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The Hunter Gatherer: A New Publication on the McClelland Collection
A major new publication celebrating more than 50 years of collecting by George and Maura McClelland will be launched at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Thursday 18 November 2004 at 6.00pm. The Hunter Gatherer, produced by IMMA and kindly sponsored by Christie’s, documents the history of the McClelland Collection, its links with the McClelland Galleries in Belfast and George McClelland’s personal experience of collecting. The collection, generously given on long-term loan to IMMA in 1999, comprises over 400 artworks and includes such prominent Irish artists as Gerard Dillon, Sean Keating, FE McWilliam, Tony O’Malley, William Scott, Louis le Brocquy and Jack B Yeats.
The launch of The Hunter Gatherer coincides with an exhibition, the fourth in a series drawn from the McClelland Collection, focusing on the work of artists active in Northern Ireland during the middle of the 20th-century. Northern Irish Artists from the McClelland Collection comprises some 38 works by five artists - Gerard Dillon, Daniel O’Neill, FE McWilliam, Colin Middleton and William Scott. Each of the artists chosen came to maturity just before and during the second world war and all had to face the difficulties of making a living in the immediate aftermath of war, at a time of reconstruction and rationing. This exhibition celebrates the dominant strength of the McClelland Collection, its fine assemblage of paintings and sculptures by artists working in Northern Ireland during this period.
A native of Omagh, Co Tyrone, George McClelland bought his first drawing, which he still owns, at the age of 12. He and his wife Maura settled in Belfast where in 1965 they opened an antique and art gallery in May Street. In 1972 they re-organised their gallery and set up McClelland Galleries International on the Lisburn Road. The McClelland Galleries showed a wide variety of art, including Islamic and African art, Russian icons and Eskimo sculpture, as well as contemporary Irish art. Artists from Northern Ireland were especially encouraged and George McClelland became the agent and friend to many of them. Artists at that time where very dependent on the limited number of private galleries which provided them with exhibition opportunities and financial support in an otherwise difficult cultural environment. The McClellands moved to Dublin in 1975 following the loss of their Lisburn Road gallery during the continued political unrest and retired to the Isle of Man in 1986. They now divide their time between the Isle of Man and Ireland.
Commenting on the significance of the publication Catherine Marshall, Head of Collections, IMMA, said “The roles of the collector and the gallerist in facilitating art practice should never be overlooked. They operate on many levels – encouraging and promoting artists, collecting their work, sometimes commissioning new work and above all befriending them. This publication throws light on both those activities and on the personal choices of one collector who was a gallerist and dealer at a particularly interesting time in the history of Irish Art”.
The Hunter Gatherer is available from the Museum’s bookshop (price €25.00).
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