Thursday 20 June 2019

Take it as read! Gifts to captivate everyone

Illustrated tomes always make a great pressie

Bygone era: Fascinating pictures of the Capital in Dublin Since 1922
Bygone era: Fascinating pictures of the Capital in Dublin Since 1922
Deirdre Conroy

Deirdre Conroy

Whether it is for the art lover in your life, the history lover, the architecture and travel lover or just the good old lover in your life, there's plenty to choose from.

For friends inclined towards contemporary art, top of the list is The Poetry of Vision: Rosc Art Exhibitions 1967 - 1988 by Peter Shortt (Irish Academic Press €35). Rosc was the brainchild of architect Michael Scott, co-founder of Scott Tallon Walker.

His idea was to exhibit acclaimed International and Irish artists every four years. So, Picasso, Bacon, Miro, Magritte, Lichtenstein, Rothko and Gilbert & George all showed at Rosc. The show helped promote Robert Ballagh, Louis le Brocquy, Patrick Scott and many other Irish artists, abroad.

This is a precious record of an exceptional initiative, packed with photographs that defy belief. It must have been amazing to see the work of neo-avant-garde Robert Rauschenberg here in 1967, and if you're a fan, he has a major retrospective coming up in London.

Also packed with fascinating historic photographs is Dublin Since 1922 (Hachette €22.99). Tim Carey's book is presented with diary highlights of events and focuses on the corners and backstreets of Dublin, but actually recalls how the entire nation shaped our capital city.

I would highly recommend you get your kids off-line this Christmas and have them thumbing through these pages.

If your art lover has more of a historic bent, then Irish Fine Art in the Early Modern Period 1620-1820 (Irish Academic Press €29.99) is richly illustrated, combined with new insights into patronage and Ireland's artistic and social history.

To coincide with a new exhibition, the National Gallery has produced a commemorative book recollecting seismic moments in time, situating the paintings in a broad political, social and aesthetic context - Creating History, Stories of Ireland in Art is edited by Brendan Rooney and costs €24.99.

If every artwork tells a story, then Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks (Irish Times and Royal Irish Academy, €29.00) edited by Fintan O'Toole, Catherine Marshall and Eibhear Walshe, tells the history of a nation. From 1916 and James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, modern Ireland's coming-of-age is narrated through painting, sculpture, novels, theatre, poetry, architecture and installation. This is a very handsome gift and its diverse contents will have something to captivate everybody in the family.

As urban planning and architecture becomes more of a hot topic, More than Concrete Blocks 1900-40 edited by Ellen Rowley (Four Courts Press, €24.95) is not just a great read for the design enthusiast, but I'd say quite nostalgic for the grandparents.

This is the first volume in a three-part series, which will take the reader up to the architecture of 2000.

Do you know an engineering nerd with a passion for rural stone bridges? The glossy hardback, Irish Stone Bridges, was first published 30 years ago and, this year, revised by Rob Goodbody. Exquisitely illustrated, it is a fascinating nationwide survey, ideal for tourists, hikers, teachers, architects and local historians. From Carlingford to Waterford, our bridge design is testament to the island's progress and its hidden treasures (Irish Academic Press with Dublin City Council 39.99).

Last, but not least, for the lover in your life, there is Hidden Ireland (Blackstaff, €29.99). This lavish coffee table book, illuminates our finest period homes - open to PG's (paying guests) - with photography by James Fennell of Burtown House and words by antique dealer, Josephine Ryan, this is the luxury treat to tempt your dearest away. So buy the book, book the room, and happy holidays one and all.

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