Since its launch two years ago, this annual event has successfully pioneered the concept of the accessible and enjoyable art fair in Ireland by providing a unique opportunity for members of the public to view thousands of works by dozens of the country?s leading artists under a single roof. A long established concept in many other European countries, Art Ireland founder and organiser Maria McMenamin says Irish people have responded very positively to the to idea of a large-scale Irish art fair.
"Thanks to its variety of exhibits and democratic nature, Art Ireland is playing an important role in breaking down many of the prejudices and pretensions surrounding the visual arts scene. One of our great strengths is that with so many artists on hand, visitors will quickly discover that they are the most down-to-earth people in the world. We also work hard to create a relaxed and friendly atmosphere in which people can enjoy themselves, including the provision of a restaurant, cafe and wine bar," she says.
Ideally timed for seasonal shoppers with Christmas in mind, Art Ireland?s open philosophy is reflected by a wide range of prices to suit every pocket, starting from as little as E150 for an original print. Although prices can go as high as E40,000 for a major painting by a top name, the vast majority of the works on view are available at affordable prices which won?t break the bank. And for the canny buyer, there's plenty of scope to make a shrewd investment.
"The best advice we can give it that you really have to love a work of art to buy it. Having said that, it's also true that some works may also represent a sound financial investment," Maria says.
With over 7,000 people attending last year's show, Maria McMenamin says she has been very excited by the exceptionally positive response from visitors to the previous two fairs. The introduction last year of late opening on Friday night proved particularly popular with people who took the opportunity to drop into the exhibition on their way home from work.
"Our feedback to date has confirmed that there is a big market among people from all walks of life for quality works of art. For the artistic community, Art Ireland provides an excellent forum in which they can make contacts, generate sales and showcase their work before an exceptionally large audience.
It all adds up to a uniquely accessible exhibition of a wide spectrum of contemporary art, from original paintings and high quality prints to one-off sculptural pieces and ceramics.
Even if visitors do not buy anything at the fair, it is a very enjoyable day out with a great atmosphere. This year the exhibition is moving into the Main Hall of the RDS, so there will be plenty of space to sit and absorb the art works on view," Maria concludes.
With over 100 participating artists, Art Ireland 2002 will be the country?s biggest visual arts event of the year. Among those already confirmed to take part are such well known names as Sandra Bell, Graham Elliot, Darlene Garr, Ursula Klinger, Ludmila Korol, Syra Larkin, Louise Mansfield, John Philip Murray, John Nolan, Liam O?Neill, Ian Pollock, James Quinn and Claudio Viscardi.
Medium: acrylic on canvas panel