15 Jun. 2012
Sligo was a hive of activity on this past Wednesday, June the 13th. Yeats Day has been highly anticipated in Sligo since the Minister for Transport, State and Tourism, Michael Ring launched A Season of Yeats on Friday May 25th here in The Model. A Season of Yeats is a new tourism initiative delivering a series of high quality Yeats Festivals and Events during the summer of 2012. Yeats Day celebrates the anniversary of Yeats birth and was an appropriate opening to what will be a very Yeatsian summer.
The Model had an important role to play in the day’s events, not least because of our own strong (Jack B.) Yeats connection. We played host to an esteemed guest curator from the National Gallery of Ireland, Dr. Marie Bourke. Dr. Bourke, gave an insightful and emotionally involving talk on our current exhibition Yeats & Son.
Dr. Bourke paid tribute to John Butler Yeats’ skills as a portraitist and as a draughtsman, as demonstrated by the pencil portraits on display in our exhibition. The audience was captivated as Dr. Bourke spoke candidly about John Butler Yeats and his relationship with his two sons, William, the poet, and Jack B., the painter. She described Jack B. Yeats as “the man at the back of the room”, an introverted, quietly intelligent type of man, a contrast to the extroverted, intense Poet personality of his older brother.
Dr. Bourke particularly emphasized the role of memory in Yeats paintings, this can be seen in the works on show. Leaving the Far Point (1946) depicts Yeats walking with his wife Cottie and his maternal uncle, George Pollexfen, along Rosses Point beach at the beginning of the nineteenth-century, a touching scene painted from the artists memory.
The long standing relationship between Sligo and the National Gallery was emphasized. Thomas McGreevy, Director of the National Gallery from 1950 to 1963 made a gift of Singing the Minstrel Boy (1923) to Nora Niland, the founder of the Niland Collection, in 1963, which is also on display as part of Yeats & Son, which runs until September 9th.