Ulster Museum’s Art Collections Revitalised by New Blood Exhibition

A painting of Belfast poet Medbh McGuckian from 1989 by renowned artist Peter Edwards has gone on display in the Ulster Museum alongside work from Northern Irish artists, some of which have never been exhibited before

Edwards’ recently gifted painting to National Museums NI, features in a new exhibition New Blood: Recent Art Acquisitions 2014–18.

Seventeen works are on display in the exhibition, some of which have been gifted or bequeathed while others have been purchased by National Museums NI or are on long term loan.  Works have been received from artists, the public and through support from the Friends of the Ulster Museum.

Paintings on display in the Ulster Museum for the first time include Connemara Woman Knitting by County Armagh artist Charles Lamb and Glengormley-born Basil Blackshaw’s Gypsy which have both been gifted while LS Lowry’s City Scene is on long term loan.  The exhibition also includes work by other Northern Irish artists including Hannah Starkey, Willie Doherty and Joseph Wilson.

Other highlights in the New Blood exhibition include Italian artist Cristofano Allori’s Landscape with a Grove of Trees and Jacob van Ruisdael’s The Cornfield which was accepted in lieu of tax from the Alfred Beit Foundation.  Van Ruisdael’s seventeenth century Dutch masterpiece was made famous after being stolen but recovered three times from the same stately home in Wicklow.

Work by Ben Nicholson and Frank Auerbach have also been accepted in lieu of tax and allocated to National Museums NI by the government, under a scheme which only applies to art of outstanding importance.

Senior Curator of Art at National Museums NI, Anne Stewart, said: “Over the past four years the Ulster Museum art collections have been greatly enriched by gift, bequest, loan and purchase.

“It is always a cause for celebration when new works of art enter a collection and it is vitally important for art galleries and museums to continue to collect.

“New acquisitions keep our collections alive, strengthening and revitalising them, and encourage us to look at familiar work with fresh eyes. We are always interested in exploring new opportunities to develop the art collection.”

Commenting on his donation, Peter Edwards said “As home to two great poet portraits by Edward McGuire of Seamus Heaney and John Montague, I felt it was an honour to have my painting of Michael Longley acquired by the Ulster Museum, after it was first exhibited in the Arts Council Gallery, Belfast in 1990.”

Peter added – “I am also delighted that my painting of another great Irish poet Medbh McGuckian, which has been shown in numerous venues around the world, including the National Portrait Gallery will find its permanent home in one of the world’s museums.”

Admission to the Ulster Museum and the New Blood: Recent Art Acquisitions 2014–18 exhibition is free.