THE University of Limerick should move its major art collections to a city centre location, a local councillor has said.
Speaking at the launch of Limerick’s exhibition of visual art, eva International, which has returned after a two-year absence, Labour councillor Tom Shortt made the call on UL to “make a contribution to the city centre”.
“I really would like to think that the arts in Limerick will impact more and more on the everyday life of the city,” explained Cllr Shortt, acting as deputy mayor at the function in the absence of Cllr Jim Long.
“It is something I have been thinking about with regard to UL and what it could bring to the city centre, it has a number of major art collections - such as the self-portrait collection - and perhaps a city centre location would be better for that.
“That would be something UL could do for the city and there is so much debate at the moment around that. I only have to point to the Hunt Collection, which was previously housed in UL and was hard to find when it was out there, and it is now so much easier to find,” he added.
A huge crowd turned out to witness eva’s launch in Limerick City Gallery of Art last Friday.
The exhibition showcases work from 40 Irish and international artists, selected from over 2,000 proposals from 76 countries, at various locations around the city.
The restructured eva will run as a biennial and has seen a full-time director in Woodrow Kernohan, appointed on a three-year contract, a fact eva chairman Hugh Murray said would allow the festival to “plan for the future”.
“I am delighted eva is back and it was a bit of a trauma that it didn’t happen last year, but there is a fair amount of pragmatism behind it and with the funding we have, we should be able to do a better eva every two years,” he stressed.
Eva curator, Annie Fletcher, styled under the theme After the Future, said she was “delighted” with the reaction.
“I think people really noticed its loss and there was an awful lot of energy and support, which is wonderful,” she explained. “It is going through its new phase but I think it can escalate if anything. It has always been extraordinarily important, but it can compete on the international stage and you can see the hunger for it.”
Minister of State, Jan O’Sullivan TD said it was “one of the high points of cultural life in Limerick”.
“It is always challenging, people sometimes don’t like what they see, but that is what art is about, making you question things and I think that is very positive,” she said.