Fairfield University's Bellarmine Museum of Art to open Kells to Clonmacnoise: Medieval Irish Art in Context April 18



Image: ChaliceFairfield University's Bellarmine Museum of Art will open "Kells to Clonmacnoise: Medieval Irish Art in Context," a new exhibition, Monday, April 18, with an opening reception in the Museum from 5-7 p.m. to which the public is invited. Admission to the Museum, which is located on the lower level of Bellarmine Hall, is free. The exhibition will continue until Tuesday, May 24. Throughout April and May, there will be free talks and films, which are open to the public. Each event will highlight a different aspect of the exhibition. Additionally, the Bellarmine will host a Family Fun Day on Saturday, May 14 from 12 noon to 5 p.m. "Kells to Clonmacnoise" is an Arts & Minds presentation.

Marice Rose, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the of art history program is co-curator of the exhibition with Jill Deupi, Ph.D., director of the Bellarmine Museum. According to Rose, the "Kells" exhibition is an important one as it draws attention to some of the lesser-known and extremely important aspects of Irish culture: "Discussions of Irish culture often revolve around music, dance, and literature, with little attention placed on the visual arts. Medieval Irish metalwork and manuscripts, however, were unparalleled in Europe in their intricacy and creativity. This semester I am teaching my course on 'Celtic and Early Irish Art' and this exhibition provides a rare opportunity to view the dynamic work of this period."

The exhibition will highlight five reproductions that evidence a fascinating period of Irish history and demonstrate Irish artists' ability to absorb artistic ideas from other cultures including Viking, Scandinavian, Italian and Egyptian, while keeping their own Celtic sensibility.

On loan for the Museum exhibition from the University's DiMenna-Nyselius Library's Special Collections is a facsimile of the Book of Kells, a 9th-century illuminated gospel manuscript. In addition, the exhibition includes four high-quality metal electrotype replicas of the national treasures of Ireland, lent to the Bellarmine Museum for only two years by the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters: The Ardagh Chalice (early medieval period), The Crozier of the Abbots of Clonmacnoise (circa 1100), the Cross of Cong (12th century) and the Shrine of St. Lachtin's Arm (1118-1121). All the replicas, which are of extremely high quality, are approximately 100 years old. The original objects today are all in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and the original Book of Kells is on display at Trinity College, Dublin.

Rose points out: "As objects, the replicas are an important evidence for the history of museum collections, reflecting a time when access to art through travel or even photographic reproductions was rare. At Fairfield, the exhibition gives visitors an opportunity to closely see the objects as a whole in a way that one cannot in photographs. Since the objects share many decorative motifs with the Book of Kells, it is also valuable to see all five objects of Ireland's 'Golden Age' of art together and in close proximity to one another, which a visitor to Ireland cannot do."

Following is a list of events relating to "Kells to Clonmacnoise: Medieval Irish Art in Context." The Museum is open Sept. through June, Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, visit museum@fairfield.edu or call (203) 254-4046.

Wednesday, April 20
Bellarmine Museum of Art, 3:30-4:30 p.m. - Lecture and Screening - "The Creative Process of Manuscript Illumination," Helen Rush, Sacred Art Coordinator for St. Edmund's at Enders Island, Conn.
DiMenna-Nyselius Library, Multimedia Room, 7 p.m. - Screening: "The Secret of Kells," Introduction by Marice Rose, Ph.D.

April 19-May 13, Bellarmine Museum of Art, 12 noon
Screenings: "In Search of Ancient Ireland" - 3-part series, Produced by Thirteen, WNET, New York
Heroes (60 minutes) - Tuesday, April 19
Saints (60 Minutes) - Friday, April 29
Warlords (60 minutes) - Friday, May 6
Heroes (60 minutes) - Tuesday, May 9
Saints (60 minutes) - Friday, May 13
Warlords (60 minutes) - Tuesday, May 17

Wednesday, April 27, Bellarmine Museum of Art, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
Meditz Gallery Talk - "Cú Chulainn - An Introduction to Medieval Irish Literature" - Robert Epstein, Ph.D., associate professor of English

Tuesday, May 3, Bellarmine Museum of Art, 12 noon
Meditz Gallery Talk - "Kells to Clonmacnoise: Medieval Art in Context"
Marice Rose, Ph.D., assistant professor of art history

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 30, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 259