Yeats and Synge in the congested districts

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 4 (Jul/Aug 2005), News, News, Volume 13

In 1905 Jack B. Yeats was commissioned by the Manchester Guardian to illustrate a series of articles by John Millington Synge on the condition of the poorest parts of Ireland—Connemara and Mayo. Together the two men toured what were then known as the ‘congested districts’, dispatching regular articles and illustrations back to Britain. To mark the centenary of this wonderful partnership, the Model Arts and Niland Gallery will mount a mixed media exhibition bringing together many of Yeats’s original drawings for the first time since they were commissioned. Most of these illustrations have been in private collections for the last century and so have not been available to the general public. Also on view will be a number of Yeats’s original sketchbooks, dating from 1905. These form a visual diary of Yeats’s travels in Galway and Mayo, and illustrate the progression of the artist’s ideas, from his initial experience with the people of the west to his final illustrations for the Guardian. The show will also include the screening of To the Western World, a dramatised documentary about the Yeats and Synge collaboration, directed by Margy Kinmonth and narrated by John Huston. Yeats’s tour of the west greatly influenced his work as a painter, and he returned to the scenes he experienced there again and again throughout his career. The show will coincide with the Model’s summertime exhibition, which will showcase the very best of the Niland collection and include a large number of works by Jack B. Yeats and his father, John Butler Yeats. The exhibition is curated by Emer McGarry, the Visual Arts Assistant at the Model.


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