Exhibition explores attitudes to 1916 leaders

Christopher Banahan's portrait of Seán Mac Diarmada.

Christopher Banahan's portrait of Seán Mac Diarmada.

THE 1916 leaders have been demonised and canonised, praised for helping Ireland become independent, and blamed for the Northern Troubles - which began 50 years after their death. Their life and legacy is very much contested ground.

How people view Pearse, Connolly, Clarke, etc, depends very much on the political prejudices they carry with them, and this idea has inspired an exhibition, Saints or Sinners? by Kinvara based artist Christopher Banahan. The exhibition opens on Thursday March 24 in the KAVA Exhibition Space, the Court House, Kinvara.

"At the outbreak of the Easter rebellion," says Christopher, "the rebels were regarded by many law-abiding citizens as troublemakers who were destroying the capital. They were described in the news media of the time as ‘outlaws’, ‘usurpers’ and ‘idealistic quacks’. However with their subsequent martyrdom and the passage of time, they were transformed into icons, heroes, patriots, even ‘saints’."

Christopher's works feature deliberately idealised portraits of the seven signatories of the Proclamation, in charcoal, and sketched onto a background of tabloid news articles of the era.

The exhibition will be opened by Galway city arts officer, James Harrold. It runs until Tuesday March 29 from 12 noon to 6pm each day.

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