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The National Gallery’s Leah Benson on uncovering the hidden histories of female artists like Sarah Cecilia Harrison

Leah Benson, the archivist for the National Gallery of Ireland, has taken a particular interest in the life and legacy of Irish artist and activist Sarah Cecilia Harrison. She studied at UCD

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Leah Benson. Picture by Jack Caffrey.

Leah Benson. Picture by Jack Caffrey.

Actor Lesley Conroy in character as arist Sarah Cecilia Harrison for Citizen Lane, in front of a self portait by the real-life artist

Actor Lesley Conroy in character as arist Sarah Cecilia Harrison for Citizen Lane, in front of a self portait by the real-life artist

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Leah Benson. Picture by Jack Caffrey.

As is often the case, the National Gallery of Ireland archive in relation to Irish art has naturally focused on men. That’s just a reflection on how it was. It was hard to be an established female artist.

When we were curating the 2018 exhibition [In]Visible: Irish Women Artists from the Archives, it really showed how there was a huge gap to fill. Male artists are all there and easy to find, but the women we had to go and dig for.


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