One of the key bodies in the history of Irish art, the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) - an artist-based institution - was founded in 1823 along the lines of the London Royal Academy and is one of the leading Irish art organizations, dedicated to developing and strengthening public awareness of and appreciation for both traditional and more modern approaches to the visual arts. Membership of the Academy is by election of other Academicians. Candidates may first be awarded Associate membership (ARHA), before full membership (RHA). (For its counterpart in Northern Ireland, see: Royal Ulster Academy of Arts.)
Funded by the Arts Council (An Chomhairle Ealaíon), other fundraising projects, revenue from its Annual Exhibition and by its Benefactors, Patrons and Friends, the Royal Hibernian Academy plays a very significant role in the patronage and development of Irish painters and sculptors, and thus on visual arts in Ireland. Over the past 186 years, it's education and exhibition programs have made an enormous contribution to Ireland's fine arts heritage. The list of members and former members of the Royal Hibernian Academy is nothing less than a Who's Who of Famous Irish Artists.
History of the RHA
Due largely to its prestigious annual art exhibition and associated prizes and patronage, by the end of the nineteenth century the RHA had established itself as the principal Irish institution involved in promoting visual arts. However, by the Second World War, this pre-eminence led to criticism that the organization was not responding positively to more modern art forms. Too many talented artists were being excluded from the annual RHA exhibition, and too few women artists were admitted to full Academician status. In 1943, this led to the setting-up of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art - a body which was much readier to embrace abstract art. Fortunately, changes were duly made to the aims of the Academy, and this - combined with the influence of Louis le Brocquy (one of the founders of the Irish Exhibition of Living Art) as a member of the Honorary Council of the Academy - has reassured most critics.
The Royal Hibernian Academy used to occupy Academy House in Dublin's Abbey Street until 1916 when the building was destroyed by fire during the Easter Rising. In 1970, a new building, housing four separate art galleries, was constructed in Ely Place. Three galleries, situated on the first floor, are dedicated to curated exhibitions of Irish and international art - the largest gallery is 6000 sq.ft with 17ft. ceilings. Galleries II and III are 1500sq.ft each. The Ashford Gallery, located on the ground floor, is 1100 sq.ft in size. The Ashford Gallery is a service to artists who do not have commercial representation in Dublin and is designed to introduce artists to the collecting public and prove their commercial viability. This building is the home of the annual RHA exhibition as well as the Academy's retrospective shows of Irish painting and Irish sculpture. The Academy possesses a large collection of artworks, but this is not kept on permanent display.
Refurbishment of Ely Place
The Royal Hibernian Academy closed its Ely Place doors in November 2007 to permit a major new development of its headquarters. The idea was to create a 21st Century facility for the artist, the public and the artworks themselves.
In 2009 the doors re-opened and a beautiful state of the art building emerged. The Academy now boasts large reception areas, an Atrium and a better walk-way arrangement for its three principal galleries. Plus, there is a new 9000 sq ft studio complex on the rear roof, housing three group studios, four individual studios, a reference library, common room and administration office. The art studios are for younger or emerging artists to develop their skills in drawing and fine art painting. These younger painters and artists will be guided by professional artists in technical and professional techniques. It is hoped that the new art studio complex will act as a melting pot for the continuance of traditional methods and techniques in drawing and oil painting. There is also a new bookshop and cafe for visitors. The building was refaced with white stone, its footpath level windows moved out to the buildings edge. This new appearance has provided a more attractive street presence and the addition of new lighting makes the building a beacon at night time.
The 179th RHA Annual Exhibition (2009)
Due to last year's record-breaking attendance figures, this year's Royal Hibernian Academy Exhibition was extended by an extra 4 weeks. The 2009 exhibition showed work from artists in the disciplines of painting, print, photography, sculpture, drawing and photography. Art works displayed come from academicians, invited artists and emerging artists. This year invited artists included Martin Healy, Nevan Lahart, William McKeown, Isabel Nolan, Mark OKelly, Paul Seawright, Ulrich Vogl and Margaret Corcoran.
As usual, visitors viewed new artworks by academicians including sculptors Michael Quane RHA, Imogen Stuart RHA, Carolyn Mulholland RHA and Eilís OConnell RHA, and painters Peter Collis RHA, Mick ODea RHA, Carey Clarke PPRHA, Richard Gorman RHA, Martin Gale RHA and Barbara Warren RHA.
2009 RHA Prize Winners
THE HENNESSY CRAIG SCHOLARSHIP
Friends Of The Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA)
To assist the RHA in its mission to promote Irish fine art, the Academy has a fund-raising system of "Friends." Under this system, art-lovers and well-wishers may donate a relatively small sum towards the RHA's activities in supporting Irish painters and sculptors, and in return may receive a number of privileges. If you are an art collector, art-lover or simply wish to support fine arts in Ireland, this is a wonderful way to make a positive contribution.
Become A Friend of The Royal Hibernian Academy
Established in 1997, the number of Friends has since grown to more than 800 and their generosity continues to enhance the life of the Academy. Their contributions are directed towards the continuous upgrading of facilities, (witness the massive new refurbishment of the RHA headquarters in Dublin) as well as the production of new exhibitions and education programs.
As a Friend of the Academy you are helping the longest established visual arts organisation in Ireland: an organisation that advances the value of traditional as well as innovative approaches to creating art and aims to bring artists and Friends together to enjoy and appreciate beautiful pictures and sculptures.
Friends of The Royal Hibernian Academy enjoy many privileges, including invitations to all exhibition openings, an exclusive invitation to the Varnishing Day of the RHA Annual Exhibition, a quarterly newsletter giving the latest news from the Academy, and a lively program of social and educational events.
Categories Of Friends
Individual Friend: €50
Other categories include:
Membership of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA)
Full or Associate membership of the RHA is a signal achievement for any Irish painter or sculptor. Indeed, the list of previous members reads like a roll-call of the greatest artists in Ireland, and the Academy has, over the years, inspired tremendous loyalty among its members and the art-loving public. Here is the list of members, as of Jan 2009. (For the latest list, please visit the RHA website).
Full Members of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA)
Stephen Mckenna, President
Associate Members Of The Royal Hibernian Academy (ARHA)
Associate Members Of The Royal Hibernian
Honorary Council Of The Royal Hibernian Academy (HRHA)
Dr. Peter Harbison, (Professor Of Archaeology)
For more details about the exhibitions,
or Friends of the RHA, contact:
For facts about the art industry
in Ireland, see: Art Encyclopedia.
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