AN exhibition by one of Laois’s best-known artists, based on the writings of the county’s most famous patriot, was unveiled in Australia last week.
The collection by acclaimed artist Brendon Deacy features paintings that visualise the writings of 19th century patriot James Fintan Lalor in a 21st century context.
The exhibition was officially opened by Irish Ambassador to Australia Noel White at a gala ceremony in the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (MADE) in Ballarat near Melbourne and will run until 11 September.
The show, titled Síoraí − Visualising the Words of James Fintan Lalor Today, is expected to increase interest in the life of the Laois patriot, whose writings had a considerable influence on Pádraig Pearse. In the centenary year of the Easter Rising, the exhibition also celebrates the historical bonds between Australia and Ireland.
The museum is located on the site of the Eureka Rebellion, a key event in Australia’s fight for freedom, in which James Fintan Lalor’s youngest brother Peter played a major role.
Peter Fintan Lalor was the main instigator of the 1854 Australian gold miners’ uprising known as the Eureka Stockade and his statue is on the Main Street of Ballarat.
The Deacy exhibition was originally created for the James Fintan Lalor School in 2014 and travelled to Australia with the support of Culture Ireland and the Laois 2016 Commemorations Committee.
The invitation to exhibit came following a visit to Australia by local Lalor clan chieftain Margot Lalor-Coogan, who was guest of honour at celebrations marking the 160th anniversary of the Eureka Stockade in Ballarat.
While there, Margo presented the museum with a limited edition print of one of Brendon’s oil paintings. The print is a portrait of James Fintan Lalor that incorporates the patriot’s famous line: “Ireland her own and all therein from sod to sky.” As a result of the visit, the museum issued an invitation to the Laois artist to bring the James Fintan Lalor exhibition to Australia.
A highly-acclaimed contemporary artist, Brendon Deacy has published two books and many notable public collections hold his art work. He teaches at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) and has been a visiting tutor to the universities of Anadolu (Turkey), Birmingham, Helsinki, San Diego and the Royal College of Art.