The Gerard Byrne Studio Launches Virtual Tours

Photo by Leon Farrell of Photocal Ireland.

David Prendeville

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced cultural spaces the world over to adapt how they engage with their audiences. The Gerard Byrne Studio in Ranelagh is no different. Their answer has been to transition to a more online existence. The pandemic has changed the way we experience culture and art, and the studio is taking the opportunity to challenge the boundaries of the traditional gallery space, and the traditional gallery experience.

The decision to create high-end virtual tours of the exhibition space came as a result of the sudden closure of the gallery twice this year, when lockdown restrictions interrupted Byrne’s two major solo physical exhibitions of 2020.

Having just launched their second virtual gallery tour of Byrne’s most recent exhibition ‘Pause for Harmony. Art in Lockdown’, they have created a new online gallery experience. Gerard Byrne Studio is the first commercial art gallery in Ireland to offer an online gallery ‘visit’, showcasing the artworks in an elegant gallery setting. Differentiated from existing online platforms, which essentially represent “story reading” of an artwork’s details, the 360 interactive Virtual Tours replicate, as closely as possible, the art gallery experience online. The technology is intuitive, easy to use and fun to navigate. The Studio is now accessible 24/7 to the entire global audience.

With a range of interactive features, the virtual tours bring the audience close to the artwork in ways that perhaps a physical exhibition cannot. The visitor can view the collections at their own pace, from the comfort of their own homes. This is a new kind of gallery experience, one that has the benefit of being accessible to anyone across the globe at any time.

The two 360 degree tours portray the scope and versatility of Byrne’s ‘plein air’ (outdoor) painting. This virtual gallery experience presents an entirely new opportunity; the chance to visit two ongoing exhibitions from the same artist at the same time.

There are two very different collections. ‘Botanical Fusion’ suggests a more abstract style, in large scale works of dark, moody, jungle-like foliage. ‘Pause for Harmony. Art in Lockdown’ displays the bright colour and slanting perspectives so associated with late 19th century Impressionism.

Evident in both exhibitions, however, is Byrne’s inherent skill; his ability to transform what he sees out in the world into art, to capture a scene in paint. Byrne reveals to us the world in its essence, rather than just in its visual reality. He paints not simply to imitate shape and colour, but to find and extract the spirit of a place, object, or person.
For Byrne, his role as an artist is “To open people’s eyes to their surroundings, to touch a nerve in them somehow, to capture the spirit of a time, or a moment, or a place. Mostly, I hope that my paintings evoke some sort of emotional reaction in people.”

Through the virtual tours, Byrne’s captivating work can transport the viewer far away from grey winter days and the monotony of lockdown – wander amongst the intoxicatingly vibrant foliage of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, or stroll down the sunny streets of Dublin city in spring.

‘Botanical Fusion’ comprises Byrne’s Singaporean collection from his time as Artist-in-Residence in the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 2019, alongside botanical works from the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland and London’s Kew Gardens. ‘Pause for Harmony. Art in Lockdown’ is a collection of paintings and sketches Byrne created during the first lockdown of spring 2020.

The virtual gallery tours include a number of innovative features, allowing the viewer to experience Byrne’s work in its full, even online. These include a magnifying glass feature and detail images of each painting, in order to capture Bryne’s expressive brushwork. There is also an innovative ‘on the wall’ feature, which gives a sense of scale of each artwork. The virtual tours include commentary from guest speakers and from the artist himself. Virtual visitors also have an opportunity to enquire and purchase artwork online.

Virtual tours can be viewed below:

‘PAUSE FOR HARMONY. Art in Lockdown’ exhibition Virtual Tour

‘BOTANICAL FUSION. Singapore to Dublin’ exhibition Virtual Tour