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Arts Council Collection showcase

For Culture Night 2021, the Arts Council will continue its proud tradition of showcasing a selection of works recently added to its extensive Visual Art Collection. The Arts Council Collection established in 1962 and comprising over 1,250 works of modern and contemporary Irish art.

The works on show from the Collection showcase the Arts Councils ongoing commitment to purchasing excellent and ambitious works of art which reflect the excellent standard of contemporary Irish visual arts practice and which both engage with and represent Ireland today.

As this year it will not be possible to welcome audiences to share these works in person at the Arts Council’s buildings in Dublin as we usually would, we have invited a few artists whose artwork has recently been acquired for the Collection give some insight into their works and practice.

For Culture Night 2021 we will celebrate the Arts Council Collection’s continuing history of purchasing ambitious work that engages with and reflects contemporary Irish society by highlighting works by artists Orla Barry, Cecilia Danell, Mandy O’Neill, Rajinder Singh, which have been added to the Collection in the past year.

Here, Mandy O’Neill tells us more about her featured artwork, her practice and what it means to have her work included as part of the Arts Council Collection

Explore this and more from the Arts Council Collection: Showcasing the Collection

Diane at Larkin Community College 2018 is part of a body of work entitled Champions Avenue that emerged from a two-year artist’s residency at Larkin Community College, Dublin 1.

The school is situated in the heart of Dublin’s inner city and is attended by a diverse student population of over 400 pupils. LCC is a DEIS school (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), part of a government Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. The residency (supported by Young People, Children and Education grants from the Arts Council) was part of a wider long-term study of school and education, that posed questions about equality of opportunity and the support systems in place to nurture children and young people. 

Diane was one of the sixth year pupils at the school and had a particularly strong and enigmatic presence. Aidan Dunne (Irish Times, Aug 2018), describes Diane as having ‘an unmistakable attitude’ of meeting ‘the viewers gaze with cool assurance and, looking to art history, something of the bearing of a renaissance prince’. This image was winner of the Zurich Portrait Prize 2018 at the National Gallery of Ireland.
— Mandy O’Neill

Since 1962, the Arts Council has been buying art from working artists. The Collection that evolved tells the story of modern and contemporary Irish visual art in a unique and fascinating way. Today the Collection continues to grow and its more than 1,250 paintings, sculptures and other works are on display in public spaces all over Ireland for people to experience and enjoy first hand. You can find out more on the Arts Council Collection website

Image details from left to right:

Image 1. Mandy O’Neill – Diane at Larkin Community College from the series Champions Avenue, 2018, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper, 76 x 101cm Collection of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon

Image 2. Cecilia Danell, – The Octopus Salt Lick, 2019, Oil and acrylics on canvas, 120 x 120 cm, Collection of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon

Image 3. Orla Barry – Shearling Felt (Form is Destroyed) 2011. Raw Zwartbles Shearling Wool, Hand shorn, washed, carded and felted by the artist from her own wool. Approx. 120 x 80cm, Collection of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon

Image 4. Rajinder Singh – Point at a passing migrant bird with a raised locked arm and an open palm, 2020, Scavenged wood, wooden clamps jesomite, vinyl tape, 120 x 120cm, Collection of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon



While the Arts Council itself is currently closed to visitors works from the Collection can be seen throughout the country as part of exhibitions and on long term display in public buildings such as hospitals, universities and schools.

Details of exhibitions including work from the Arts Council currently open to the public can be found below and please visit our website to learn more about the Arts Council Collection and to view the works online.


The Narrow Gate of the Here-and-Now IMMA: 30 Years of the Global Contemporary, Irish Museum of Modern Art – until July 2022.


Sculptors at Work – F. E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio, Banbridge. – until 25th September 2021

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