Wednesday 21 August 2019

Out of cold storage: Ballagh's mural back on display after 27 years

Art on their sleeve: Emma Russell with her daughter Caitlin looking at the installation ‘People & a Frank Stella’ by artist Robert Ballagh in the Showgrounds Shopping Centre, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, part of The Clonmel Junction Arts Festival, which runs until Sunday. Photo: John D Kelly
Art on their sleeve: Emma Russell with her daughter Caitlin looking at the installation ‘People & a Frank Stella’ by artist Robert Ballagh in the Showgrounds Shopping Centre, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, part of The Clonmel Junction Arts Festival, which runs until Sunday. Photo: John D Kelly

Caroline Crawford

An 80ft mural which was the first major commission for artist Robert Ballagh has gone on public view after decades in storage.

The 18-panel series, which was created on Formica-laminated plastic, was created by Ballagh in 1975 for the Five Star Shopping Centre in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

The renowned artist themed the piece 'People and a Frank Stella' and included himself, his wife and young daughter Rachel along with friends in the expansive mural.

After spending 27 years in storage in the care of the Tipperary County Museum, 10 of the 18 panels have now been returned to public view in a unit of The Showgrounds Shopping Centre in Clonmel.

The decision to return it to public display has been welcomed by the artist.

"Obviously, you have to sell work to survive, but it's sometimes a little bit frustrating if a private person buys a picture and it goes into their house [and] that nobody has ever seen it again. I like my work to end up in public spaces," he said.

He said when it was on display at the shopping centre before, "people were parking their bikes and prams and everything against it, but there's very little damage done to it".

Irish Independent

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