Date Published: 13-Nov-2009
ANTIQUE and art lovers will have a chance to indulge their passion when 200 works of art and 300 items of furniture and fittings go under the hammer next Sunday in Kennys Auction Room in the Liosbán Estate.
This major event includes work by major artists including Francis Bacon, Patrick Hennessy, Louis le Brocquy, Kenneth Webb and Eddie Delaney as well as furniture from the Edwardian, Georgian, Victorian and later eras, including china and other items.
The auction is a joint venture between Kennys Bookshop & Art Gallery and Mullens Auctioneers in Bray, following an approach to Kennys by Joe Mullens, explains Conor Kenny of the gallery.
This isn’t the first time that Kennys have been involved in auctions, he adds, but it’s the first that is being held in their own space, located above the bindery, a series of rooms that allow the pieces to be displayed to maximum advantage.
Mullens and Kennys have travelled the country over the last six months sourcing art and furniture for this sale. “Joe Mullens brought in the furniture and we have brought in the art,” says Conor. “Most of the art comes from two collections. Because of the recession the two collectors are selling and the reserves are pretty minimal.”
For instance, a piece by Graham Knuttel that was commissioned for €15,000 has a guide price of between €5,000 and €6,000. There are also several paintings by Rasher, the man made popular by Bono, and the same rules apply.
A piece by Rachel Strong entitled Night Life has a reserve of €6,000-€8,000 – a similar work sold in a gallery in Dublin for €40,000.
A Francis Bacon lithograph on paper – one of an edition of 30 – has a reserve of between €28,000 and €30,000, which is pricey but reasonable given the prices that Bacon’s work commands, says Conor.
There is also a limited series of prints by the recently deceased sculptor Eddie Delaney. This is being sold as a set, with a reserve of €1,800-€2,000. However, given that five sculptures by the artist sold for 10 times the reserve price at auction recently, be prepared for that figure to increase when the bidding starts.
The auction contains two Patrick Hennessy paintings, which have never been seen in Ireland before. One, entitled The Fledgling has a reserve of €7,000-€9,000. Kennys have previously sold some of his work for up to €30,000, says Conor.
Furniture highlights include a fine Victorian mahogany, walnut and polychrome occasional table by Gillow and Co, and an Edwardian mahogany desk, by Maple and Co as well as an Irish famine chairs, made from pine and elm.
Lot 202 is an extraordinary piece. The catalogue lists it as “An unusual Cream painted cupboard on chest modelled as a Georgian house”, and it has to be seen to be believed. Love it or hate it, it’s hard to ignore it. The guide price is €1500-€18000.
There is also a collection of tin boxes from the 1950, which would make an ideal prop for a theatre company or somebody kitting out an old-fashioned pub, although that might be a rare occurrence these days.
A set of stair rods, a pair of bird cages, a zither, and four milk jugs are among the more eclectic items on offer.
There is a real chance of getting value for money at the auction, says Conor, who says that, in the current climate, even those with money are reluctant to spend it. “It doesn’t matter what you market at present. People are nervous. I’ve never seen anything like it, hence there is huge value.
“But, having said that, the last five or six auctions in Ireland have been successful, including the one where Eddie Delaney’s work was sold.”
Kennys, who have been to the forefront of the art market in Ireland for decades, have survived tough times before and Conor is confident that they will ride out this storm. “We created the business and a huge amount of it was creating publicity, which is what we are doing now.” And if this auction is successful they intend to hold several such events annually.
Viewing times for the auction at Kennys is today Friday, from 10am-8pm, Saturday from 10am-6pm and Sunday from 10am-12 noon.
The auction starts at 12 noon on Sunday and Conor expects it to be concluded by 6pm that evening.
The way we were – Protecting archives of our past
People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.
Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.
She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.
Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.
Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.
When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.
Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.
And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.
All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.
“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”
That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.
For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here
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