Trinity's 'College Gallery': The Swing of the Sixties
3 April - 7 June 2015
Curated by Richard Wood
Lismore Castle Arts is delighted to bring to the gallery a special selection of 20th century works from the Trinity College Art Collections. Curated by Richard Wood, the exhibition includes key Irish and international pieces by Josef Albers, Karel Appel, Barra Boydell, Patrick Collins, Barrie Cooke, Carlos Cruz-Diez, Micheal Farrell, Robert Indiana, Cecil King, Roy Lichtenstein, Mick O’Dea, Nano Reid, Patrick Scott, William Scott, Peter Sedgley and Victor Vasarely
For over 55 years, generations of students, staff and visitors at Trinity College Dublin have been introduced to the excitements and challenges of the contemporary visual arts - at the moment of their emergence - through the activities and display of modern art collected for a picture hire scheme, known on campus as ‘The College Gallery’. In the late 1960s, Richard Wood was a member of the student volunteer group organised by George Dawson, founder of the Genetics Department and the picture hire scheme.
The purpose of ‘The College Gallery’ was to loan to students in halls of residence pictures for their rooms and was later extended to staff and departments. Organised and run by undergraduates, a growing collection was exhibited over two days in the university’s Public Theatre where residents could view and then ballot for their choices. As time progressed, students became increasingly involved in the process of collecting contemporary art at Trinity. Impassioned by George’s enthusiasm for the emerging artistic trends of the time, students were encouraged to discover their own critical eye and aesthetic inclinations.
This exhibition introduces the sense of wonder and excitement experienced by these students in the Sixties. Together with George and other key staff members like Professor Anne Crookshank and Adrian Phillips, they travelled the length and breadth of Ireland and often further afield, feasting on ‘the swing’ taking place in the visual arts. Urban and abstract subjects began to dominate resulting in bold styles and techniques such as hard-edged minimalism and silkscreen printing, Op, Pop and Kinetic art, reflecting wider, pervasive social changes. Student imaginations were captured and the College’s Modern Art collection was firmly established.
The influence of the ‘College Gallery’ is far-reaching, having played a significant role in the establishment of the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at Trinity as well as the development of The Trinity Exhibition Hall in 1967, a collaboration with the Arts Council, and the first university art gallery in Ireland. Featuring recent and contemporary artistic movements such as Op, Pop and Kinetic art, and artists such as Moore, Picasso, Lichtenstein, Sedgley, Appel, and a retrospective of Ireland’s Norah McGuinness, The Trinity Exhibition Hall was instrumental in showcasing international and national artists to Irish audiences, its ten-year run culminating in the establishment of the permanent university gallery in the guise of The Douglas Hyde Gallery.
The exhibition is conceived and curated for Lismore Castle Arts by Richard Wood. Lismore Castle Arts would like to thank Catherine Giltrap, Curator of the University Art Collections, and Carolyn Kelly, Collections Management and Curatorial Assistant, Trinity College Dublin, for their assistance and enthusiasm for the exhibition.
For further information on Trinity’s ‘College Gallery’: The Swing of the Sixties or Lismore Castle Arts, please contact:
Paul McAree, Exhibitions Manager
Tel: +353 (0)58 54061