By Maria Daly and Claire O’Brien
The second of four installments of Shane Cullen’s now infamous art work depicting messages which were smuggled out of prison by Republican activists during the H-Block protests in Northern Ireland is due to be exhibited in the gallery in March.
‘Fragmens sur les Institutions Republicaines IV’ will be part of the next programme in the Luan Gallery which will open in early March and will also include Engaged, a group show of work of Abbey Road Studio Artists; and A Very Grand Canal, a mixed media show under an Offaly County Council initiative.
It was decided this week, by the board of management of Athlone Art and Heritage which runs the Luan Gallery, that Shane Cullen’s H-Block work would not be taken down, despite a motion made to Athlone Town Council by Fine Gael’s Mark Cooney.
In a statement released after the meeting earlier this week the board said that it acknowledges the range of views recently expressed and is satisfied that the current programme titled Borrowed Memories including the item ‘Fragmens sur le Institutions Républicaines IV’ is within the strategy adopted for the Luan Gallery.
“The principles of artistic integrity and expression are fundamental to this strategy. Luan Gallery has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the 2,000 plus visitors to the gallery since it opened its doors on November 29, 2012.
“The board reaffirms its fullest confidence in the current management and curatorial arrangements in relation to the Luan Gallery. It would not be the intention of the board to direct the removal of any artwork from a public space which would deny visitors to the gallery the opportunity for respectful, critical and reasoned enquiry and debate.
“It is business as usual at Luan Gallery as it plans a busy and colourful season of programming and educational initiatives in the months ahead.”
Speaking after the meeting councillor and board member Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran said that politicians should not get involved in art.
He said his own involvement in the board of the gallery has given him a greater appreciation of the arts.
“We want the gallery to be a success story,” he said. “We do not want controversy over the gallery or councillors or people wanting work taken down.”
“Councillors who have a difficulty with a piece of art should contact the board in the first instance, rather than tabling motions which draw publicity,” he said.
The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 12-5pm.