William Butler Yeats, poet, playwright, politician, and Nobel prize-winner for literature, always looked west. Through rare books, art, music, drama, and film, the Yeats and the West exhibition at NUI Galway discovers what the west meant to him, and what this might mean for us. As part of this exhibition of original materials that are unique to the West of Ireland, NUI Galway has added a recently acquired portrait of Lady Gregory painted by the artist Gerald Festus Kelly in 1912.
Lady Augusta Gregory was 60 at the time this portrait was painted for The Abbey Theatre, and established in her career as folklorist, translator, and playwright. She is depicted wearing mourning clothes for her late husband Sir William Gregory, not entirely in keeping with her energetic personality. The portrait is currently located in the Reading Room of the James Hardiman Research Building as part of the Yeats & The West collection.
Celebrating Yeats2015 the Yeats & the West programme continues with an exclusive tour of the exhibition by the curators and events include a talk about ‘Yeats and the act of dying’ by Professor Kevin Barry from the Moore Institute at NUI Galway, and a Yeats & the West closing event next January featuring talks and readings by scholars, artists, and writers.
Dr Adrian Paterson, lecturer in English and curator of the exhibition at NUI Galway, said: “I think people forget that Yeats was not just a poet, he was a cultural revolutionary. To put it differently you might say he was a collaborator, an entrepreneur, an artist and a man who made things happen. The west was the landscape of Yeats’s poetry. It was also a wellspring of songs, stories, folklore, artwork, drama and crafts. The exhibition takes a close look at his poetry. But it also highlights his collaborations, and the songs and plays and artwork and politics of those around him that shaped modern Ireland. It’s a western revolution.”