Western Worlds: a day at Yeats & the West

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WESTERN WORLDS

a Yeats & the West day

Friday 27th November 2015

Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway

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William Butler Yeats, poet, playwright, politician, and Nobel prize-winner for literature, always looked west. The Yeats & the West exhibition at NUI Galway, with rare books, art, music, drama, and film, discovers what the west meant to him, and what this means for us. As part of the Yeats & the West programme, the day-long symposium Western Worlds tells the story of the western cultural revolution that shaped modern Ireland. Featuring talks on W.B.Yeats’s poems, plays, artistic collaborations and love affairs, and featuring his co-conspirators Jack B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Padraic Pearse and Eva Gore Booth, it includes poetry readings and an exclusive interview with the artist John Behan about current exhibitions of Yeatsian-themed sculptures and drawings. Western Worlds tells a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are.

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Western Worlds: A Day at Yeats & the West

Bridge Seminar Room, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway

Friday 27th November 2015

10.45am Welcome & Kisses

Adrian Frazier  Yeats & Maud Gonne: The Meaning of Their Kisses

12pm   Poems

Brian Arkins    W.B.Yeats & G.M. Hopkins

Deirdre Ní Chonghaile  ‘Listening to this rude and beautiful poetry’: J.M. Synge as song collector in the Aran Islands

1pm       Lunch

2pm       Plays                                                                      

Barry Houlihan ‘Suffering Spirits and Remorseful Dead’: Remembrance and Re-enactments in the plays of W.B. Yeats

Ian Walsh The Painted Play: Jack B. Yeats and the Postdramatic Theatre

3pm   Revivals

Mary Harris   Realism, Idealism and the Gaelic Revival

Maureen O’Connor   Some Vague Utopia: Eva Gore-Booth’s The Death of Fionavar (1916)

4pm   Coffee

4.30  Arts

Adrian Paterson with Barry Houlihan  (curators of Yeats & the West) Yeats among the Arts: exhibition highlights tour

from 5pm in Special Collections

5.30pm   Poems

David Clare & Deirdre Clare   dramatic readings

6.30pm  Reception

7pm   Bulls

John Behan  The Bull of Sheriff Street in conversation

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Western Worlds: a Yeats & the West symposium

WESTERN WORLDS

a Yeats & the West symposium

Friday 27th November 2015

Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway

Wall Vinyl 2

William Butler Yeats, poet, playwright, politician, and Nobel prize-winner for literature, always looked west. The Yeats & the West exhibition at NUI Galway, with rare books, art, music, drama, and film, considers what the west meant to him, and what this means for us. As part of the Yeats & the West programme, the day-long symposium Western Worlds tells the story of the western cultural revolution that shaped modern Ireland. Featuring talks on W.B.Yeats’s poems, plays, artistic collaborations and love affairs, and featuring his co-conspirators Jack B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Padraic Pearse and Eva Gore Booth, it includes poetry readings and an exclusive interview with the artist John Behan about current exhibitions of Yeatsian-themed sculptures and drawings. Western Worlds tells a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are.

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Culture Night at Yeats & the West

Culture Night at Yeats & the West

Culture Night

Friday 18th September 5-9pm

Tours, talks, & more!

Free admission

Yeats & the West tells the story of the places and the people that made a western cultural revolution. Discover what the west meant to Yeats, and what this means to us.

Culture Night at Yeats & the West features extended opening hours until 9pm, free admission, and exclusive tours every hour on the hour at 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, and 8pm, by exhibition curators Adrian Paterson and Barry Houlihan.

It also features a new arrangement and rotation of items on display, and unique and personal access to material in special collections. Among many new selections specially on view for this week are:

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A new selection of first editions: Yeats’s first book, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems (1889), so admired by William Morris, and his book of symbolist stories set in Irish landscapes The Secret Rose (1897), illustrated by a spectacular Rosicrucian tree design in gilt and leather binding by Althea Gyles.

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An entirely new display of Cuala Press books, all first editions, from W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and Frank O’Connor, with illustrations by Elizabeth Rivers.

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Poems about the Easter Rising by Dermot O’Byrne – actually the pseudonym of English composer Arnold Bax, whose tone poems based on Yeats’s poetry can be heard in the audio-visual part of the exhibition.

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Collected Works of J.M. Synge edited by W.B. Yeats, and a deluxe edition of The Playboy of the Western World with colour illustrations by Sean Keating.

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A new selection of exquisitely handcoloured Broadsides by Jack B. Yeats, Seamus O’Sullivan, and others, and a early book of Jack B. Yeats containing his early children’s theatre designs and even a pirate treasure map!

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Also featuring as ever original artwork by Jack B. Yeats, Gerard Dillon, Fergus Bourke and Nicholas Feve. Manuscripts, rare books, music, video, and exclusive archival material from Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, the Abbey Theatre, and even the American west.

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In this decade of commemorations come and find out more about the man who shaped and commented on the whole revolutionary decade. Discover the collaborations and collisions that formed modern Ireland, and deepened our culture.

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All this at Yeats & the West. The exhibition runs until December.

 

 

 

 

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A family affair

Susan Yeats (1866-1949) and Elizabeth Corbett Yeats (1868-1940) (known by the family and others as ‘Lily’ and ‘Lolly’) are the unsung, or lesser sung heroes of the Yeats family. At Yeats and the West and its associated events, including a theatrical presentation on the afternoon Friday 11th September, they are most certainly sung.

As the Yeats sisters discovered, working with William Morris and his daughter May at Kelmscott House Hammersmith just down the road from the family home in London’s Bedford Park, was an oppressive but rewarding experience. The sisters gained training in languages and in arts and crafts. Lily became an expert embroiderer; the talented artist Lolly learnt enough at Morris’s Kelmscott Press to take charge of what would become the Cuala Press.

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Design by AE, embroidery by Dun Emer Guild. Image courtesy of St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea

In 1902 the sisters were founder members of the Dun Emer Guild  with Evelyn Gleeson. The organization took inspiration from medieval crafts, handwork, design and guild structures, but also from an emerging national and feminist spirit. This meant that western designs were paramount with trees and mythological creatures prominent, all the workers were women, and in this atmosphere Celtic ornament was very starkly made new. In 1907 the company dissolved on Gleeson’s departure and Cuala Industries was born.

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Works from Dun Emer and Cuala Industries with the sisters’  input on show at the exhibition include embroidered saints banners mostly designed in 1903  by Jack B. Yeats and his wife Cottie for the new St Brendan’s Cathedral at Loughrea, and executed at Dun Emer, a selection of which are on view at a small but excellent exhibition at St Brendan’s.

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Also featured in rotation are full print runs of glorious handcoloured Broadsides of poems and ballads in three series (1908-1915, 1935, and 1937), printed at Cuala and largely designed by Jack B. Yeats, but with other artists like Harry Kernoff, Victor Brown and Seamus O’Sullivan joining in later series.

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Perhaps pride of place is an exquisite selection of Cuala Press volumes. With their spare design aesthetic and W.B. Yeats as literary editor these books, proudly printed in Ireland with Irish materials and craft, set the tone for Irish Revival printing and Irish Literary Modernism. From 1903 all of Yeats’s poems were printed first in Cuala press volumes; other significant contributors include Frank O’Connor, Lady Gregory, A.E., Lord Dunsany, Ezra Pound, and Louis MacNeice.

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And, for one day only, on Friday 11th September NUI Galway hosts a one of performance about the Yeats sisters, featuring music and art from their lives.

Lily and Lolly: Yeats and his Sisters 

Written and performed by Sinead Murphy and Darina Gallagher

 Reception and Performance: Friday 11 September 2015 – 3.30-5.00pm – All Welcome!!

Venue: Room G006, Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway

 Lily and Lolly is a new work of theatre that looks at the life of poet W.B. Yeats through the eyes of his sisters Lily and Lolly Yeats. Set in their Dublin printing company Cuala Press, it explores the poetry and plays they publish for their brother Willie. Through storytelling, poetry and song, Lily and Lolly opens up the relationships within the Yeats family, with their brother the artist Jack B.Yeats and their father, the portrait artist John B. Yeats. Lilly and Lolly and their all-female printing company, find themselves at the forefront of the Irish Literary Revival surrounded by the characters so important in the life of W.B.Yeats including Maud Gonne, Lady Gregory, James Joyce, AE, Sean O’Casey and John Millington Synge.

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Yeats and the west launch

Monday 13th June saw the official opening of Yeats and the West: an exhibition of western worlds. Coinciding with the launch of the Galway International Arts festival, the exhibition was opened in style with the help of some very special guests, including the poet Moya Cannon.

Noting the impact of local landscape on the poet’s work, the Director of the Moore Institute, Professor Dan Carey, hosted the event, which took place in the midst of the exhibition space in the Hardiman Research Building. He gave warm thanks to staff at the James Hardiman library and the Moore Institute and especial thanks for the donation to the exhibition of two oil paintings, perhaps the highlights of Yeats and the West and only rarely seen: The Good Grey Morning by Jack B. Yeats, featuring a late self depiction of the artist looking out the window from his studio, and The Moon Worshippers by Gerard Dillon, with its astonishing primitivist Connemara landscape.

Prof. Daniel Carey, Ronnie O’Gorman, Sen. Fidelma Healy Eames, Sen. Susan O’Keeffe, and Dr. Adrian Paterson, at the launch of Yeats & the West at the Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway, 13 July 2015. The exhibition features many talks and special events throughout its run until December 2015 and has free admission.

Prof. Daniel Carey, Ronnie O’Gorman, Sen. Fidelma Healy Eames, Sen. Susan O’Keeffe, and Dr. Adrian Paterson, at the launch of Yeats & the West at the Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway, 13 July 2015. The exhibition features many talks and special events throughout its run until December 2015 and has free admission.

The President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, registered Yeats’s worldwide importance and local meaning as craftsman and folklorist. He argued that the exhibition was essentially about collaboration, creativity and community, and stressed the importance of all three of these elements to the Yeats family and to the university. ‘The revolution that happened here in the west’, he said, ‘shaped not only modern Ireland but the western world’. He singled out Jack Yeats’s 1900 Galway Sketch book, owned by the University, and newly on display for Yeats and the West, which features sketches of local figures and landscapes at Coole Park and Galway Races, as a fine example of the worldwide impact of local aesthetics.

Barry Houlihan, co-curator of the exhibition, pointed further west, to North America, highlighting the significance of this western world for Irish culture. He described Yeats’s own lecture tours, and the tours of the Abbey Theatre players, which finally took many of them to Hollywood. Yeats’s 1932 letter dropping his own play The Words Upon the Window Pane from the repertoire, as making less sense to American audiences unaccustomed to Jonathan Swift, expressed, he said, the ready compromise between aesthetic and commercial considerations necessary for a working theatre.

Abbey Theatre American tour participants including Lennox Robinson (l) and W.B.Yeats (r).

Abbey Theatre American tour participants including Lennox Robinson (l) and W.B.Yeats (r).

Dr Adrian Paterson, curator of the exhibition, articulated how local community collaborations could have worldwide implications. The west, he argued, ‘was the landscape of Yeats’s poetry and plays’. With its wellspring of songs, stories, language, artwork, drama, crafts, it was for Yeats the foundation of the Irish imagination. Moreover, ‘significant events of his life took place here; collaborations that shaped his work were forged here’. The August 1902 Killeeneen Feis in honour of ‘Raftery, Connaught poet’ not only brought together different community centred arts, poetry, plays, storytelling, singing and dancing, but Jack Yeats’s fine illustrations, reproduced in the exhibition, caught the presence of John Quinn, New York lawyer benefactor of modernism, and the man whose gift that week of a volume of Nietzsche to  W.B. Yeats changed the course of modern poetry.

 

Wall Vinyl 3CHe thanked the bountiful generosity of lenders to the exhibition of some fabulous materials: the Berg Collection, the Bodleian library, and in particular the National Library of Ireland for Yeats manuscripts, and St Brendan’s Cathedral Loughrea for its Dun Emer Saints banners (like St Brendan above) highlighting the craft and embroidery of the Yeats family. Local collaborations and places mattered not only to the Irish Revival, he suggested, but today. Kiltartan Musuem, Coole Park, and the landmarks along the Lady Gregory-Yeats trail, above all Thoor Ballylee, had importance then as now as giving rise to creativity. He welcomed in particular Senator Fidelma Healy Eames and members of the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, who were doing so much to preserve and promote the landscape and architecture of Yeats’s poetry, and a place that influenced so many of Yeats’s most telling poems. Citing Yeats’s ‘my glory was I had such friends’, he gave especial thanks to collaborators who are or have become friends: colleagues at the English department such as Prof. Adrian Frazier and Dr Rebecca Anne Barr; at the library, Marie Boran, Aisling Keane, and Niall McSweeney, photographers Deirdre Holmes and Nicholas Feve, the designer Mel Durkan from proviz.ie, John Conway of Bulabosca films who made the marvellous video, and in particular an exemplary co-curator in Barry Houlihan.

Senator Susan O'Keeffe, chair of Yeats2015, with Yeats and the West curator, Dr Adrian Paterson.

Senator Susan O’Keeffe, chair of Yeats2015, with Yeats and the West curator, Dr Adrian Paterson.

Senator Susan O’Keeffe, chair of Yeats2015, who had found time to be present notwithstanding her work at the banking inquiry, explained that key local events like the Yeats and the West exhibition were part of a larger chain, a worldwide series of creative and cultural events happening in honour of the poet’s 150th birthday, in places as far-flung as Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing; in Melbourne, Moscow, and Madrid; in Istanbul, Paris, Utrecht; in New York, Washington and Atlanta, and closer to home in London, Dublin, Sligo and in Galway. She gave thanks to the curators, Barry Houlihan and Adrian Paterson, and stressed the vital importance of education, and lively and informative shows like this one, in bringing Yeats to a new generation of poetry lovers.

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Our special guest the poet Moya Cannon then gave a fascinating talk and reading subtly elucidating the importance of place and family to artistic endeavour. The artist John Butler Yeats in marrying the sister of a schoolfriend, Susan Pollexfen, had given ‘tongue to the sea-cliffs’, but also kicked off a creative dynasty. The importance of creative women as part of this story, she suggested, should not be underestimated. Susan Yeats and her daughters Elizabeth and Lily, had founded an artistic coterie of major achievements. The Cuala Press, and associated textile industries, with the astonishing beauty and labour involved, were an example to W.B.’s art. She read Yeats’s poem ‘In the Seven Woods’, from their first volume together, as an example, remembering also it was a tribute to Lady Gregory, a master collaborator and friend to the poet. His brother Jack Yeats, in connecting with people, populating his landscapes, and making not only his paintings and sketches but with the help of the Cuala Press the remarkable series of Broadsides, a full set of which would be on display in rotation throughout the exhibition’s run, had brought high art into the real world. She read stanzas from ‘The Tower’ to show how closely the brothers were knitted into the stories, songs, and scenes of local landscape: ‘If I triumph, I must make men mad’. Finally she read her own poem ‘The Singing Horseman’, a tribute to Jack B. Yeats’s painting of the same name, which remembers that while symbolic horses might be W.B.Yeatsian and kin ‘to the white horse that carried Oisin off / Or to the black mare of Fand’, ‘this golden-headed rider is one of us’. And yet in an unmagical age the painting, as the work of the whole family, knows that song can give us voice, as when ‘pressed into black vinyl’ or at a party a song then

released our crumpled spirits,

transported us across skies and oceans

and our hands, our heads,

were golden, golden.

The poem is part of Moya Cannon’s forthcoming new collection from Carcanet, Keats Lives, which might, she noted, have equally been Yeats Lives.

John Cox, Librarian, closed the event and gave thanks to all present, reminding us that the James Hardiman Library’s fine collections for readers and scholars make up the backbone of the exhibition, such as the Lady Gregory Collection, the Arthur Shields Collection, the Colin Smythe Collection, the Thomas Kilroy Collection, and of course the theatre archives at NUI Galway including the Abbey Theatre Digital Archive, and that of the Lyric Theatre Belfast and the Druid Theatre.

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The exhibition, which features special events throughout its run, takes place at the Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway, and is open Mon – Sat 9-5 till December 2015, with free admission.

 

 

An exhibition of western worlds

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A major exhibition celebrating the western cultural revolutions of W.B.Yeats opens this June at NUI Galway. The Moore Institute and the Hardiman Library at NUI Galway presents Yeats & the West, an exhibition exploring Yeats’s life, work, and legacy, and his deep connections to the west.

Yeats & the West reflects W.B. Yeats’s attention to life, love, and landscape in Galway, Sligo, and beyond. The exhibition details the many artistic collaborations that centred on Coole Park and Thoor Ballylee between artists inspired by the western world, and goes as far as the American west tracking the fortunes of western artists.

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Yeats & the West follows the formation of the Abbey Theatre in Galway, and Yeats’s work with J.M. Synge, George Moore and Edward Martyn, using exclusive materials from NUI Galway’s Lady Gregory Collection, the Abbey Digital Archive, and the Lyric Theatre Belfast. It follows his foundation of Thoor Ballylee as a poetic symbol. It explores his obsession with local poet Antoine Ó Raifteirí, and highlights the gifted artists of Yeats’s own family, whose pioneering work is showcased in exquisite handprinted books and in embroidery from Loughrea’s St. Brendan’s Cathedral.

This interactive exhibition features original watercolour sketches and oils by W.B. Yeats’s brother, the celebrated artist Jack B. Yeats, works by Gerald Dillon and Harry Kernoff, priceless Cuala Press volumes and broadsides, a wealth of visual material from photographers from Fergus Bourke to Nicolas Fève, and rarely seen images and manuscripts from archive collections in NUI Galway and around the world. It follows Ireland’s dramatic political and cultural revolutions, and finds out how Hollywood and the American West began to answer back to these western dramas.

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Through rare books, original documents, and artworks, and using modern touchscreens, recorded sound, and exclusive film, visitors take a tour of Yeats’s commitment to history, tradition, and new art, all under western eyes. Talks and special events feature throughout the exhibition’s spectacular run from June to December 2015.

Visit Yeats & the West and rediscover western worlds and western revolutions. Click here for visiting details and here for upcoming events.

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