This Friday, RTÉ’s The Works will be filming at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin and would like to hear from members of the public about which is their favourite painting in RTÉ’s Masterpiece campaign and why. RTÉ is inviting people to come along to the gallery and talk on camera about their best-loved piece of the short-listed ten. From 10am to 5pm on Friday, there will be a recording point set up – all the public need to do is come to the gallery reception on the day.
After a five-week long campaign, Ireland’s Favourite Painting culminates next Thursday when the winner will be announced on The Works by President Michael D. Higgins.
The National Gallery of Ireland, which houses seven of the paintings on the shortlist, has reported increased footfall, with visitors to the gallery in April 2012 up by approximately 20,000 on the same period 2011. According to Valerie Keogh, Press & Communications Officer, National Gallery of Ireland, ‘The increase can be attributed to Easter week activities. In particular we noted an increase in visitors and comments following the RTÉ broadcast on 17 April of ‘Masterpiece: Ireland’s Favourite Painting’. In our Gallery Shop, sale of merchandise relating to all the shortlist paintings have doubled.’
The Hugh Lane Gallery also reports an increase in visitors coming in especially to see the Scully and Clarke pieces. ‘The attendants have noticed people are coming in with the list of 10 paintings and ticking them off, as they see them,’ said Dr. Margarita Cappock, Head of Collections, Hugh Lane Gallery. ‘We recently had someone ask for a chair to see the Harry Clarke piece and they spent over two and a half hours standing on the chair peering at it!’
Deputy Director at The Model in Sligo, Emer McGarry said: “Following the nomination of Communicating with Prisoners as one of Ireland’s favourite paintings, there was a huge increase in the number of people coming to The Model, requesting to see the work. The painting was due to be hung on May 10th as part of the exhibition, Yeats & Son, but we were delighted to put it on show in The Niland Gallery, earlier than planned, in order to meet demand and there are still lots of people coming in to see the work as part of the show.’
This Thursday, on RTÉ’s The Works, the final two celebrity champions will make their case for their favourite paintings. Pat Shortt will talk about A Connemara Village by Paul Henry and Mary O’Rourke will talk about Johannes Vermeer’s, Lady Writing a Letter.
Pat says: I had two older brothers who were painters and my dad painted as well so I’d always go into a gallery if I was in a town. I’m not an anorak but I appreciate and like it. I live in Co Limerick and look across at the Clare Hills and you can see the light looking biblical though the clouds. He’s done that with the village. It’s amazing use of colour….almost kind of punk-y….it’s quite radical and dark. It brings you right in. The image is simple but dynamic. If you’ve ever travelled, and Irish people are great for travelling, when you get home you do see those colours and shapes, when you’re away it does evoke a sense of Ireland and an emotional tie to the land and culture. It’s what Ireland is about.
Mary says: ‘I think Vermeer is wonderful. There is a story with every painting. In this painting I believe the lady is writing to her lover….and she is very intent in her writing. She can’t get it down quick enough. And I think she has a really faithful maid-servant. The two of them are together in this escapade. Maybe I’m Mills and Boon, I don’t know! But that’s what I think of it. It is an escapade of love. I have no doubt about that. It’s quite perfect.’
Tomorrow, on RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with PK, the radio partner for the Masterpiece campaign, Pat Kenny talks to Adrian Le Haravil of the National Gallery about Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ and Barbara Dawson of the Hugh Lane Gallery about Sean Scully’s Wall of Light Orange Yellow.
Voting closes at 2pm on Monday 21 May so those voting by post have just one day left to send a postcard nominating their favourite painting to RTÉ’s Freepost address: Ireland’s Favourite Painting, RTÉ, Freepost, Dublin 4. Or, they can go to www.rte.ie/masterpiece and make their selection.