Sir William Orpen Exhibition Launch by Dominic Lee
Sir William Orpen R.A., R.H.A. 1878-1931
As William Orpen was born in Stillorgan I always felt it would be nice to honour his genius with an exhibition of some of his paintings or to erect a statue of him in the village.
There was no problem finding a location for a statue but funding was the main obstacle.
While everyone thought an exhibition was a great idea, there were two main obstacles, where to house an exhibition that would remain open 7 days a week and again finance was naturally an issue.
In December 2012 Ray Corey, the Manager of Stillorgan Village Shopping Centre ran a competition to rename the Malls and he mentioned to me that my “pal” Orpen was one of the winning entries so I seised the opportunity and purchased some digital files of Orpens paintings from the National Gallery.
I printed Orpen’s works on 100% cotton rag paper to maintain authenticity, mounted and framed them and asked Ray to hang them on the columns between each window on the 1st floor of the newly named Orpen Mall. My plan worked (although a bit of arm twisting was required) he agreed to fund a total of 25 framed reproductions of Sir William Orpen’s paintings.
I then asked Jimmy Deenihan, T.D. Minister for Art, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to perform the official opening. I have known Jimmy since he featured in my first photography book “Out of Your Tree” and he immediately accepted my invitation.
The launch was a huge success and was attended by about 70 local business owners including the son of William Orpens chauffeur and two of Orpens relations. Priory Studios also had a loan of an original Orpen painting from a private collector just for the launch.
The exhibition is permanent, it’s open to all during the Shopping Centres business hours and it’s free.
My next project will be to erect a statue of Orpen in Stillorgan and the Stillorgan Chamber of Commerce have kindly agreed to start an Orpen Statue Fund and will accept all donations large or small until this goal is achieved. A raffle at the launch raised €300 and the winner from Donal McNally Opticians received a framed reproduction of an Orpen painting. However, I subsequently received a very generous pledge of €5000 towards the fund, so one minute it did seem like an impossible task and the next minute a piece of cake!
Photographs taken by William Barr and Vladimir Polivanov. Video by Rob Lee
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