Portable Histories, an exhibition developed through the continued partnership between Art Alongside and IMMA
’s National Programme, opened to the public at Wexford Arts Centre
. Art Alongside is an artist residency that aims to provide a dynamic experience of the visual arts to children and adults in Co Wexford. Pupils and parents from six primary schools worked with artists Helen Robbins and Mary Clare O’Brien on the project. After viewing a selection of works from the IMMA Collection the pupils were encouraged to draw on their experiences and respond creatively to them. In Portable Histories a selection of the children’s work is exhibited alongside works by Helen Robbins, Mary Claire O’Brien and works from the IMMA Collection, promoting a level of esteem between the professional artist and the amateur.
The exhibition features work from the IMMA Collection by Edward Allington, Oliver Comerford, Colin Harrison, Caroline McCarthy and Nick Miller, and focuses on the themes of history and memory and our readings of them. Key to the exhibition is British artist Colin Harrison’s Portable History of the World, 1974, a suitcase shaped wooden box which can be opened as if it where a cabinet. Within the box a grid-like arrangement of small artefacts reveals a private world filled with cryptic clues and references sourced from the artist’s own memory.
Other works in the exhibition include Caroline McCarthy’s, The Luncheon, 2002, which on first glance appears to be a traditional still-life, however, on closer inspection, reveals itself to be photographic documentation of a sculpture made of coloured toilet paper. Commenting on the historical and traditional notions of art, the work simultaneously makes witty observations about the nature of consumerism and representation. Nick Miller’s, South Africa Memory Series, no.1, 1991, is part of a series of works resulting from a visit to his parents' former homeland in 1991. The series is concerned with his understanding and perception of encounters with human relationships of family, race, politics, economics and responsibility. In a statement on these works from 1994 Miller said “While travelling I felt my mind and eyes to be like a video recorder, with extra functions of smell, touch, thought and emotion….On returning to Ireland, I tried to retrieve images like organic 'video-grabs' from my memory bank……They naturally came to an end when I found myself starting to invent memories for art's sake".
IMMA’s National Programme is designed to create access opportunities to the visual arts in a variety of situations and locations in Ireland. Using the Collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art and exhibitions generated by the Museum, the National Programme facilitates the creation of exhibitions and other projects for display in a range of locations around the country. The National Programme establishes the Museum as inclusive, accessible and national, de-centralising the Collection, and making it available to communities in their own localities, on their own terms, in venues with which the audience is comfortable and familiar.