In January 2015, the second RHA recent acquisitions exhibition will be held in the Dr. Tony Ryan Gallery. This show will comprise of Members’ work that are called Diploma pieces, following the historic tradition that newly elected Members are required by our bylaws to donate a significant piece of their work to the Academy collection.
During the fighting of Easter week in 1916, Academy House, the RHA’s original purpose built gallery and school on Middle Abbey Street, was destroyed. The entire Summer Exhibition, archives and collection were lost, amounting to the biggest cultural loss in the city during that turbulent time.
Some gaps in the collection were addressed in the intervening years but there are unfortunately huge deficits in the representation of historical Members’ work in the collection. In an ideal world the aspiration would be to redress this imbalance and restore the collection to the significance it deserves as the oldest artistic collective on this island.
Recently we have been successful in garnering wonderful diploma pieces from our current membership. The show in January will include work by Eilis O’Connell RHA, Dr. Imogen Stuart RHA, the late Conor Fallon RHA, Una Sealy ARHA, Blaise Smith ARHA, Maeve McCarthy RHA, Rachel Joynt RHA, Martin Gale RHA and others.
The RHA Assembly approved recently that a special section in the collection be created for drawings. Members have been invited to donate a drawing in addition to their diploma piece and some of these will also be included in the January exhibition. I plan to have a publication for 2016 on the collection as the most fitting way not just to commemorate the darkest time in the RHA’s history but also to serve as a reminder of our recovery and our state of good health today.