Visual Arts in Wexford
Cultural History, Founded by Vikings, Famous for Its Opera Festival.

County Wexford, Leinster Province,
Republic of Ireland.

Note: For an outline of Celtic culture
along with ancient artworks of the
Celts, see: Celtic Art. For details of
the earliest styles, which influenced
so many Irish metalworkers during
the renaissance of the early Christian
era, see: Hallstatt (c.800-450 BCE)
and La Tene (c.450-50 BCE).

Visual Arts in County Wexford

Lying south of County Wicklow on the south-east coast of Ireland in the province of Leinster, County Wexford has a population of 116,596 and is named after its biggest town, Wexford, which was founded by Vikings who named it Waesfjord (inlet of the mud-flats). The county contains numerous historic sites, castles, and abbeys, while the Irish Heritage National Park is also located in the area.

Famous Artists

Renowned painters born in County Wexford include: Francis Danby (Landscape painter); Robert Armstrong, (Abstract Oil Painter); Phoebe Donovan, (Printmaker, Figurative, Landscape Painter, Designer); Paul Funge, (Portraitist); Megan O'Beirne (fine art painter/photographer, unique Holocaust art) and contemporary steel sculptor Conor Fallon (1939-2007).

For a list of national sites of
cultural, historical, architectural
or artistic significance, see:
Architectural Monuments Ireland and
Archeological Monuments Ireland.


Art Galleries

Among Wexford's numerous art venues are: Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford Town (053-23764); Greenacres Art Gallery, Selskar (053-912-2975); Art Upstairs Gallery, Wexford Town (086-2434360); Cockleshell Arts Centre, Duncannon (051-389990); Ladyship Oils, Killurin (053-28397); Newtownbarry House Gallery, Bunclody (054-76383); Pigyard Gallery, Wexford Town (053-22019); The Norman Gallery, Enniscorthy (053-9255071); Visions Gallery and Giftware, Camolin (054-83851).

Visual Arts Program

The County has a long-established tradition of supporting Irish art. An important element in Wexford's arts program is the County Art Collection, whose growth (along with the county's Percent for Art scheme) is designed to develop public awareness and participation in the arts, and to support Irish artists through commissions and associated funding. In due course, as the numbers of acquired artworks increases, they can then be displayed for the benefit of the public to assist in the development of Wexford County as a centre of visual arts as well as music and opera. See also Artlinks.

Visual Arts Collection

Like other municipal art collections, Wexford's encompasses both Irish and international artists, and, whenever possible, endeavours to include high quality Irish painting and Irish sculpture from local artists. Acquisition of works is largely funded by the County Council, although it also includes joint purchases with the Arts Council, as well as donations and gifts from members of the public. At present the Collection is on permanent display at the County Hall in Wexford town. Plans are afoot to exhibit it to a wider audience, by staging lecture tours around the County Hall and by taking works to other venues such as libraries and community facilities throughout Wexford.

Wexford Artists Represented

The collection contains over 80 artworks including watercolours, oil painting, etchings, lens-based artworks, and sculpture. Watercolours - the largest group of pictures - were acquired during the initial build up period. Portraying scenic views of Wexford City and County, many are by local painters, like John Kehoe, David Daly, Eithne Ryan, Billy Colfer and Ruth Walsh. Wexford painters are also well represented in the oil painting category. They include: Kathleen Delaney (mixed media) and Helen Gaynor (Romantic landscapes). In addition, the collection includes photographs by Wexford lens-based artist Padraig Grant taken in Ethiopia and Sudan.

Irish Artists Represented

The Wexford art collection also includes works by painters from other counties in Ireland, as well as overseas. They include: Andy Warhol-type compositions by the Limerick artist, Charles Harper; realistic studies by the figurative and landscape painter Martin Gale, abstract works by Dublin painter, Eamon Coleman, a sombre print by Sophie Agahajanian, an etching by Scottish artist, Struan Hamilton, a colourful semi-abstract painting by Belfast artist, Brian Ferran, and an oil by John Shinnors, one of Ireland's top contemporary artists. Among the sculptures collected are a bronze by Belfast-born sculptor, Sandra Bell and a free-standing female figure by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie. Other notable Irish painters and sculptors represented include: Brian Ballard, Colin Davidson, Gillian Deeny, Bridget Flannery, Leo Higgins, Paddy Lennon, and Patrick Leonard.


Wexford Opera Festival

No mention of Wexford arts and culture would be complete without reference to the annual Wexford Opera Festival at Johnstown Castle and Gardens (May/June). One of Europe's premier operatic occasions, the festival typically includes a glittering array of musical talent and features three full-scale operas, together with concerts, recitals, talks, and cabaret.

• For more about Irish culture, see: Ireland Visual Arts.
• For more about the historical heritage of the province of Leinster, see: Homepage.
• For a list of the top living painters in Ireland, see: Best Irish Artists/Painters.
• For details of art museums in Ireland, see: Irish Art Galleries.

History of Irish Art
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