9 April 2009 Edition
The 1916 Signatories Series by Robert Ballagh
BY ELLA O’DWYER
IN the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Sinn Féin has commissioned world-famous artist Robert Ballagh to create a series of prints representing each of the seven signatories to The Proclamation of the Republic.
The series is limited to 350 copies and as such will make important collectors’ items both for their historic significance and for their importance as original works of art from a renowned artist of our time.
Robert Ballagh is considered a very important figure in the art world, both at home and abroad. The esteem in which he’s held in Ireland is reflected by the fact that he is a member of Aosdána, a position held by only the most highly respected figures in the literary and artistic fields in this country.
I believe the 1916 Proclamation can stand up with all great documents produced throughout history, from the Magna Carta to the American Declaration of Independence
– World-renowned artist Robert Ballagh
Robert is also respected in republican circles, not just for the quality of his work but also because he was ready to represent republicanism through his work throughout times when it was unpopular to do so. He produced the bronze and marble cast pieces representing the Easter Lily presented to the families of dead Volunteers at the Tír Grá event in 2002 and his bronze and marble cast torches were presented to various Le Chéile honourees down through the years. So it is no surprise that he would be the artist Sinn Féin would turn to to carry out the series on ‘The Signatories’.
The series representing the Proclamation signatories will be framed, numbered, dated and signed by the artist and will incorporate both a hand-etched glass portrait of a 1916 signatory and special printed museum-quality print of the Proclamation.
The concept of this series is to celebrate the ideal of a 32-county republic as envisaged by the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation and each year, at Easter, between now and 2016, a new print will be issued. The series will commence at Easter 2009 with Pádraig Pearse. This, the first in the series, is a striking piece set against a green background. While you might want to opt for one out of the series, the ideal would be to collect the complete set. At €395 each, these pieces are a good buy given the series is limited to a tight number of productions.
I did a print for the 20th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike. Fidel Castro put it on the wall of his office
From the republican’s perspective there are equally if not more important reasons for procuring at least one from the series – Ballagh’s courageous support for republicanism through his work during times when it could well have mitigated against him, but then Robert Ballagh is an artist with vision and a republican by conviction.
“I’ve always been a republican even though I’m one of those republicans who never joined a political party or organisation,” Robert says.
“I was asked to do a series of prints which would be published every year in the lead up to 2016. Several things struck me that should be included in the prints. One is the 1916 Proclamation, which, I believe, can stand up with all great documents produced throughout history, from the Magna Carta to the American Declaration of Independence. Also in each print you have a portrait of one of the seven signatories.
“I’ve done various pieces of work representing the republican struggle, some of which have ended up in auspicious places. I did a print for the 20th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike and Gerry Adams took a copy with him when he went to see Fidel Castro, which Fidel said he very much appreciated. In fact Fidel put it on the wall of his office.” Well if Fidel can have a work by Ballagh, why can’t you? The ‘Signatories Series’ is available from Easter Week at the Sinn Féin Bookshop, 58 Parnell Square, Dublin 1 (www.sinnfeinbookshop.com).