Sunday 18 March 2018

High art in Kenny's office - but there's one notable omission...

But Cowen isn't in the frame for official portrait

Culture: Taoiseach Enda Kenny in front of a portrait of Michael Collins in his office Photo: Tony Gavin
Culture: Taoiseach Enda Kenny in front of a portrait of Michael Collins in his office Photo: Tony Gavin
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

From a Louis le Brocquy painting of Nelson Mandela to a 'tap-danced' canvas by Lord of the Dance star Michael Flatley - the Taoiseach's inner sanctum is graced with over €270,000 worth of prized artefacts.

A complete list of artwork adorning the walls of Enda Kenny's department shows a list of famous sculptures and painters.

Michael Flatley's painting
Michael Flatley's painting

Among the valuable items is an acrylic image of the Famine by Riverdance star turned artist, Michael Flatley. Titled The Walking Dead, Flatley used his feet to create the painting by dancing on the canvas.

The picture, with an estimated value of €5,000, takes pride of place in the Taoiseach's office. Flatley presented it to Kenny in 2013, during a meeting in Government Buildings.

The Taoiseach said he was "delighted" to accept the painting "on behalf of the State", describing it as "very striking indeed". Another eye-catching piece which adorns the corridors of power is Seedingsong by Irish artist, Michael Canning.

Purchased for €8,000, it depicts a single wild flower against a backdrop of evening sky dotted with migrating birds.

A trawl through official records reveals the most valuable item located in the department is an oil-on-canvas, entitled Triptych, priced at €10,000, and created by Chung Eun Mo.

A bust of former US president John F Kennedy from the JFK Presidential Library in Boston was gifted to Mr Kenny in 2012, and was valued at €2,000.

He was also presented with a painting by artist Xu Yang of the city of Suzhou in eastern China, by Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping in February 2012. In total, there are more than 16,000 historic and contemporary artworks owned by the State, held in 400 locations nationwide.

Paintings of former Taoisigh take prominent positions in Kenny's personal quarters. A portrait of former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, by Jim Harkin, was bought for €1,752.

However, one omission from the line-up is a portrait of a recent holder of the office: Brian Cowen. Paintings for display in Leinster House are commissioned by the Office of Public Works (OPW) at the request of the Department of the Taoiseach. Cowen resigned in January 2011 following a period of major political turbulence.

A department spokesperson confirmed to the Sunday Independent that, as of now, it has no immediate plans to commission a portrait of the former Taoiseach, so that he can take his place alongside his predecessors .

Sunday Independent

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