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Hennessy Reveals Four Artists Selected for Art Fund for IMMA Collection 2018

Thursday May 10th 2018, Hennessy and IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) revealed the names of the four contemporary artists whose works have been purchased by the Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection 2018. Barbara Knezevic, Susan MacWilliam, Mary McIntyre and Helen O’Leary were joined by Elaine Cullen of Hennessy Ireland, IMMA’s Christina Kennedy, Senior Curator, Head of Collections and invited curator Hugh Mulholland, Senior Curator at The MAC, Belfast, as the works went on display. The Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection exhibition is free to view and runs from May 10th to September 16th.
 
Each of the artists selected have well-established practices, making work of quality and rigor which has received considerable critical acknowledgment and are not yet represented in the IMMA National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. From thought-provoking sculptures to a haunting video to a photographic installation, each of the chosen works engages with contemporary culture, reflecting the artist’s looking at and thinking about life today.

Barbara Knezevic’s sculptural arrangement ‘The Last Thing On Earth’ (2016) is framed by the proposition: What if this is the last thing, the final material to be pulled out of the ground, the final piece of stuff that has not already been purposed by humans. The ‘thing’ referred to here is a multi-sided marble object at the centre of the work, around which a constellation of other objects including a photographic backdrop, tripods and archaeological tools, mirrors, and an iPad are arranged.
 
‘Pull Down’ (2016) by Susan MacWilliam is a black and white silent video which uses reconstruction and detailed editing to explore forms of portraiture and the mechanics of looking and recording.  ‘Pull Down’ continues the artist’s exploration of the phenomena of spiritualism and conjures up the dark spaces of the séance room. It intimately observes the repeated collapsing and slumping of a girl through the viewing lens of a camera and draws attention to the role of the camera as observer of the spirit medium within historical psychical research studies (the study of paranormal, especially parapsychological, phenomena).  
 
Mary McIntyre’s ‘The Path to the Distribution Point of Light’ (2015) seeks to explore the audience’s relationship with photography. McIntyre has constructed a low platform, in the form of a vaguely disquieting shallow ramp that spills out from the corner of the gallery space. It invites greater spatial interaction with the work, which, calls into question the possibility of ‘passive’ viewing. The stage-like structure also introduces a sense of heightened theatricality, something that has always been an important aspect of McIntyre’s practice, as you are invited to walk across it to view the photograph on the wall. Each step taken towards the photographic work therefore becomes self-conscious, as your footfall is acoustically registered upon a wooden incline.
 
Helen O’Leary’s work ‘Refusal’ (2014) uses oil and wood while ‘The Problem with Adjectives’ (2017) uses egg tempera and oil emulsion on constructed wood. O’Leary’s work has been described as an un-writeable novel, and she describes the frame-like structures she produces as paintings that can stand by themselves, that have their own architecture.  Her paintings hold a history of their past lives, with panels fashioned from pieces of previous paintings, cloth and materials at hand in the studio. The materials become woven together to create non-representational three-dimensional pieces that hold a story beyond what is immediately visible. She has described her process as “knitting” with wood, “cobbling together paintings out of the ruin of their own making.”
 
Hennessy Ireland formed a unique partnership with IMMA in 2016 to help fund the purchase of important works by Irish and Ireland based artists for the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. Funding cuts during the recession resulted in the museum lacking resources to purchase works meaning the practices of younger and mid-career artists from 2011 onwards were glaringly absent from the IMMA Collection story. Works are sought which show excellence and innovation within contemporary art developments, and which represent a signal moment of achievement with the artist’s practice. They must also have been made within the previous five years.
 
Speaking about the announcement of this year’s artists Elaine Cullen, Market Development Manager for Moet Hennessy Ireland said: “Hennessy is long dedicated to discovering and nurturing gifted Irish talent, be it in literature and poetry through the Hennessy Literary Awards, contemporary music and culture at the Hennessy Lost Fridays immersive multi-media events, and through the Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA to purchase important works by Irish and Irish based artists for the IMMA National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. It is a privilege for us to enable the acquisition of these deserving pieces and welcome Barbara, Susan, Mary, and Helen to the Hennessy family.”
 
In looking back at the 12 works purchased over the last three years, IMMA Senior Curator, Head of Collections, Christina Kennedy, remarked; “As 12 works that stand as a distinct grouping within the IMMA National Collection, the Hennessy Art Fund to date reflects something that is on the pulse of what is observed by artists today, often ahead of other indicators, and which is contributing to thinking about the human condition in a technological age.”
 
Artists are nominated by a selection panel, including IMMA Head of Collections, Christina Kennedy and invited curators, Senior Curator at The MAC Belfast, Hugh Mulholland, and Director of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin, Clíodhna Shaffrey. Final recommendations are approved by the IMMA Collection Acquisitions Committee, in line with IMMA’s Collection policy. The 2016 Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection saw works by artists Kevin Atherton, David Beattie, Rhona Byrne and Dennis McNulty selected. Artist chosen for the 2017 collection were Ciarán Murphy, Maireád McClean, Mark Garry and Yuri Pattison.
 
IMMA welcomed close to half a million visitors in 2017, and was recognised as the second most popular free visitor attraction in Ireland in 2016. In addition to the Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection, other highlights of the Hennessy cultural calendar include and Hennessy Lost Fridays with RHA and the Hennessy Literary Awards.

For further information visit www.imma.ie and www.hennessy.com, log onto the Hennessy Cognac Ireland’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/HennessyCognacIreland, or follow Hennessy on Twitter @HennessyIRL and Instagram @HennessyIRL.
 
For further media information contact Conway Communications 01 661 9728
Kerryann Conway: kerryann@conwaycommunications.ie / 086 821 5246
Ellen King: ellen@conwaycommunications.ie / 087 201 3724

About the Artists

Barbara Knezevic
Barbara Knezevic lives and works in Dublin, Ireland. She attended the Sydney College of the Arts where she received a Bachelor of Visual Arts and completed her Masters in Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Recent exhibitions include ‘The Last Thing on Earth’, a solo exhibition at the MAC, Belfast (2016), ‘Exquisite tempo sector’, a solo exhibition at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios (2017), ‘City Agents’, curated by Jussi Koitela, at EKKM, Estonia (2016), and ‘With Leftover Agencies’, Gallery Augusta, Helsinki (2016).  

Susan MacWilliam 
Born in Belfast, Susan MacWilliam represented Northern Ireland at the 53rd Venice Biennale, 2009, with her solo exhibition, REMOTE VIEWING. Her first film, The Last Person (1998) was shortlisted for the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s Glen Dimplex Artists Award in 1999. She was artist in residence on the PS1 International Studio Program, New York in 1999/00, and has had residencies in Ireland, France, Slovenia, Trinidad, the USA and Canada. MacWilliam has exhibited extensively internationally, and has had solo exhibitions in Ireland, the UK, Europe, the USA and Canada. She is represented by CONNERSMITH, Washington, DC. 

Mary McIntyre
Mary McIntyre was born in Northern Ireland where she lives and works. She graduated Master of Fine Art at the University of Ulster in 1990, where she is now a Reader in Fine Art. She has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally. Solo exhibitions include: An Interior Landscape, Visual, Carlow, (2014); A Contemporary Sublime, The MAC, Belfast (2013); and Silent, Empry, Waiting for the Day, Belfast exposed Gallery (2011). Group exhibitions include: The Untold Want, Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin (2015); Helsinki Photography Biennial, Helsinki (2014); and Imagining Islands: Artist and Escape, The Courtauld Institute, London (2013).

Helen O’Leary
Helen O’ Leary was born in Wexford. She attended NCAD and earned a BFA and MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been honoured with the la Prix de Rome, American Academy in Rome, John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; two Pollock-Krasner awards; the Joan Mitchell Award for painting and sculpture; and several grants from the Arts Council of Ireland. Exhibitions include the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York; The MAC Belfast, Ireland; National Gallery of Art, Limerick; and the Glasgow Museum of Art, Scotland.

Guest Panellists

Hugh Mulholland, Senior Curator at The MAC, Belfast is this year’s invited curator to the selection panel. He was previously Director, the third space gallery, Belfast (2006-2012); Director of Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast (1997-2006); and founding Director of Context Gallery Derry, (now CCA) (1992-1997). 

Clíodhna Shaffrey is director of Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin.  Previous to this she has worked as independent curator and was Visual Arts Advisor to the Arts Council Ireland from 2011 – 2014. Shaffrey sat on this year’s selection panel as a member of the IMMA Acquisitions Committee. 

About Hennessy Art Fund for IMMA Collection

Hennessy Ireland formed a unique partnership with IMMA in 2016 to help fund the purchase of important works by Irish and Ireland based artists for the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. Funding cuts during the recession resulted in the museum lacking resources to purchase works meaning the practices of younger and mid-career artists from 2011 onwards were glaringly absent from the IMMA Collection story. Works are sought which show excellence and innovation within contemporary art developments, and which represent a signal moment of achievement with the artist’s practice. They must also have been made within the previous five years.

Read more about the 2017 selection here>

Read more about the 2016 selection here>

About Hennessy

 Immersed in Irish heritage, Hennessy has evolved to become one of Ireland’s most well-known and cherished brands. Founded in Cognac, France in 1765 by Corkonian Richard Hennessy, the brand’s distinctly Irish heritage has stood the test of time and today draws on over 250 years of knowledge, talent, expertise and passion. It is a brand that is intrinsically linked to the Irish way of life and is complemented by Hennessy’s commitment to Ireland’s unique sociability and skill in creating unforgettable experiences. Hennessy’s Savoir-Faire is evident from its unique heritage, tradition and exceptional craftsmanship which create Hennessy Cognac. Though the Hennessy brand has evolved throughout the years, the true art form of its traditions and methods remains timeless.

About IMMA

IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) is Ireland’s leading national institution of Contemporary and Modern art. Based in its home at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, 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, IMMA ensures that this collection is accessible to visitors to IMMA and beyond, through exhibitions, collaborations, loans, touring partnerships and digital programmes.
 
Visited by over 489,000 people in 2017, 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 eight IMMA visitors experiences visual art for the first time through their IMMA visit. The museum is driven to inspire a curiosity and appreciation of Irish contemporary art amongst their audience and the wider Irish public.

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