professor Luke Gibbons (acting as discussion moderator) reflecting on her experiences of tracing the social disintegration of a remote village in Ireland and her later attempts to reconcile an honest ethnography with the community. The talk held at IMMA was recorded and can be listened at the end of this blog post or on SoundCloud by clicking here. She then traveled to Cork on 3 April 2017 to speak with IMMA Director Sarah Glennie at University College Cork – School of Applied Social Studies.

Saints, Scholars and Schizophrenics is an objective study of rural Irish life in the small town of ‘Ballybran’ in the 1970s. Plagued by social and individual problems, Scheper-Hughes was intrigued by the social life of the villagers and how their culture, language, religion, values, interactions, and way of life contributed to the community’s daily life and overall slow, yet steady decline through illness, emigration and isolation. Scheper-Hughes took particular interest in the prevalence of mental illness in rural communities, especially amongst men who often suffered from severe depression and schizophrenia.

While Scheper-Hughes was staying with us at IMMA we invited Dr. Lisa Godson, Co-Director, MA Design History and Material Culture, NCAD to meet with her and to write this blog about the occasion.

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The Gordon Lambert Archive Project (Continued)

This is the second of two blogs by Ciara Ball from IMMA’s Visitor Engagement Team introducing Gordon Lambert and his life as a collector and patron as documented through his archive.  A selection of material from the Gordon lambert Archive was on display during National Heritage Week.

Image of suitcase -detail- Photographer Chris Jones

Gordon Lambert’s suitcase, Photo by Chris Jones

Throughout the early 1980’s Gordon Lambert travelled to meetings and exhibitions as a member of the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art and continued to support Irish artists and build his own collection. Influenced by his experiences with the International Council and the desire to make his art works more available to a public audience his attention became increasingly focused on the need for a national museum of modern art in Ireland. By the time of his retirement from Jacob’s  in 1986 he had become a prominent figure in a growing movement to create a national museum. By the next year the project had gained the approval of then Taoiseach Charles Haughey and with the promise of Gordon’s artworks as the basis for a nation collection debate began about the best location for a new museum.  A city centre site on the Quays known as ‘Stack A’ and the recently restored Royal Hospital Kilmainham divided public opinion until Haughey ended the discussion by announcing IMMA’s establishment in the Royal Hospital in October 1987.

Scanned 1992 Gordon Lambert Exhibition at IMMA reduced 2

Gordon Lambert exhibition at IMMA, 1992

IMMA opened on May 25th 1991 with an inaugural exhibition entitled Inheritance and Transformation. A large selection of works from the Gordon Lambert Collection were first shown in their new home the following year. Over the intervening twenty five years the IMMA Collection has formed the basis of numerous exhibitions, both onsite and in venues throughout the country as part of the museum’s National Programme.

As well as serving on the advisory committee and the first two boards of IMMA during the 1990s, Gordon was a board member of the Art Committee of the Ulster Museum and the Ireland – America Arts Exchange Foundation. He was made an Honorary Doctor in Laws by Trinity College Dublin in 1999 and ended the decade by receiving a Business2Arts award for lifetime commitment to the arts in Ireland.  Despite ill health in his later years, evidence from the archive attests to his continual engagement, through print and correspondence when not possible in person, with all aspects of Ireland’s cultural life, and with the enjoyment and commitment which had always driven him to add so much to it.

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Gordon Lambert at home with his Collection

Material from the Gordon Lambert Archive was on display during National Heritage week. The cataloguing of the archive is ongoing. For more information please contact Ciara Ball ciara.ball@imma.ie  or Nuria Carballeira nuria.carballeira@imma.ie, Collections Department, IMMA.  Visitors who are interested in Gordon Lambert can also find the works from his collection donated to IMMA here.

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The Gordon Lambert Archive Project

In the first of two blogs Ciara Ball introduces Gordon Lambert and his life as a collector and art lover before a selection of material from his archive goes on display for National Heritage Week. Ciara Ball is a Member of IMMA’s Visitor Engagement Team. Ciara is working with Nuria Carballeira, Assistant Curator of IMMA’s Collections Department on the Gordon Lambert Archive, IMMA’s first significant archive project funded with help from The Heritage Council.

crop Scanned b&w photograph GL dog with artworks by P Scott J Arp (2) crop1

Gordon Lambert at home with his Collection

Gordon Lambert was one of the first and most generous supporters of IMMA since the campaign for its creation began in the late 1980s. His private collection of over 300 artworks was gifted in stages to the IMMA Collection following its opening in 1991 and includes many well-loved pieces now familiar to our regular visitors. Since 2005 IMMA has also held Gordon’s expansive art library and archive containing letters, cards, photographs, printed material and ephemera collected over six decades. With the help of a grant from the Heritage Council we have now begun the absorbing task of cataloguing this fascinating resource.

Gordon Lambert studied accounting at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1944 he entered the biscuit manufacturing firm W&R Jacob and began a lifelong career in which he would serve the company as Chief Accountant, Marketing Director, Managing Director and finally Chairman from 1977. It was also in the 1940’s that Gordon met Cecil King who in turn introduced him to a large circle of artists and gallerists, many of whom were to become friends and contributors to his budding collection. Meetings in the Robt. Roberts Cáfe on Grafton Street led to soirées at King’s Pembroke Road home and acquaintance with an artistic circle including Oliver Dowling, Patrick Hennessy, Henry Robertson Craig and gallerist David Hendriks.

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Archive material from Gordon Lambert Archive, Photo: Chris Jones

Gordon bought his first painting Pont du Carrousel (1954) by Barbara Warren in 1954. This was followed by Aperitif (c.1956) by Henry Robertson Craig and Patrick Hennessy’s Boy and Seagull (c.1954), recently included in the very popular exhibition Patrick Hennessy: De Profundis. During the 1960s he continued to support Irish artists while also adding significant international names to his collection. The many friends who congregated in his Rathfarnham home Continue reading


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Artist’s Voice: Memorial Gardens

IMMA recently invited writer Sue Rainsford to respond to Niamh O’Malley’s The Memorial Gardens, 2008, which is featured in our current exhibition IMMA Collection: A Decade. The response is in the context of Art | Memory | Place, a year-long programme focusing on artists whose work addresses themes relating to memory and place. 

Made in 2008, while participating in IMMA’s Artist Residency Programme, The Memorial Gardens by Niamh O’Malley is an installation comprising footage taken at the National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, Dublin, projected onto oil on etched-primed aluminium.


Niamh O'Malley, 'The Memorial Gardens', 2008, Video projection, oil on etched-primed aluminium, Duration: 7min.22 sec. loop, 140 x 250 x 5.5 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase | 2010

Niamh O’Malley, ‘The Memorial Gardens’, 2008, Video projection, oil on etched-primed aluminium, Duration: 7min.22 sec. loop, 140 x 250 x 5.5 cm, Collection Irish Museum of Modern Art, Purchase | 2010

What can we ascertain of the human gaze and the shadow it casts? Or of memory, that diaphanous veil that shrouds even the most vibrant recollections? Continue reading