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Scholarcast 56: Revival and Visual Art – Harry Clarke's Geneva Window

Róisín Kennedy


The episode focuses on one of the most elaborate artworks to be made in Ireland in the 1920s, Harry Clarke's Geneva Window. The work, intended for the League of Nations, illustrates extracts from the texts of fifteen Irish writers including James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, J.M. Synge, Sean O'Casey and Liam O'Flaherty. Clarke's innovative approach to the technique of stained glass and his wide knowledge of ancient and modern art and literature made him one of the most remarkable and versatile visual artists of his generation. The 'genuine Celtic character' of his designs was acclaimed by leading members of the Revival such as George Russell and W. B. Yeats, while his work also offered a unique synthesis of art and literature. Placing the Geneva Window within the context of Clarke's relationship to the Revival, the podcast considers how the choice of texts and imagery within its design both reinforce and counteract projections of Irish identity. Can the Geneva Window be considered a late work of the Revival and if so what does its official rejection tell us about the Free State's attitude towards the Revival and its role in the immediate post-independence period?

Róisín Kennedy

Róisín Kennedy is Lecturer in modern and contemporary Irish art at the School of Art History and Cultural Policy at UCD. She is former Yeats Curator at the National Gallery of Ireland (2006-08) where she curated the exhibitions, The Fantastic in Irish Art and Masquerade and Spectacle. The Circus and Travelling Fair in the Work of Jack B. Yeats. Her research focuses on modern Irish art and its contexts, the role of women as artists, patrons and facilitators and on censorship. She has published widely on these subjects in edited collections and in Circa, Irish Arts Review, Third Text and Journal of Art Historiography. Her book on the reception of modernist art in Ireland is in preparation for publication.


Series edited by: Giulia Bruna and Catherine Wilsdon
General Editor: P.J. Mathews
Scholarcast original theme music by: Padhraic Egan, Michael Hussey and Sharon Hussey.
Recording, audio editing, photography, video and development by: John Matthews, Vincent Hoban, Seán O'Domhnaill, Brian Kelly & Ken Doyle at UCD Media Services.

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