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IMMA 1000 fund raises €120,000 in year one & Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs awards match funding to acquisitions fund to create an overall fund of €170,000

IMMA 1000 fund raises €120,000 in year one, announces four new artist residencies and three new purchases, all by female artists, to the National Collection.

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys awards match funding to acquisitions fund to create an overall IMMA 1000 fund of €170,000

Christina Kennedy (Head of Collections, IMMA) IMMA Director Sarah Glennie, Artists Sarah Pierce and Aideen Barry with John Cunningham at the launch of IMMA 1000. Photography by Ruth Medjber


At a launch in Dublin tonight, IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) announced a number of key purchases, all by female artists, to the IMMA Collection. Also announced were four new IMMA 1000 residencies, each of which carries a bursary for artists alongside free accommodation and studio space at IMMA.

The first three acquired works are The weakening eye of day by Isabel Nolan, A Reflection on Light by Grace Weir and Meaning of Greatness by Sarah Pierce. Nolan and Weir’s works were both first shown in IMMA as part of exhibitions in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

IMMA’s Collection is the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, however funding cuts over the last decade have severely restricted the Museums ability to purchase new works. Two new initiatives, IMMA 1000 and The Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection, are now allowing for new acquisitions for the first time in many years.

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys TD said:

“Philanthropy can act as a very positive complement to the core funding provided by my Department for our Cultural Institutions.  I would like to commend IMMA for undertaking this proactive initiative which is helping to harness investment in its collections from private individuals and the private sector. In recognition of the philanthropic nature of this fund, and the great work done by IMMA in raising these funds from the private sector to date, I am pleased to provide match funding for the acquisitions fund. As recognised in the Creative Ireland Programme, our National Collections are invaluable cultural resources for our country, and I am delighted to support this initiative which will see a number of new works joining the National Collection in 2017.”

IMMA Director Sarah Glennie said; “IMMA 1000 was created in reaction to a concern for the future of Irish art, triggered by the devastating cuts in arts funding from 2008 onwards. Our goal was to create a fund that would allow us to achieve our mission to support Irish artists within this altered landscape. The fund has been incredibly successful in year one, thanks in no small part to its founder John Cunningham, our exclusive Corporate Partner Goodbody and all of the visionary individuals who stepped forward to support Irish Art.

“We are delighted to announce that we have reached our ambitious target of raising €120,000 in year one. That’s €120,000 that we have been able to use to directly fund individual artists for their work in three major ways - throughout the 2016/2017 programme, through a series of new paid residencies announced tonight for 2017 and three new acquisitions for the IMMA Collection.

We are particularly pleased to have been awarded match funding for the IMMA 1000 acquisitions fund by Minister Humphreys which will allow us to really maximise these individual donations and purchase a number of key works for the National Collection. We are announcing the first three of these acquisitions today and I am very happy to see such strong works by female artists joining the Collection, all of whom have exhibited in IMMA in the past. All three works represent significant moments in these artists’ practices and it is vital that IMMA Is in a position to acquire landmark works such as these for the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary art. Collections create an invaluable legacy for future generations. IMMA collects in the present and these purchases will help to ensure that the richness of work being produced by visual artists in Ireland now contributes to the understanding and enjoyment of Irish culture in the future.”

“Museums can support artists in many different ways and I am delighted that through the extraordinary success of IMMA 1000, and the additional support by the Department, we have been able to support so many Irish artists works across our programmes and through our residency; providing much needed space and support for artists to think, reflect and develop new work.”

The IMMA 1000 campaign was launched in April 2016 with a founding fund of €60,000 and has reached its target to double that base in year 1 through individual donations. Year two of the fund was launched last night, with a target of €80,000. The overarching goal is to raise €250,000 in three years (2016-2019), all to be used to directly support artists working in Ireland. IMMA 1000 will do this in three key ways;

1) Supporting artists to live and work in Ireland through bursaries and the IMMA residency programme.
2) Supporting artists’ income through commissions and exhibitions.
3) Supporting artists’ work through the purchasing of work for the IMMA Collection.

IMMA has been supported in this initiative by Goodbody as the exclusive corporate founding partner for IMMA 1000. As Ireland’s longest established stockbroking firm, Goodbody understands the importance of creating a legacy today for future generations. That’s why it has made a firm commitment to contribute significant funds to this important initiative over three years.

“Goodbody has high regard for IMMA and the work it does. We believe artists deserve a secure place in Irish society,” said Roy Barrett, Goodbody Managing Director. “Goodbody wants to help to build and sustain the cultural institutions that make art viable in Ireland. IMMA 1000 is a project of real ambition that we are honoured to support.”

Artist Sarah Pierce, whose 2006 work Meaning of Greatness has been acquired by IMMA through he fund had this to say; “I am honoured to have my work enter IMMA's collection, in particular Meaning of Greatness (2006) which is a major work about the artist, art students and cultural legacies that I made and first showed in Dublin, the city where I live. As an artist who uses archives in my work, the relationship between a work of art and a national collection is not lost on me. Institutions face real financial challenges when it comes to protecting messages and moments that might otherwise be forgotten. “

Speaking at the launch tonight was artist Aideen Barry who was on residence in an IMMA live-in studio for 6 months in 2016 with her young family. Barry said of that time “This residency was a gift to me at a time when my practice needed sustenance. The programme and the IMMA staff offered me unwavering support and concentrated time to address new ideas and conceptual saplings pushing up in my practice. The broader residency programme at IMMA afforded me the opportunity to contextualise my practice in the wider contemporary world whilst aligning my personal philosophies with changes, critique and new ways of seeing; emerging through conversations and debate which fermented out of the cultural production of the IMMA programme.”

IMMA 1000 was conceived on behalf of IMMA by businessman John Cunningham, Director CheckRisk, who responded to a talk by the IMMA Director to a group of business leaders in 2014. He was struck by the critical difficulties, outlined by Sarah, facing artists in Ireland following the economic crisis and committed to personally raising funds for the future.

At the launch John Cunningham commented: “It has been so gratifying to see the enthusiasm for this fund, and to meet others who have a personal passion for Irish art and a concern for Ireland’s ability to continue to support Irish artists.  Artists are crucial in forming and communicating our valuable cultural identity, a vital asset to Irish business abroad and a vital need for Irish people at home. We have to do something tangible to create the future we want for our country, and I want a future with Irish art, something we can achieve together through IMMA 1000.”

Find out more about IMMA 1000, including ways to donate, please visit www.imma.ie

-ENDS –

For more information and images please contact monica.cullinane@imma.ie or press@imma.ie 01 612 9922.
Photos will be issued at 7.30pm this evening by photographer Ruth Medjber.

Additional Information

Why Now?
Substantial cuts in arts funding since 2008 have had a devastating effect on supports available directly to contemporary artists. Arts organisations such as IMMA have also seen cuts of close to 50% in their state funding resulting in fewer acquisitions for public collections, fewer commissions of new work and reduced artist fees.

Overall these combined cuts create an overwhelming reduction in the funding that institutions such as IMMA can use to directly support artists. The commercial art market in Ireland also faces considerable challenges. As organisations slowly start to rebuild after years of successive cuts it is essential that IMMA is able to actively support Irish artists so that Ireland will remain a viable place for them to live and work into the future. If not, the effect of their loss will be felt for generations to come.

How is the fund being spent?
The IMMA 1000 fund has raised €120,000 across year 1 (April 2016 – April 2017). These funds are being directed in three ways:
1) Three new acquisitions for the National collection; The weakening eye of day, 2014 by Isabel Nolan, A Reflection on Light, 2015 by Grace Weir and Meaning of Greatness, 2006 by Sarah Pierce (details on each work below).

2) Four new residencies at IMMA with associated bursaries for artists. There will be one year-long bursary, with a stipend of €10,000 and three 6-month long residencies to the value of €6,000 each, which will include bursaries and associated travel and production expenses. The IMMA 1000 residencies will each commence in 2017 and will be filled through a combination of open call and invitation-based processes. Information will be published on the IMMA website and social media, and sent directly to the Artist Residency Programme emailing list which can be joined via the IMMA website http://www.imma.ie/en/nav_26.htm

3) Ongoing support of Irish artists to make and present new work throughout the IMMA programme. In 2016 IMMA 1000 funds enabled work by Irish artists in the major collaborative project A Fair Land, presented with Grizedale Arts, Irish artists in the residency programme, including Aideen Barry, and commissions by Irish artists Duncan Campbell and Jaki Irvine, both of which have since been acquired for the National Collection with additional support from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. In 2017 IMMA 1000 funds have supported IMMA’s work with Irish artists Alan Butler, Eoghan Ryan, David Beattie and Vivienne Dick.

About IMMA
IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) is Ireland’s national institution of contemporary and modern art. The third most visited free attraction in Ireland (2015) IMMA is celebrated for its vibrant and dynamic exhibition and education programmes.

IMMA is the home of the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. Now numbering over 3,500 works, we ensure that this collection is accessible to visitors to IMMA and beyond, through exhibitions, collaborations, loans, touring partnerships and digital programmes. Visited by over 580,000 people in 2016, IMMA is one of Ireland’s leading cultural institutions and a key source of creativity and inspiration for visitors of all walks of life. One out of every ten IMMA visitors experiences visual art for the first time through their IMMA visit and it is hugely important to us to create an enjoyable and engaging experience of contemporary art for everyone. We are driven to inspire a curiosity and appreciation of Irish contemporary art amongst our audience and the wider Irish public.

Above all else we are committed to supporting artists’ work. Together with artists and other partners we work to support the development of contemporary art in Ireland. As Ireland’s contemporary visual artists continue to strengthen their work is increasingly recognised on the international stage as well as making an invaluable contribution to contemporary Irish society. Artists are a key voice in any contemporary society and IMMA is committed to supporting Irish artists’ ability to live and work in Ireland.

Related Bios and information about the works

John Cunningham
John Cunningham has been in business for over 30 years holding senior positions in Irish Permanent, Friends First, Ross Bank, Zurich Bank and Alexander Mann Solutions. He is currently a Director of CheckRisk and is consulting to a wide range of organisations. He is a graduate of the Marketing Institute, Smurfit Graduate School and Insead. He is Chair of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Director of The Irish Youth Foundation. He is Chair of the judging panel for the CSR awards for Chambers Ireland. John has interests in travel and collecting art.

Isabel Nolan
A Dublin based artist Isabel Nolan’s work encompasses sculpture, textiles, paintings and works on paper and writing. Recent solo exhibitions include 'The weakened eye of day' at Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver and Mercer Union, Toronto, both in 2016, which originated at IMMA (2014), Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (2016), Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, (2014); Goethe Institut, Dublin (2012); The Model, Sligo (2011-12), and Museé d’art moderne de Saint-Etienne (2012). Other solo shows include: Kerlin Gallery, Dublin (2007; 2009; 2015); Project Arts Centre, Dublin (2005): the Studio, Glasgow International (2006); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, (2007) and Artspace, New Zealand (2008). Nolan represented Ireland at the 2005 Venice Biennale in a group exhibition. Her work has also featured in Launchpad Art, London; LIAF biennial (Lofoten International Art Festival), Norway; Artspace, Sydney; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Beijing Art Museum, The Yugoslav Biennial for Young Artists, Serbia-Montenegro; Glasgow International; and the Mediation Biennale, Poznan, Poland.

Forthcoming exhibitions include a solo show at The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, and at Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, (both 2017) and at the San Antonio Museum of Art, (2018). Nolan is represented by Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and Krinzinger Gallery, Vienna.

Isabel Nolan, The weakening eye of day, 2014
A steel squiggle, almost unruly, but not quite, stitched into a skin of grey wool, unfolds in large loops across a room. It is larger than a human but not overwhelming. The form unwinds slowly, breaking and bridging the space, at one end turning back on itself where it meets the floor. The material world we inhabit, the given and the constructed, is far more various and much stranger than any single or even gathering of artworks ever can be. Much of my work rides a tension between the intimacy of an up-close material encounter and allusions to vast abstractions such as infinity or extended geological time frames. ‘The weakening eye of day’ steals its title from a poem wherein the phrase is used to describe the sun in winter. The sculpture is strong and soft, quietly, insistently leading both the body and the eye. It works well as metaphor but it isn’t merely a signifier for something like the dissipating energy of a dying sun, or the path of single particle, it has its own mute narrative and peculiarity, making a place for itself within the everyday weirdness of the world.

Sarah Pierce
Since 2003, Sarah Pierce has used the term The Metropolitan Complex to describe her art. Despite its institutional resonance, this title does not signify an organisation. Instead, it demonstrates Pierce’s broad understanding of cultural work and processes of research and presentation that highlight a continual renegotiation of the terms for making art. Her focus is on archival materials and reproductions, student work and test pieces, gesture and repetitive address. Pierce uses a range of media, often making work with other artists, actors, teachers and students in collaborations that draw upon historical relationships to the political: the potential for dissent and self-determination, slippages between individual work and institution, and the proximity of past artworks. Recent solo exhibitions include: No Title at CCA Derry (upcoming 2017); Pathos of Distance at the National Gallery of Ireland (2016); Lost Illusions at SBC Gallery Montreal, Mercer Union Toronto, and Walter Phillips Gallery Banff (2014); and The Artist Talks The Showroom London (2013). Selected group exhibitions include: Rua Red Tallaght (2017); CCS Bard Hessel Museum Annandale-on-Hudson NY (2016); P! New York (2016); Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven (2016); IMMA Dublin (2016); NCAD Dublin (2012); Mattress Factory (2011); K21+20 Düsseldorf (2011); MUMOK Vienna (2009); MuHKA Antwerp (2007); and recent biennales, including Eva+ International Limerick (2016, 2014); Lyon (2011); Sinop (2009); and the 51stVenice Biennale commissioned by Sarah Glennie for the Irish pavilion (2005).

Sarah Pierce, Meaning of Greatness, 2006
Meaning of Greatness draws on Pierce’s own biography as an artist, her history and ‘progress’, along with art historical and counter-cultural references from feminism to modernism. The project is an ongoing interplay with notions of being an artist, friendship, and the personal and political legacies that form an art practice. In beginning work on the piece in 2006, Sarah Pierce took up Linda Nochlin’s famous question, Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists, by taking pause, before petitioning a list female names to add to the canon, and considered instead, Why is it so difficult to retire the canon altogether? Built on ideas of legacy and revolution, Pierce has remade Eva Hesse’s Rope Piece (1971) which she places in the context of a huge curtain work, loosely based on Richard Serra’s Circuit II. These works are placed in the context of student protests that took place in the US and former Yugoslavia in the 1970s. Pierce has described the work as part of a legacy, “deeply committed to a radical turn away from the cult of the artist and individual achievements towards the signs and symbols of a total system of art making.”

Grace Weir
Grace Weir represented Ireland at the 49th International Venice Biennale and has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. She is currently Artist-in-Residence in the School Of Physics, Trinity College Dublin. As part of the IMMA Collection her film work Dust Defying Gravity, 2003, has been shown since its purchase in 2004 in many group exhibitions and beyond IMMA in venues across the country.

Working primarily in the moving image, Grace Weir makes a critical appraisal of film through film-making, in a practice that fuses documentation with highly authored situations. Weir probes the nature of a fixed identity and these questions are underpinned by the theories under her scrutiny, whether it is relativity, intentionality, film theory, the duality of light or the philosophy of time and history. She is interested in issues that are not unspecified because something is missing but because of their nature and content. Weir is interested in the slippages between the conceptual and experiential in different fields of enquiry. She examines how the imperfect world of direct experience plays a role in our understanding of theoretical concepts. Researching facts not as self-evident objects in the world but as processes, Weir takes a transdisciplinary approach in her research. The resulting work is wide ranging, from structural cinematic works to 'footnote' videos, web projects and installations. 

Grace Weir, A Reflection on Light, 2015
A meditation on time and the nature of light ‘A reflection on light’ consists of a seemingly single long take that weaves together events from different histories and disciplines that orbit a painting whose subject is light by the Irish Cubist artist Mainie Jellett. “The whole film is shaped by a series of long tracking shots that take us slowly around three buildings: the interior of an apartment owned by the artist Mainie Jellett, a gallery space at IMMA, and the department of physics at Trinity College. The tracking shots may move us forward in a linear fashion but Weir demonstrates how we weave other dimensions of time and space into our daily consciousness. Perhaps what the film demonstrates is just how light, time and space are transformed as they pass through another medium: the lens of the camera. Grace Weir, has linked the ‘I’ of the maker to the eye of the camera as she rotates a work through time and space. Her film elaborates something…which is the perpetual motion of human consciousness: an ever-evolving perception and interpretation of the world around us.” Francis McKee.


Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
Tel: +353-1-6129900, Email:
info@imma.ie