Jack B.Yeats: Painting & Memory Landmark Exhibition Happily Supported by Key Capital

Conor Killeen - Executive Chairman of Key Capital, Claire McDonagh - Fundraising & Sponsorship Manager at the National Gallery of Ireland, Sean Rainbird - Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, and Colin Morgan - Group CEO of Key Capital.

Conor Killeen - Executive Chairman of Key Capital, Claire McDonagh - Fundraising & Sponsorship Manager at the National Gallery of Ireland, Sean Rainbird - Director of the National Gallery of Ireland, and Colin Morgan - Group CEO of Key Capital.

Exhibition and Schools Competition Cause Memories to Come Flooding Back

From 4 September 2021 to 6 February 2022, the National Gallery of Ireland displayed the largest exhibition of Yeats’s oil paintings in 50 years. The exhibition coincided with the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of Ireland’s pre-eminent artists. The exhibition offered a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see some of Yeats’s most important paintings. It explored the role of memory in Jack B. Yeats’s life and how it influenced his work.

Despite the pandemic restrictions for much of the five month showing of Jack B.Yeats: Painting & Memory, the numbers are impressive:

  • Over 33,000 visitors viewed the exhibition

  • Heavily subscribed with many sell-out weekends

  • Huge support in for the 8 week online art appreciation course on the Yeats family

  • 87 schools from all over the island of Ireland took part in the Schools Competition webinar exploring the importance of place and memory to Jack B. Yeats

  • 98 schools entered the art competition

What made this exhibition particularly special was that many of the 84 oil paintings spanning more than 40-years were from private collections and lenders, from Ireland and around the world, and are rarely available for the public to view.

From his earliest forays into oil painting, Yeats was unusually reliant on memory and retrospection. Memories of childhood in Sligo inspired many of his works, and particular motifs – music and horses prominent among them – recur in his paintings. In this selection of oil paintings, Gallery visitors viewed the places and people Yeats remembered, his observations of humanity, and reflections on life and loss in his later years. 

Yeats’s oil paintings, two thirds of them created after the age of 60, depict wonderfully vivid memories of fondly remembered places and a kaleidoscopic range of human encounters and emotions. We have been immensely proud to showcase and celebrate the work of Jack B Yeats on the 150th anniversary of his birth. My thanks to Key Capital for their invaluable support of the exhibition, and their continuing support of the National Gallery of Ireland.
Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland
Jack B. Yeats: Painting & Memory Schools Competition

The Gallery held an art competition for schools across the island to offer schools the opportunity to engage more deeply with the themes of place and memory in Jack B. Yeats’s work, and to create a collaborative artwork inspired by the memories of people in their local area.  

There were 98 high quality entries in total. Eight winners were selected – 4 primary and 4 post primary representing each province, and two highly commended in each category.

Each winning school received an exciting prize package worth €1,000 which included: a voucher for transport costs to visit the Gallery with activity included, or an artist-led workshop in the school, art materials, and a framed reproduction of a work by Jack B. Yeats to hang in the classroom.

Eimear McKeown, Head of Art & Design, New-Bridge Integrated College, Banbridge, Co. Down, said: "Just a quick word to remark on this wonderful opportunity for our pupils!  Our goal in school this term has been to re-engage with learning by promoting group work and practical thinking, all available in this package, thank you very much!  A great focus and generous incentive.  We’ll look forward to meeting you and your team and to see what the impact of this project can have on our young people."

The competition judges were: Brian Ranalow, artist; Catherine O’Donnell, Education Officer, National Gallery of Ireland, and Brendan Rooney, Head Curator, National Gallery of Ireland.

News of the winning schools provided great excitement in towns and villages across the country, with interviews and articles in over 20 local newspapers and radio programmes. See all the winning entries from the Jack B. Yeats: Painting & Memory Schools Competition on the National Gallery website here.

We have been consistently active in supporting the advancement of the Arts in Ireland since the establishment of Key Capital in 2001. We have similar objectives to the National Gallery in this regard: building for the future, safeguarding and handing on to the next generation. While our role as sponsor of this exhibition is supporting the widest possible audience to access it, we are committed to activities that educate and develop interest in the arts for future generations.
Conor Killeen, Executive Chairman of Key Capital
Art Appreciation Course

The story of the extraordinary Yeats family was the theme of a new online art appreciation which ran throughout October and November 2021.  This eight-week online course with art historian Jessica Fahy delved into the artistic production of three generations of the Yeats family.

The course explored the story of John Butler Yeats, an extraordinary portraitist who could capture a likeness in minutes; his daughters Lily and Lolly, who helped found an Irish arts and crafts guild; and his sons William and Jack, one better-known as a poet but with ambitions to be an artist, and the other who remains perhaps the best-known Irish artist to this day. The course also examined the fascinating work of Anne Yeats, granddaughter of John, a versatile artist who, like the rest of her family, played an important role in the art world in Ireland.

Happy Memories 

One of Key Capital’s clients on seeing the exhibition fondly recalled coming to the National Gallery as a child on a school trip and how that trip instilled a lifelong love of art. Others reminisced about the sentimental and vivid childhood memories of Sligo that the paintings evoked.

While the sponsorship affords us a unique way to offer a different experience for our clients, we were really excited to see the response from the schools competition from all over Ireland, both primary and secondary level. The National Gallery team took up the challenge to extend this to secondary level and delivered a superb community experience.”
Colin Morgan, Group CEO at Key Capital

Key Capital takes great pleasure in supporting this landmark exhibition which will shape and build a strong connection to Irish art for decades to come, and which has left many happy memories.

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