Exhibition: Drawn To The Page

What: Drawn To The Page, an exhibition of Irish illustration c. 1830-1930

When: until the 21st of April

Where: Long Room, Old Library, Trinity College Dublin

Included in cost of visiting the Book of Kells.

This is a wonderful exhibition of illustrations by Irish artists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, a golden age of Irish illustation,  featuring artists such as Harry Clarke, Daniel Maclise, George Petrie and Jack B Yeats. The image used on the poster (above) is by Harry Clarke, and shows off the intricacy and delicate detail of his work, as seen in his fairy tale illustrations and stained-glass windows.

The work in this exhibition is highly varied, from monochrome woodblock prints, to detailed engravings and colourful watercolours. The period the exhibition covers is an interesting one, and some of the illustrations shown reflect concerns of Irish nationalism – through portrayals of Irish views and antiquities, or Beatrice Elvery’s bold images of ancient Irish heroes.  Apart from this, the range of subject matter covered is impressive – ranging from nursery rhymes, to Maclise’s illustration of Arthurian legend, to Elizabeth Corbet Yeats’ teaching guide on painting, and Harry Clarke’s borders in the Irish Memorial Records – and different innovations such as colour printing are well explained, or the pros and cons of woodblock prints vs engravings contrasted.

Something I really enjoyed about the exhibition was the strong representation of female artists. As well as the artists already mentioned – Beatrice Elvery and Elizabeth Yeats –  the exhibition also includes Margaret Stokes’ illustrations of Early Christian Ireland and Mabel Annesley’s  bold monochrome prints in the traditional woodblock style, among others.

This is a fascinating and well-curated exhibition, with plenty of variety and information for visitors. It also has an impressive (and fitting) setting in the Old Library. Well worth a visit – but hurry, it ends on the 21st!


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