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Imogen Stuart, RHA, with one of her works, Christ Teaching, from the MIC collection

IMOGEN STUART, RHA, MAKES SPECIAL RETURN VISIT TO MIC

Mary Immaculate College was delighted to welcome the renowned artist and sculptor, Imogen Stuart, RHA back for a “sculpture walk around the campus recently. As the latest recipient of the Colleges highest honour, the McAuley Medal, the sculptor was given a warm welcome by the College Community.

The award, which is named in memory of Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Catholic Sisters of Mercy, whose dedication to the marginalised in society continues to inform the Colleges ethos, was presented to Imogen Stuart on 3rd September 2010 by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, who is a great admirer of her work.

Described by Brian Fallon as a “woman of two worlds” – German by birth, upbringing and artistic training, but also Irish by adoption, involvement and sympathy, Imogen is one of Irelands most accomplished artists with major works sited throughout the country.

She has been a celebrated member of the Irish artistic community since the 1950s, recognised by her peers, as an elected member both of the Royal Hibernian Academy and of Aosdána.

Imogen Stuart, RHA, with Prof Peadar Cremin, President

Imogen then described three major pieces which were commissioned by the Sisters of Mercy in 1958 through the renowned Limerick architect, Andy Devine, who had an appreciation for the sculptors style. As the group visited St Brigid, St Colmcille and Christ Teaching in turn, Imogen explained, “One of the first big commissions I received after coming to live in Ireland in 1951 was from Mary Immaculate College when I was invited to carve three life-size statues. As you can imagine, at that time it was very unusual to get a commission for three statues in one place... My relationship with the College has lasted ever since, more than fifty years.”  The Scholar and the Blackbird, carved out of 250 year-old pitch-pine rafters, is intended as a kind of reading bench for students, located just inside the entrance of the College Library.

The audience heard that the piece is named after a marginal poem, or a poem written by a monk for his own amusement in the margins of his manuscript, the words of which are carved around the central post.

Walking through the College's new state-of-the-art teaching building, Teamhair/TARA, Imogen remarked, “I really love the architecture, the finish on everything, down to the wood of the doors. I am so pleased my Window on the World and In Principio have found a home here.” The Window on the World, an immense piece, housed in a purpose-built meditation space, was formerly called the Famine Window and was originally formerly called the Famine Window and was originally exhibited at a famine exhibition in Boston. According to Imogen, the “Fensterkros or “window-cross easily lent itself to the central image of the crucifixion. Moving on to In Principio, a giant, iconic figure carved in pitchpine with an Ogham inscription on the side, which stands at the end of An Slí, the longest corridor in the building, Imogen said, “The idea was to make man and cross in one, like something that was there from the beginning of time. The proportions are unusual – more like the icons on Easter Island, but Irish art was like that once too. I would love to do it in granite, about 10ft high but I wont be able to carve it myself now. Maybe someone will take it up when I'm pushing daisies!”

 

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