Portrait of a Nation: Art, Politics and the Anglo-Irish Treaty

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Conference: Portrait of a Nation: Art, Politics and the Anglo-Irish Treaty

Dates: 22 and 23 April 2022

Location: National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks.

As Ireland reflects on some of the most difficult and contested histories of the Decade of Centenaries, a major conference entitled Portrait of a Nation: Art, Politics and the Anglo-Irish Treaty takes place on 22nd – 23rd April 2022, exploring the intersection between art and politics in the context of the birth of the new Irish state.


Organised jointly by the Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland, the conference takes its inspiration from the 'Studio & State' exhibition currently on view until December 2022, itself a collaboration between these two institutions, marking the centenary of the signing and ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

This conference brings together a broad range of speakers - historians, artists, writers and curators - to share, discuss and debate themes from the background to the signing of the Treaty in London in 1921 to its legacy and impact on ordinary Irish people; from questions around memory and trauma to the role of the artist as witness to history.

The conference will be livestreamed on 22nd - 23rd April  as well as taking place in person number at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks.

“The conference is a collaboration between the education teams at each institution” explained Helen Beaumont, Education Officer National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks “and working in partnership has been a wonderful opportunity for us to bring an amazing group of speakers together to explore this fascinating space where art, history and politics connect. It’s also brilliant to be able to have a conference onsite at Collins Barracks again, though audiences will also be able to engage online, as it will be live-streamed.”

Jessica O’Donnell, Head of Education at the Hugh Lane Gallery, said “The Hugh Lane Gallery is delighted to collaborate with the National Museum on this exciting conference.  Sixteen stimulating illustrated presentations will explore diverse aspects of the Treaty through the lens of art, politics, society, family, music, sport and more to produce a rich and varied tapestry of perspectives which we hope our audiences will enjoy.”

Speakers invited include historians Dr Sinéad McCoole, Dr Mary McAuliffe and Professor Paul Rouse; writers Gretchen Friemann, Flor McCarthy and Valerie Cox; and artists Anthony Haughey, Amanda Dunsmore and Niamh McCann.


Tickets to the conference can be booked on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/portrait-of-a-nation-art-politics-and-the-anglo-irish-treaty-tickets-305523668517


Free online admission.

There is a limited number of places available for onsite attendance at Collins Barracks

€5 per day

Portrait of a Nation: Art, Politics and the Anglo-Irish Treaty


Friday 22nd April

9am Registration

9.15am Welcome, Dr Audrey Whitty, Deputy Director and Head of Collections, National Museum of Ireland

9.30 - 10.30am Truce to Treaty in Ireland

Mark Duncan - Chair

Gretchen Friemann - From self-proclaimed Republic to reluctant Dominion: The imperial realities behind the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty

Dr Sinéad McCoole - Unreal? Who were the Laverys and what was their Nation State?

10.30 - 11am Coffee

11am - 12.40pm Politics of Identity and Place

Dr Leeann Lane - Chair

Dr Mary Staines - Identity and Place in the Treaty Debates

Dr Conor Morrissey - Protestant nationalists, and Protestant servicemen, and the Treaty

Dr Mary McAuliffe - Recognise that it was 'Sister against Sister' too! Splits, divisions and violence between women during the Irish Civil War, 1922 - 1923

Dr Cormac Moore - 'The Root of all Evil' - Northern Irish Nationalists and Unionists' reaction to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty

12.40 - 2pm Lunch


2 - 4pm Cultural legacy of the Treaty

Dr William Shortall - Chair

Niamh McNally - Estella Solomons - Still Moments

Terry Moylan – “Those in power don't write the songs”

Dr Éimear O'Connor - Art, Ireland and the Irish American diaspora: Tensions in representation between 1922 and 1930

Professor Paul Rouse - Sport on a partitioned island: The Tailteann Games

Saturday 23rd April

9.30am Registration

9.45am Opening Words - Dr Edith Andrees

10am - 11.15am Divided Families

Dr Georgina Laragy - Chair

Flor McCarthy - A Family on Both Sides - and the ripples through a Century

Liz Gillis - They Place their All on the Altar of their Century: The Hales Brothers and the Irish Civil War

Valerie Cox - Ordinary People in a time of War

11.20 - 11.45am Coffee

11.45am - 1.00pm The Artist as Witness

Logan Sisley - Chair

Niamh McCann - foreground, middleground, background

Amanda Dunsmore - Art making as Longitudinal Social Archiving

Anthony Haughey - Socially Engaged Art: Contesting Cultures, Histories and Narratives

HOW TO BOOK: Fee: €5 per day ticket for attending the conference in person at Collins Barracks or free for viewing live online. Tickets are available via Eventbrite here https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/portrait-of-a-nation-art-politics-and-the-anglo-irish-treaty-tickets-305523668517

Requests for further information

Helen Beaumont, Email: JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING T: 087 2044375

Jessica O’Donnell, Email: JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING T: 01 2225558

About the National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland is the nation’s premier cultural institution and home to the greatest collections of Irish heritage, culture and history. Admission is free.

Website: www.museum.ie

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NationalMuseumofIreland

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NMIreland

Instagram:  @nationalmuseumofireland

About the Hugh Lane Gallery

Hugh Lane Gallery in Parnell Square houses one of the leading museums of Irish and International art in Ireland. The gallery’s renowned collection begins with 19th century European art, with an emphasis on French landscape painting and French Impressionist paintings, through to contemporary art practice. It also has an extensive Irish art collection and continues to support contemporary art in Ireland and internationally. Francis Bacon’s studio and collection is on permanent display and Sean Scully, the Dublin born international contemporary artist, is celebrated with a room specially dedicated to his art. The gallery programmes both historical and contemporary exhibitions and organises dynamic engagement programmes across the city’s diverse communities as well as art education projects in the gallery.

Website: www.hughlane.ie

Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/thehughlane
Twitter; http://www.twitter.com/thehughlane
Instagram: thehughlane

YouTube:  Hugh Lane Gallery