Banbidge gallery marks a decade of artistic triumph

Pictured at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio's 10th anniversary celebrations are (from left) Dr Riann Coulter (Curator), Roger Wilson (Council Chief Executive), Brian Johnston (Council Head of Tourism Arts and Culture Department), Olga Murtagh (Strategic Director - Place) and Th�r�se Rafferty (Head of Regeneration Department).
Pictured at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio's 10th anniversary celebrations are (from left) Dr Riann Coulter (Curator), Roger Wilson (Council Chief Executive), Brian Johnston (Council Head of Tourism Arts and Culture Department), Olga Murtagh (Strategic Director - Place) and Th�r�se Rafferty (Head of Regeneration Department).

F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio, Banbridge, officially marks 10 years of growth, inspiration and passion for the arts this month with two brand new exhibitions.

The gallery, which was first established in September 2008 to honour the life and remarkable work of local, internationally-renowned sculptor Frederick Edward McWilliam, who was born in Banbridge more than a century ago, has firmly established itself as a major and highly-acclaimed visitor destination.

Former Banbridge District Council councillors, senior management and officer involved in bringing the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio project to fruition are pictured at the 10th anniversary celebrations (from left) Joan Baird MBE, Robert Gilmore, John Douglas, Mike Reith and Norah Beare.

Former Banbridge District Council councillors, senior management and officer involved in bringing the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio project to fruition are pictured at the 10th anniversary celebrations (from left) Joan Baird MBE, Robert Gilmore, John Douglas, Mike Reith and Norah Beare.

Since its establishment, it has successfully collaborated with some of Europe’s biggest names in the art world, including the National Gallery of Ireland, Arts Council Collection, London, the Royal Hibernian Academy and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, bringing standout, successful exhibitions to a growing base of local, national and international visitors.

A decade on, and with a record visitor draw approaching 50,000 annually, F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio is looking forward to its next 10 years and is marking this key milestone by celebrating with two new and exciting exhibitions.

At the helm soon after its official opening, F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio curator and specialist in British and Irish art, Dr Riann Coulter, said that after a decade of artistic success, recognition and glowing acclaim, the future was brighter than ever.

“Established to celebrate the life and work of Frederick McWilliam, the gallery has dramatically exceeded expectations and has come to enjoy local and international acclaim for the quality of our exhibitions and the very important relationships which we have established and nurtured over 10 years.

Joining Lord Mayor Councillor Julie Flaherty as she cuts the cake to mark the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio's 10th anniversary are (from left) Millie Moore (Chair - Friends of F.E. McWilliam Gallery), Dr Riann Coulter (Curator) and Roger Wilson (Council Chief Executive).

Joining Lord Mayor Councillor Julie Flaherty as she cuts the cake to mark the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio's 10th anniversary are (from left) Millie Moore (Chair - Friends of F.E. McWilliam Gallery), Dr Riann Coulter (Curator) and Roger Wilson (Council Chief Executive).

“McWilliam’s work remains the key attraction within our artistic programme and we complement our outstanding collection of his work with at least four major modern and contemporary exhibitions every year.”

Over a decade, the gallery has hosted hugely popular exhibitions from some of Europe’s most celebrated artists including William Scott, Basil Blackshaw, Rita Duffy, Margaret Clarke, Susan MacWilliam and, recently, Neil Shawcross. Local groups including Banbridge Camera Club, Banbridge Art Club and local schools and colleges have also had the opportunity to exhibit at the gallery, ensuring its popularity with local visitors and supporters.

There also big plans ahead, with a major exhibition of Scottish art from the Fleming Wyfold Collection scheduled for summer 2019. An exciting collaboration with the British Museum is already under way too, in addition to plans for a unique exhibition of award-winning works from the internationally celebrated local contemporary painter Colin Davidson.

Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon, Cllr Julie Flaherty, said: “With a stunning sculpture garden and an authentic recreation of McWilliam’s studio, we’re delighted and proud to celebrate a decade of work, commitment and success and look forward to the many more great things ahead. We’d like to thank everyone for their patronage and loyalty to the gallery and look forward to seeing faces old and new in this celebratory year.”

Present and past serving staff at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio at the 10th anniversary celebrations.

Present and past serving staff at the F.E. McWilliam Gallery & Studio at the 10th anniversary celebrations.

One of the gallery’s closest collaborations has been with its cross-border partner, Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda. Jointly funded through East Border Region Interreg funding, the two galleries have both become established as leading visual arts venues and are currently working on a new, joint exhibition for November 2018 which features work by top international artists from the Arts Council Collection, London and National Museums Northern Ireland.

F.E. McWilliam Gallery and Studio also incorporates an award-winning restaurant – Quails Café – which adds huge weight to its appeal as a major cultural and hospitality destination which can be shared with family, friends and colleagues.

To celebrate its 10th year, the F.E. McWilliam Studio and Gallery is presenting two very special exhibitions, both of which run until November 10.

Lucienne Day: Living Design Celebrating the life and work of one of most influential designers of the post-war generation, Lucienne Day, and tells the story of her thrilling design career, unfolding in a sequence of photographs drawn from the archives of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation. Curated by Professor Emma Hunt, Arts University Bournemouth and Day’s daughter Paula Day, the critically-acclaimed exhibition has attracted thousands of visitors from across the UK, featuring in Elle Decoration and the Telegraph Magazine.

Open 18 Sculpture: Showcasing the stunning 30 outdoor sculptural works by acclaimed contemporary artists including Sandra Bell, Orla de Bri, Paddy Campbell, Drydan Wilson, Helen Hanse and Anthony Scott. The gallery’s award-winning sculpture garden provides the perfect setting for these stunning works in bronze, stone, steel and glass.