Port Life Exhibition

Tall Ship on the Liffey by artist Dympna O’Halloran. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography.

Port Perspectives, an exhibition of artworks by Community Drawing Clubs and City Schools in Dublin, was launched by Lord Mayor of Dublin Mícheál Mac Donncha at the Hugh Lane Gallery on July 4th.

The exhibition was supported by Dublin Port Company, as part of its ongoing Port Perspectives arts commissioning series.
As part of the project, a number of drawing clubs were set up in community groups from the Ringsend Irishtown Community Centre; St Andrew’s Resource Centre, Pearse Street; Seán O’Casey Community Centre East Wall; and East Wall Youth Centre. As well as the drawing clubs, ten city schools also participated in this project.

In all, more than 30 gifted amateur artists, ranging from 11 to almost 80 years old, saw their artwork displayed in the Dublin City Gallery Hugh Lane, one of Ireland’s principle galleries. The exhibiting artists included many well-known Ringsend and Irishtown names such as Betts and Whelan. The theme of the exhibition was Port Life. The sketches, watercolours, pastels and collages included both contemporary images of Dublin Port and its environs and historical reflections of what it was like in years gone by, as seen or imagined by the artists who drew their inspiration from the environment around the docks, the Dodder and the Liffey, and their own family histories.

Earlier this year, each Drawing Club visited the gallery’s exhibition of the works of acclaimed Belgian artist Eugeen Van Mieghem in search of inspiration. Van Mieghem grew up close to the Port of Antwerp, and left a captivating visual record of port life there at the turn of the 20th century. His work captures the lives of ordinary people as they went about their lives and explores themes of migration, globalisation, and the working port community. All themes that resonate with Dublin Port and the docklands communities.

Dick Nugent viewing his art work hung in Dublin City Gallery.Picture by Conor McCabe Photography.

The exhibition was curated by Declan McGonagle, Curator of Port Perspectives Engagement Programme. It continues the Hugh Lane’s collaboration with the Port Perspectives initiative, which is designed to promote Dublin Port’s increasing support for the arts. In recent years a series of commissioned art projects have been commissioned to tell the story of Dublin Port and to help renew the historical link between the port and the city.
Eamonn O’Reilly, Dublin Port Company Chief Executive, said: “For decades, Dublin Port touched almost every family living in the vicinity of the north and south quays. Now they have brought those memories back to life through drawing and painting.

Mairead Cullen – Scenes from Dublin Port. Picture  by Conor McCabe Photography.

“Dublin has always been well known as a port city, but up to now we’ve had no pictorial representation of that. This is the start of that process. This has been a very special project. Not only are we bringing the arts into the port communities, but we are bringing their works created to the Dublin City Gallery – The Hugh Lane. It is amazing to have this exhibition in such a prestigious gallery.”

By Jennifer Reddin