The world’s first free open-air Yeats-themed gallery was opened by W.B. Yeats’s granddaughter, Caitríona Yeats, at the weekend.
Caitríona Yeats was also a collaborator in the first piece of art installed at the gallery, which will be on view to the public 24-hours a day, all year round.
The exhibition of five artworks will be permanently installed on the outside of various premises on Wine Street in the heart of Sligo town, on buildings intrinsically linked with the Yeats family.
Each artwork will be a collaboration between an established artist and an internationally-noted appreciator of Yeats.
They will base their work on a Yeats poem of their choice and produce a piece of art to reflect their interpretation of the poem.
The first piece was a collaboration between artist Jane Murtagh and Caitríona Yeats and was installed on Pollexfen House over the weekend. It is based on the poem ‘Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’.
Said Caitríona Yeats: “I am delighted to have been asked to be the first collaborator in this project which brings the work of my grandfather to the public in such an accessible manner.
“Pollexfen House is a fitting place to locate the work and for him to be remembered and celebrated. Jane was a pleasure to work with and I am delighted with the unique art piece she has produced from our discussions.”
The Pollexfen building on Wine Street was the home of Yeats’s grandparents and business owner Gerry McCanny has facilitated the artwork being located there.
The pieces, with frames designed by architect John Monaghan, will be securely fixed to the outside facade of five premises with protective glass and will be illuminated for night-time viewing.
The unveiling took place during a weekend of celebrations and free events in Sligo to mark Yeats Day, which takes place tomorrow (June 13).
The idea for the open-air gallery came from a conversation between local business owners on Wine Street – Suzy McCanny, Keville Burns and Tom Ford.
“With the strong connection between Yeats and Wine Street, we felt it would be an appropriate location to honour the legacy of Yeats in some way,” said Tom Ford.
“We had the idea that it might be the world’s first free permanent open-air art gallery and it would bring the poetry of Yeats to the public in a unique way,” Tom added.
A video will be produced detailing the development of each piece from the discussion phase between the ‘celebrity’ and artist, to the creation and completion of the final artwork.
“We felt that our first collaborator should have a strong connection to Yeats. We approached Caitríona through Yeats Day organiser Susan O’Keeffe and she was delighted to get involved, particularly as the first piece in the series was to be located on the Pollexfen building.”
The exhibition will tie in with the Yeats Trail running from the Yeats mural on Lord Edward Street to The Model on the Mall.
A free booklet will accompany the exhibition providing visitors with information on each artwork and highlighting Yeats’s strong historical connection to Wine Street.
The project is funded by Sligo Credit Union and the unveiling was attended by Sligo Credit Union Chairman Fergus McNabb and Noel Mooney, who was chairman of its 50 Years Committee.
Mr McNabb said: “Last year, Sligo Credit Union celebrated 50 years serving the community. In looking at how we would mark that milestone, we wanted to support a project that would add value to our town, have a lasting presence and be enjoyed by all. Sligo Credit Union are delighted to be part of this wonderful project.”
The project is also supported by Sligo Tidy Towns in association with Sligo County Council.