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Táin Tapestries donated to IMMA

A special reception to celebrate the donation to the Irish Museum of Modern Art of the only complete set of Louis le Brocquy’s Táin Tapestries to be held by an Irish public institution takes place at IMMA at 6.00pm on Thursday 18 July 2002. The Táin Tapestries, which must rank among the best-known artworks ever created in this country, have very generously been donated by Dublin businessman Brian Timmons under the Heritage Donations Act. They will remain on show at IMMA until 26 January 2003.

The tapestries are based on le Brocquy’s inspired illustrations for the 1969 translation by poet Thomas Kinsella of the pre-Christian Irish epic An Táin Bó Cuailnge, which recounted the legendary battle fought by queen Medb and the men of Connaught against Cúchulainn, over the brown bull of Cooley. In creating the illustrations le Brocquy was mindful that “any descriptive precision in the depiction of Medb, Cúchulainn or a first century charioteer would disturb their imaginative reality.” To capture the necessary energy without distracting detail le Brocquy developed his now-famous “blot” technique. This provided the perfect solution to the artist search for “a non-figurative figuration”.

Following the success of the publication, le Brocquy made designs for a set of tapestries using some of the original images. In this he was returning to a fruitful field of collaboration dating back to the late 1940s and his work with the well-known firm of weavers, Tabard Frères et Soeurs in Aubusson, France

Twenty images from the publication were chosen to highlight the most crucial moments in the story and translated by le Brocquy into cartoons which the weaver, or lissier, works from. The first translation of the 1969 cartoons into tapestries was begun in 1998 and completed in 2000 at Atelier René Duche, Meillier Ouvrier de France, Aubusson. Although limited to two colours, the tapestries encompass an extraordinary range of nuance and subtlety, brought about by the careful blending of cotton and wool threads and the mixture of bleached, unbleached and natural white fibres, contrasted by black and grey ones. This, and the textured cutting of threads, resulted in a subtle “marbled” effect, a technique mastered by only a few weavers at Aubusson. The tapestries are commissioned in limited editions of nine, the artist reserving the right to two further weavings (artist’s proofs) of each design.

A Work-in-Focus leaflet, with text by Catherine Marshall, accompanies the exhibition (price €3.00).
Admission to the exhibition is free.
Opening hours: Tue - Sat 10.00am - 5.30pm
Sun, Bank Holidays 12 noon - 5.30pm
Mondays: Closed
For further information and colour and black and white images please contact Monica Cullinane at Tel : +353 1 612 9900, Fax : +353 1 612 9999 email

10 July 2002


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