‘Yeats & the West’ on Tour

Hawthorn, Connemara by Fergus Bourke.
Mar 21 2016 Posted: 09:15 GMT

Major exhibition exploring W.B. Yeats’ connections with the West in The Model, Sligo

A major NUI Galway exhibition celebrating the many connections W.B. Yeats had with the west of Ireland opens at The Model in Sligo next week. NUI Galway, in association with Yeats2015, will present ‘Yeats & the West’, an exhibition exploring Yeats’s life, work, legacy and deep connections to the west of Ireland in Sligo from 24 March to continue throughout the spring.

Alongside the exhibition, every Thursday NUI Galway and The Model will present an exciting series of public talks, tours, and schools events.

Highlights of the Yeats & the West exhibition include original artworks by Jack B. Yeats and his father John Butler Yeats, and a wealth of visual material from artists like Norah McGuinness and photographers from Fergus Bourke to Nicolas Fève, alongside rarely seen images, manuscripts, and books from archive collections in NUI Galway such as the Lady Gregory Collection, the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, and the Lyric Theatre Belfast. The exhibition is part of NUI Galway’s contribution to Ireland’s decade of commemorations and the worldwide Yeats2015 series of cultural events marking his 150th birthday.

President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne explained: “As a civic university we enjoy a strong relationship with our region. Sligo and the north-west are especially important to us as witnessed by our longstanding relationship with St Angela’s College and our recently opened Sligo Medical Academy. With Yeats & the West we have developed a 6-week programme of public talks, tours and schools events around this popular exhibition so that we can engage with our alumni, with prospective students and the general public in the north-west. We are delighted to partner with The Model in this initiative and I hope that many visitors will get a chance to enjoy the exhibition and connect with NUI Galway over the coming weeks.”

William Butler Yeats, poet, playwright, politician, and Nobel prize-winner for literature always looked west. For Yeats the west was the wellspring of songs, stories, folklore, artwork, drama, crafts; the foundation of the Irish imagination. It was also the landscape of his poetry and plays. Significant events of his life took place here; collaborations that formed his work were forged here. ‘Yeats & the West’ tells this remarkable story and considers what the west meant to him.

“I think people sometimes forget that Yeats was not just a poet: he was a cultural revolutionary. To put it differently you might say he was a collaborator, an entrepreneur, an artist and a man who made things happen,” said Dr Adrian Paterson, of NUI Galway and curator of the exhibition.

“The west was the landscape of Yeats’s poetry. It was also a wellspring of songs, stories, folklore, artwork, drama, crafts. The talks we are presenting look at his life and loves, his poetry, his influences. But they also feature his collaborations, and the songs and plays and artwork and the politics of those around him that shaped modern Ireland. It’s a western revolution.”

“There’s a western tradition of art and making that continues right up to the present day, which is why we’re so pleased scholars like Margaret Mills Harper, Adrian Frazier, and Hilary Pyle, will be speaking not only about W.B. Yeats and his poetry but also the wider cultural sphere, including his own family of makers,” added Dr Adrian Paterson.

Yeats & the West is an exhibition of collaborations. The exhibition highlights the gifted artists of Yeats’s own family, in books from the Cuala Press and images of the Dun Emer embroideries from St. Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea. A complete collection of the Cuala Press Broadsides designed by Jack B. Yeats and recently acquired by The Model will also be on show. The Broadsides feature colloquial poetry and song as well as original, hand coloured illustrations by Jack Yeats. The exhibition also features material from the Arthur Shields Collection, a spectacular resource of letters, photographs, and first editions.

The Model’s Acting Director, Emer McGarry, said “The Model is delighted to partner with NUI Galway on this fascinating exhibition. Yeats & the West not only illuminates the influence of western culture on the Yeats Family, but also shines a light on the network of ideas and artistic endeavours that existed between the family and the wider Yeats circle. We are particularly excited to present the accompanying academic lecture series to audiences in the Northwest throughout the duration of the show.”

Yeats & the West tells a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are. The Yeats & the West exhibition runs from 24 March at The Model in Sligo. The exhibition is presented in association with NUI Galway, and supported by the University’s Moore Institute and James Hardiman Library, as well as the National Library of Ireland, St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea, Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, and Yeats2015.

In parallel with the public programme of events NUI Galway has a school liaison initiative with targeted workshops for Leaving Certificate and Transition Year students. If your school would like further information or to visit the exhibition contact Grainne Dunne at schoolvisits@nuigalway.ie

For further information please visit yeatsandthewest.org and themodel.ie.


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