Friends raise a teacup as Gallery marks anniversary

The FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio is celebrating five years since it opened its doors to the public.

Since opening on September 26, 2008, the gallery has unquestionably become one of the most important arts venues on the island of Ireland.

It has hosted 20 exhibitions covering a wide spectrum of visual arts since 2008 which has been enjoyed by approximately 150,000 visitors including, most notably, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in May 2009.

Since 2008 Banbridge District Council’s collection of FE McWilliam sculptures has significantly increased, due principally to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland who gifted five McWilliam sculptures to the Gallery in 2011.

The venue also has a number sculptures on view which are on loan from other galleries.

To celebrate the landmark anniversary of opening, the Friends of the FE McWilliam Gallery organised an afternoon tea event in the Quails at the Gallery cafe.

Virtuoso Ivanov, an enchanting husband and wife duo, entertained the tea drinkers to a delightful selection of light classical music making this a very special afternoon to mark a very special occasion.

Co-curator of the FE McWilliam Gallery and Studio, Deirdre Quail, commented, “Surprisingly, after five years, there are still some Banbridge people who have not yet visited the Gallery. It may be one of those things that you mean to do but don’t get round to.

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“I’m sure that if they did make that first visit they would return many times. There is no charge to view any of the exhibitions and the Gallery Sculpture Garden has matured in to a very lovely restful space. The current exhibition, Analysing Cubism, is a very important exhibition and well worth a visit.”

The Friends of the FE McWilliam Gallery support the Gallery with their membership fees and this year they also hope to make a small contribution towards the transportation costs for Primary School children to visit the Gallery.

They also hope to support an Art Fund grant application to buy a small McWilliam bronze.

As a society, the Friends enjoy an annual programme of events of which the Anniversary Afternoon Tea party was but one which proved to be a roaring success and worth raising a teacup to.