Sunday 19 November 2017

Donation to museum a PR stunt, says artist

Ailish O'Hora

Ailish O'Hora

A ROW erupted last night after Bank of Ireland agreed to donate a small part of its art collection to the State, ahead of a much bigger auction of more valuable works.

Artist Robert Ballagh accused the bank of pulling a "PR stunt" to divert attention from the auction on November 24 at Adam's Auctioneers.

The 12 donated pieces have a combined value of €50,000.

Meanwhile, the bank is auctioning 151 pieces, worth over €4m, from its 2,000-piece collection later this month. The donation comes just weeks after artists called for a boycott of the auction, which includes works by some of Ireland's most famous artists, including Paul Henry and Louis LeBrocquy.

They claim the auction will flood the already deflated art market with works at the same time as they are also trying to sell individual pieces.

It also follows the intervention of Arts Minister Mary Hanafin, who requested that the bank donate the 12 pieces to national institutions.

The bank said the proceeds will be distributed to community-based arts organisations through its investment programme, Give Together.

"This looks like a PR stunt to deflect from the auction; why aren't they donating more valuable pieces?" Mr Ballagh asked last night.

He added that the bank is sending the message that it is not interested in maintaining its collection.

Mr Ballagh admitted he has personal reasons for opposing the sale, which is breaking up one of his collections. But he said the bank, which has received €3.5bn state support, could do more to ensure more art went to a public collection.

The decision to donate the 12 pieces to the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) was welcomed by Ms Hanafin yesterday.

"This is a good result, they will fill a gap in the national collection when they go to IMMA," she said.

Irish Independent

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