New exhibition coming to the Hunt Museum connects us to most important era in Irish art

  • The Artefacts Project - Lorcan Walshe ( 9th Century Bell)
  • Lorcan Walshe Studio - The Artefacts Project

The Hunt Museum is bringing The Artefacts Project to Limerick from 21st July to 11th September, giving visitors the chance to witness familiar objects from pre-colonial Ireland in a different light.

The works in Lorcan Walshe’s The Artefacts Project was totally inspired by indigenous craft and early Irish religious treasures. Croziers, Missals, Bells and Shrines are transformed in this unique exhibition of paintings and drawings.

15 years after its debut at the National Museum of Ireland, The Artefacts Project is being revived and partially reworked following an increased awareness of the significance of Walshe’s work. His engagement with artefacts of the pre-colonial past in his search for artistic and cultural roots has been likened to the approach taken by Frida Kahlo in her revival of the pre-colonial.

Celtic craftsmanship in visual arts spread to all corners of medieval Christendom, but the traditions were subsumed into Christianity and Colonisation. Through The Artefacts Project, Lorcan Walshe investigates and interrogates the art of our past and in the act of translation, transforms the objects from one artistic form to another, creating beautiful contemporary art.

Lorcan Walshe explains, “It was a highly expressive period and what came out of the monasteries was truly mesmerising. While traditional Irish music survived colonisation, unfortunately, visual traditions were lost due to the dissolution of monasteries. Art in Italy and Spain is still evidently connected to its past but not in Ireland. So I decided to work from the artefacts to make something modern while connected directly with our indigenous culture. Many of the objects that inspired the project were augmented or refurbished centuries after they were initially created. Similarly, I have augmented some of my works years after their creation, following in their medieval creators footsteps.”

Jill Cousins, Director at The Hunt Museum, said “The Hunt Museum has fine examples of many of the objects that have inspired Lorcan’s work. We hope that a re-airing of The Artefacts Project will spark a new appreciation of the incredible craftsmanship of Ireland’s indigenous culture. Irish craftspeople produced some of the finest carved crosiers, missals and bronze handbells. Lorcan’s way of seeing and translating takes us into the richness, texture, and subtle colours that make ‘walk-past’ museum objects come alive. The Artefacts Project surprises and challenges as Walshe makes us question what we are seeing and things we think we know - a crucifixion space is replaced by a woman, a shrine is shaped to be St Patrick’s tooth or the Bell of Clonmacnoise appears to ring.”

In the spirit of the past being always present, the Hunt Museum has placed its four Irish Bronze Handbells at the heart of the exhibition and enhanced how visitors experience them by using the sense of hearing. The Bells will tell the hour with the sounds of Limerick played through the sound formed by each bell. Visitors will also be able to play in and hear back their own voices creating new soundscapes to compliment the visual feast.

A number of the paintings and drawings in the exhibition will be for sale.

The Artefacts Project is running at the Hunt Museum from 21st July to 11th September.

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