In May 2022, the IGS will explore the history of the Irish Country House Garden at the City Assembly House, Dublin, with the launch of In Harmony with Nature: The Irish Country House Garden 1600-1900. Alongside this unique exhibition, Stepping Through the Gate: Inside Ireland’s Walled Gardens will return to the walls of the O’Connell Room, and feature specially commissioned paintings of Irish Walled Gardens by four leading artists. Curated by Robert O’Byrne, former vice-President of the IGS, both exhibitions are not to be missed and will be of exceptional interest to anyone with an interest in Irish gardens and gardening. The Exhibition will be open to the public from 20th May to late July, Tuesday-Sunday (10am-5pm).
In Harmony with Nature: The Irish Country House Garden
While the changing landscape of the Irish countryside has been extensively examined in recent decades, the evolution of gardens attached to country houses remains under investigated.
This exhibition will explore the history of the Irish Country House Garden using paintings, engravings and photographs as well as film and other media creating an exciting, engaging and informative experience.
It will open c.1600 with sites around castles and fortified houses such as those at Lismore, County Waterford and Portumna, County Galway, and it will end with two great island gardens created just before the First World War: Garnish, County Kerry and Lambay, County Dublin.
The exhibition will consider what makes our gardens different from those found in other countries. What plants were favoured during which eras? Who were the most significant plantsmen and women? What role did owners play in laying out a garden? Who were the most important gardeners? What new species were introduced to Ireland, especially in the 19th century?
Stepping Through the Gate: Inside Ireland’s Walled Gardens
Walled gardens have a long history going back millennia having often simultaneously served not just as places to grow fruit and vegetables, but also areas of privacy and of protection from intemperate weather conditions.
This exhibition will feature fifty specially commissioned paintings of Walled Gardens by four distinguished artists: Lesley Fennell, Andrea Jameson, Maria Levinge and Alison Rosse.
All four artists are active gardeners and are people who understand plants. Alison Rosse and her husband inherited responsibility for one of Ireland’s finest demesnes at Birr Castle which includes superlative walled gardens laid out by his late parents. Lesley Fennell can take credit for creating a truly lovely garden at Burtown, County Kildare. Together with her two sisters, at Tourin, County Waterford, Andrea Jameson ensures that the walled garden remains as productive as ever, while Maria Levinge, having moved house a few years ago, embarked on establishing a new garden in County Wexford.
Paintings in the exhibition will be available for purchase.
Digging New Ground, the Irish Country House Garden 1650-1900
To coincide with these exhibitions the Irish Georgian Society has published Digging New Ground, the Irish Country House Garden 1650-1900. Edited by Finola O’Kane and Robert O’Byrne, this book investigates the history, design and planting of the Irish country house garden and considers garden making as an art form in all its dimensions. It is available in the City Assembly House, on the IGS shop website and in all good bookshops.
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