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Experts to reveal more about civic art collection

22 May 2019

Two special talks will take place this month focusing on a diverse and informative collection of art works currently on show at the Tower Museum.

The Collecting Art exhibition is running until June 30, featuring an eclectic mix of pieces from an array of emerging and established artists from across the world gifted to the museum or purchased over the years.

On Thursday evening, May 23rd, the Museum will host a panel discussion featuring some of the best known names on the local arts scene, chaired by Declan Sheehan and including artists Phillip Napier and Locky Morris. They will be taking a look back at the time of the Orchard Gallery and some of the innovative and unique projects curated by the Orchard in the 1980's, 1990's and 2000's, when the gallery was a renowned centre for contemporary Irish art.

Philip Napier and Locky Morris will discuss their many exhibition projects with the Orchard Gallery, including their projects focusing on Bloody Sunday featured both in gallery exhibitions and in distinctive offsite projects in the Bogside. The talk will offer some background on how artists have engaged with the visual culture of the city during the Troubles and in the years since.

On May 30th artist and curator Declan McGonagle will give a keynote lecture delving into the civic collection and considering the development of the Orchard Gallery and related issues around arts programing. ‘The City is the Gallery - The Orchard Gallery, A Civic Collection and the Issue of Public Value!’ will look at the initial steps in creating a Civic Collection and the responsibilities of publicly funded organisations and institutions. Declan has curated independent exhibitions in Ireland, the US and the UK and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. He is currently serving as the Minister of Arts nominee on the Board of Galway European Capital of Culture 2020, and is curator of Dublin Port's Art Engagement Programme.

Archivist with the museum Bernadette Walsh, said the talks would offer further insight into the value of the civic collection and issues around public art. “Here at the Tower we collect, record, conserve and curate art works with a view to making our collections available to the public,” she explained.

“Much of our art collection is retained in storage so this is a great opportunity to view and appreciate the pieces that usually remain behind the scenes. There are works from some notable artists and many representations of historical moments in time, so the collection will be of interest to both history and art lovers.

“The discussions will offer the chance to find out more about the origins of the Council collection and how art is actually collected and curated.”

The Council’s art collection could certainly be described as varied, dating back to the late 1970s when the City Council was putting together plans for a gallery and museum space for the city. The Orchard Gallery opened in Derry in 1978 and from its outset aimed to exhibit a range of emerging and established artists. Until its closure in 2003 the gallery maintained a high profile in the art world, and today the city is served by a number of ground breaking visual art galleries.

The Tower Museum itself opened in 1992 as a community facility offering a forum for the understanding of the diverse history that exists in our region and collecting art is part of that focus.

Both events will take place at 7pm and places are free, but should be booked in advance by calling 02871 372411.