The Politics of Memory (curated by Shane Cullen), Crawford Art Gallery, November 20, 2010 – Mid-2011

Too late for the All My Loving Exhibition at the Crawford Art Gallery. It was being taken down as I arrived today. Consoled myself with a walk through the Shane Cullen curated The Politics of Memory.

There is some irony now in the fact that the paragraph displayed boldly on one of the walls on which the exhibition is hung (though there are one or two sculpture pieces) is credited to former Taoiseach Brian Cowen.

“Commemoration, of course, is a selective act. We choose what to commemorate…We decide what events are worth remembering…..Others are quietly forgotten.” Mr Cowan was referring to public commemoration; we can all have our private ones. One wonders though how his own public efforts will be commemorated!

One Irish figure commemorated in this exhibition is James Connolly. His 1960 bust, by Seamus Murphy, is prominently placed and unmissable. Must say though that I much prefer the Michael Collins one in Fitzgerald Park, and not because of the politics!
James Connolly and Muriel McSwiney

I remember reading on Twitter recently how those that bring about the revolution rarely benefit from the subsequent changes. The tweet referred to Egypt a few weeks back and I was reminded of it when I came to view the fallen body of The Revolutionary by Sir William Orpen.

And another sir also caught my attention. This was Sir John Lavery who entitled his fine portrait: The Widow, Mrs Terence McSwiney. No sign of her own name which was Muriel. Times have changed. Don’t think that would happen today. Hillary Clinton, for one, would give him an earful and rightly so.

Times change. And still the politics plays its games. But not forever. Memory, even of the brave and the just, fades.