George Wallace prints exhibited for the first time in Ireland at new exhibition

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George Wallace prints exhibited for the first time in Ireland at new exhibition
George Wallace (1920–2009), Clay Pits, 1955. Soft ground etching © Estate of George Wallace and CARCC, 2020. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland NGI.2016.39.

DUBLIN.- The National Gallery of Ireland presents George Wallace: Reflections on Life. On view for the first time in Ireland, this selection of over 60 artworks is drawn from the large collection presented to the Gallery by the Wallace family in 2016. The exhibition marks 100 years since the artist’s birth.

Born in Dublin but based in Canada for most of his life, George Wallace (1920–2009) was a significant artist and influential educator who created powerful prints and sculptures throughout his career. He was a deep thinker who published insightful writings on art.

In September 2015, Kit Wallace, the artist’s son, visited the National Gallery of Ireland bringing a sample selection of George Wallace’s prints with him. The following year, the Gallery accepted the Wallace family’s generous gift of some 250 etchings, woodcuts, monoprints and drawings by George Wallace.

Born in Sandycove in 1920, George Wallace studied theology and philosophy at Trinity College Dublin in the early 1940s. He lived in the UK for several years, teaching at Falmouth School of Art before emigrating to Canada, where he continued his teaching career to become Professor of Fine Art at McMaster University, Ontario. For most of his adult life, Wallace specialised in printmaking and sculpture.

The exhibition features etchings, monotypes, woodcuts and drawings. These works on paper, drawn from a prolific career of over 50 years, include early abstract etchings and preparatory drawings inspired by the clay pits at St Austell in Cornwall, and a series of monoprint ‘heads’, inspired by photos of newly promoted business executives featured in Globe & Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) in the 1980s.

At times humorous, and always insightful, the work of George Wallace is both personal and universal. Through powerful imagery the artist comments on everything from the boredom of suburban life to human vulnerability and ageing.

Anne Hodge, curator of the exhibition, added: “George Wallace‘s skilfully made etchings, monoprints and drypoints reflect his philosophical outlook, wry sense of humour and changing attitudes to life. His comments on Hogarth could easily describe his own work : ‘He thought of his prints and paintings as mirrors in which the people of the time might see themselves reflected … in their sometimes grim, sometimes humorous surfaces we may perhaps still find something of ourselves reflected back to us.’”

George Wallace: Reflections on Life is on view until 13 December 2020. For those who cannot attend the Gallery in person, visit for virtual tours of the collection including exhibitions and iconic spaces such as the Shaw Room and the Grand Gallery.

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