IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art

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Artist’s Voice:: Ronan McCrea

Ronan McCrea’s ‘Medium (Corporate Entities)’ was originally commissioned on the occasion of ‘10,000 to 50’, an exhibition celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Business to Arts, which took place at IMMA prior to the 2008 financial crisis. In 2013, ‘Medium (Corporate Entities)’ was purchased for the IMMA Collection. Here, McCrea writes on the history of the project and its latest iteration, currently on show as part of the ‘Fragments’ exhibition until July 26th Continue reading

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Artist’s Voice:: Alan Phelan on ‘Fragments’

As the IMMA Collection show ‘Fragments’ enters its final weeks, artist Alan Phelan reflects on his involvement in the layout of the exhibition. Continue reading

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Video:: Marguerite O’Molloy introduces ‘Fragments’

Marguerite O’Molloy (Collections, IMMA) introduces the current exhibition: Fragments, which will run until 26 July. Fragments encompasses a wide variety of examples from the IMMA Collection, ranging from the 1950’s through to contemporary works recently acquired for the Collection.

This exhibition borrows its title from Philosopher Walter Benjamin’s comparison of the work of translation to re-assembling fragments of a broken vase – the individual fragments must come together, but need not be like each other. This could also be taken as an allegory for exhibition making, or collecting.

The exhibition includes the first-showing since their acquisition of a number of recent works by Irish artists, including The sky looks down on almost as many things as the ceiling, (2013) a wall based sculpture by Aleana Egan and commissioned works by Ronan McCrea and Alan Phelan. The latter two are lens-based works titled Medium (Corporate Entities) and Include me out of the Partisan Manifesto, which resulted from IMMA’s programme of temporary exhibitions. McCrea’s photographic enquiry into spaces where corporate art collections are hung, took place before the economic collapse.

Caoimhe Kilfeather’s newly acquired lead sculpture Abbreviation, (2011) joins works by Michael Warren, Shirazeh Houshiary, Brian King and Kathy Prendergast selected from the IMMA Collection. These works have an aesthetic and historic affinity with the sculpture and drawing of Gerda Frömel – whose retrospective, will be running concurrently in IMMA’s Garden Galleries.

GILBERT & GEORGE’s large-scale photowork Smoke Rising, (1989), Nigel Rolfe’sDance Slap for Africa, (1983) and will be shown along with other activist works or works with emphasis on performance including a film by Phil Collins and historic works by Marina Abramović.

Fragments will include a number of Subjectivist works by WW II imigrès, the White Stag artists, bequested by the late artist Patrick Scott to IMMA in 2014.  Scott exhibited with the White Stag from 1941 and the group swopped each others paintings.  The donation is particularly rich in key works by Kenneth Hall who was a close friend of Scott.

Now in her 85th year, Camille Souter’s works included in Fragments are among some of her finest works of the 1950s and 60s and show her interest in Miró, Klee, Jackson Pollock and Arte Povera. In 1958 Lucio Fontana bought two of her paintings.

A pioneer of Conceptual Art and author of the renowned Inside the White Cube, Brian O’Doherty / Patrick Ireland’s enduring obsession with themes of language, perception and identity are represented by a selection of his works from the IMMA Collection dating from 1954 onwards and include a major new Rope Drawing which is a recent gift to IMMA by the artist, entitled: The doors to good and evil and the windows to heaven – Christina’s World,  Rope Drawing No # 124,  2015.


Marguerite O’Molloy on Sarah Browne’s project currently installed at IMMA.

It’s like fishing. You have to show up.


This is how Mark Wall, a licensed amateur radio operator of South Eastern Amateur Radio Group (SEARG), describes the process of communicating with Morse code via shortwave radio.

Seen working the Morse key above, Mark and his colleagues from SEARG are involved in activating Remembering Gray, a piece by Sarah Browne which is currently on show at IMMA.

Sarah Browne’s involvement in the programme at IMMA might best be described as an invited response, which came out of an artist/curator studio visit and subsequent site visit to the museum. What appealed to me about Browne’s practice was her modest yet deliberate approach and an interest invisibility and scale. For example, when Browne was commissioned by the Daimler Art Collection in 2010 to continue her research relating to Eileen Gray, her response included three milled steel doorstops. They are linked to the scale of the artist’s hand, and after initial exhibition in Minimalism and Applied II are now on permanent display at the Daimler Contemporary gallery in Berlin, where they prop the gallery doors open; hiding in plain sight.

Doorstops for the Daimler Art Collection, 2010. Milled stainless steel. Installation view at Haus Huth, Berlin.

Doorstops for the Daimler Art Collection, 2010. Milled stainless steel. Installation view at Haus Huth, Berlin.

Also part of the Daimler commission, From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen) is a 46 page book in leporello format designed by Sarah Browne with Peter Maybury. It can be purchased as a limited edition book, and can also be installed in a gallery setting, where it extends over 7 metres when fully unfolded.

margin to margin installed at daimler
Above, the book is installed at Daimler Contemporary on a lichen-green wall, the colour of the maid’s bedroom in Eileen Gray’s E1027. In a self-assigned contract declared through the colophon of the book, Browne committed to use any funds generated through its sale ‘in the service of the memory of Eileen Gray’.
It is now installed at IMMA, and copies are available to buy on site in the IMMA Shop.
When I first met with Sarah Browne to discuss what she might do at IMMA, From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen) was complete, but the work or action to be developed using the fund from the book sales — what has become the project Remembering Gray — was still something Sarah was working on. It seemed timely to invite Sarah to show that new work during our opening programme to coincide with Eileen Gray’s retrospective at IMMA.
From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen) is currently installed at IMMA; along with Browne’s new project Remembering Gray, 2013. For the new work, a functional sculpture by Browne houses radio equipment and a World War II era Morse key. It is a powder-coated steel and glass structure, with an open and sometimes floating form. I read this openness as pointing to the lack of start and end to the work, the lack of a definite edge. The sculpture is oriented to address the window, looking out Westwards from the gallery space.


Above, we can see a line that connects the radio equipment installed at IMMA to the exterior. A cable travels up and out through the window frame and onwards into the trees beyond where it transmits via an antenna. The transmission reach is international, as is the language.
On the wall behind the radio operator you can see an email from Sarah Browne to the poet Alice Lyons. This is the first approach to commissioning Lyons to create a new poem addressing the many issues surrounding Gray’s remembrance or legacy. The resulting poem by Lyons is titled something permanent. (Lyons own text about that appears in the IMMAblog)
The poem is transmitted via Morse code from the temporary radio station located in the gallery at IMMA. The call sign for the station is EI2EEN. A call sign is a code following a set combination of numbers and letters on this occasion its structure conveniently allows for a poetic suggestion of EILEEN. (EI is mandatory for Irish stations; temporary stations such as this can then apply for their chosen combination of one number followed by three letters).
Amateur radio, whether using voice or Morse code, is not a broadcast but a transmission. Licensed amateur radio operators (radio ‘hams’) adhere to strict codes of conduct. An operator transmits a call to answer and if it is received by another radio operator, a conversation may follow. The call is always the same; a repetitive CQ, CQ, or seek you, seek you. A search cast into the ether for that elusive, nibbling reply.


Transmissions are recorded in a log book, this is a legal requirement. Radio conditions can be hampered by all sorts of things, weather for example. Recently there has been a Solar storm which has an impact on the Earth’s magnetic field causing poor conditions. Solar storms are also responsible for Solar winds and are the reason we see the Aurora Borealis.

qsl card design
The work has an international reach; QSL cards (like postcards) are exchanged with those who engage in communication, and these become a physical archive of the conversations and transmissions. The QSL card for this station (shown above) is designed by Oonagh Young and has Alice Lyons poem something permanent on the front, and the necessary technical data for the station on the back.


It was, from the outset, Browne’s intention for the work to have a number of possible iterations. While on show at IMMA Remembering Gray was also shown in Grazer Kunstverein. There, an intervention into the gallery’s lighting system ensured that a single fluorescent tube delivered Lyons’ poem as it flickered on and off.

Browne and Lyons’ work will continue to become visible in other ways too. Fugitive papers # 5 includes a printed extract of the project, partly framed by a discussion of how research-based practices and performed or durational works are represented by public institutions and collections.

Browne’s work is research-led and involves collaboration with people from other fields of expertise (including amateur expertise); in this instance the radio operators are volunteers who generously give their time to realise the work. The images below show volunteers installing the radio antenna — SEARG member Dennis Drennan, who is also a tree surgeon, uses a giant slingshot to launch the wire up and secure it to a tree.

catapult on grass

catapult in action 2 men

Radio antenna with Tony Cragg Untitled, Bronze, 1991 in the background. IMMA, Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Photo Olive Barrett.

Radio antenna with Tony Cragg Untitled, Bronze, 1991 in the background. IMMA, Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Photo Olive Barrett.

Radio antenna being installed in trees at IMMA, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, with SEARG members Sean Byrne and David Gainda. Photo Olive Barrett

Radio antenna being installed in trees at IMMA, Royal Hospital Kilmainham, with SEARG members Sean Byrne and David Gainda. Photo Olive Barrett

Thiais cemetery
There is nothing permanent marking Eileen Gray’s grave. Her remains are in a group plot in Thiais Cemetery in Paris. The photograph above is a detail from the book From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen).

Radio antenna installed in trees at IMMA, Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Photo Olive Barrett

Radio antenna installed in trees at IMMA, Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Photo Olive Barrett

Remembering Gray is a flexible memorial. It calls for minding, and for a witness. It is at once inside and outside, visible and invisible, permanent and impermanent. Eileen Gray longed for something permanent, in Ireland. With Browne’s project, something permanent is experienced in the context of a Museum, which gathers, collects and tries to halt the march of time as evidenced in the presentation of Eileen Gray’s precious objects currently on display in sealed climate-controlled vitrines.

In the rooms next to Browne’s project, works from the IMMA Collection by Juan Muñoz, Patrick Jolley, RebeccaTrost and Inger Lise Hansen address questions of site and call to mind the lives of spaces and how buildings are interwoven with our sense of self.

Warren_Michael_Stele XI_IMMA.3418

In an adjoining room Michael Warren’s Stele XI is installed. A stele is a marker, often used to show a boundary line or a burial place. A memorial needs not be a headstone, or statue, or eulogy; something which appears to be ephemeral, such as a radio transmission, has reach and permanence in the collective memory.

Marguerite O’Molloy

Browne’s works From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen) and Remembering Gray are shown in the context of One Foot in the Real World, the current exhibition from the IMMA Collection curated by Marguerite O’Molloy. Photography above by Sarah Browne and Olive Barrett.

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Poet Alice Lyons tells us about her new work something permanent

IMG_3068 screen(1)

Sarah Browne, Remembering Gray, 2013, In collaboration with Alice Lyons and South East Amateur Radio Group (SEARG), Installation shot showing Mark Wall from SEARG transmitting Morse code

For the duration of the installation of Remembering Gray a project by Sarah Browne currently installed at IMMA, a poem is transmitted via Morse code each Saturday. Transmissions are made by members of the South Eastern Amateur Radio Group, who operate the temporary shortwave radio station EI2EEN from the West Wing Galleries on Saturdays between 12:00 and 16:00.

“I wrote the poem called ‘something permanent’ in a visual format that vaguely echoes one of my favourite of Gray’s designs, the Centimeter rug.


Brand Name: palazzetti modern classics rugs eileen gray
Item#/SKU: centimeter

The poem is a diptych, meaning that it is in two parts that mirror each other.


Alice Lyons, something permanent, 2013

It comprises three triolets on each side with alternating long lines, mimicking the short and long marks on a ruler.

I used the triolet, a French metrical form, since Gray lived for most of her long life in France. A triolet is an eight-line form with a strict rhyme scheme: abaaabab. I adhere and don’t adhere to that form here.

The poem’s title is a snippet from a letter Gray wrote on July 22, 1975 to Mr. John Teahan of the National Museum of Ireland: …I should have liked so much to have something permanent in Ireland but I suppose it is too late now. The fragility of that conditional tense is striking when one considers the monumentality of Gray’s impact as we now understand it.

All of the long lines are quotations from actual texts either about Eileen Gray or in her own words. The triolets (the stanzas with shorter lines) are code-like. In the first one, I list many of the ways that people misnamed Eileen Gray and cross them out, leaving only her correct name. Others of the triolets play with various words and numbers: codes Gray herself used to name her work; names of materials and objects she used in her work; snippets of lines from her notebooks and so on.”

Alice Lyons

Sarah Brownes works From Margin to Margin (Looking for Eileen) and Remembering Gray are on show in One Foot in the Real World, the current exhibition from the IMMA Collection curated by Marguerite O’ Molloy.
One Foot in the Real World  continues until 27 April 2014.