George Wallace prints exhibited for the first time in Ireland in new exhibition

Monotype print of bust-length portrait of a woman
George Wallace (1920–2009), Young Woman in a Striped Dress, 1993. © Estate of George Wallace and CARCC, 2019. Photo © National Gallery of Ireland

Opening on 11 September 2020, the National Gallery of Ireland presents George Wallace: Reflections on Life.

On view for the first time in Ireland, this selection of over 60 artworks is drawn from the large collection presented to the Gallery by the Wallace family in 2016. The exhibition marks 100 years since the artist’s birth.  

Born in Dublin, but based in Canada for most of his life, George Wallace (1920–2009) was a significant artist and influential educator who created powerful prints and sculptures throughout his career. He was a deep thinker who published insightful writings on art.

In September 2015, Kit Wallace, the artist’s son, visited the National Gallery of Ireland bringing a sample selection of George Wallace’s prints with him. The following year, the Gallery accepted the Wallace family’s generous gift of some 250 etchings, woodcuts, monoprints and drawings by George Wallace.

Born in Sandycove in 1920, George Wallace studied theology and philosophy at Trinity College Dublin in the early 1940s. He lived in the UK for several years, teaching at Falmouth School of Art, before emigrating to Canada where he continued his teaching career to become Professor of Fine Art at McMaster University, Ontario. For most of his adult life, Wallace specialised in printmaking and sculpture. 

The exhibition features etchings, monotypes, woodcuts and drawings. These works on paper, drawn from a prolific career of over 50 years, include early abstract etchings and preparatory drawings inspired by the clay pits at St Austell in Cornwall, and a series of monoprint ‘heads’, inspired by photos of newly promoted business executives featured in Globe & Mail (Canada’s national newspaper) in the 1980s.

At times humorous, and always insightful, the work of George Wallace is both personal and universal. Through powerful imagery the artist comments on everything from the boredom of suburban life to human vulnerability and ageing. 

Anne Hodge, curator of the exhibition, added: "George Wallace‘s skilfully made etchings, monoprints and drypoints reflect his philosophical outlook, wry sense of humour and changing attitudes to life. His comments on Hogarth could easily describe his own work: ‘He thought of his prints and paintings as mirrors in which the people of the time might see themselves reflected … in their sometimes grim, sometimes humorous surfaces we may perhaps still find something of ourselves reflected back to us.'”

George Wallace: Reflections on Life is on view until 13 December 2020. For those who cannot attend the Gallery in person, visit the Gallery's website for virtual tours of the collection including exhibitions and iconic spaces such as the Shaw Room and the Grand Gallery. 

Media contact
Emma Pearson, Communications, National Gallery of Ireland | [email protected] / 087 918 7941

What: George Wallace: Reflections on Life
When: 11 September – 13 December 2020
Venue: National Gallery of Ireland (Print Gallery), Entry via Merrion Square West, Dublin 2.
Admission: Free

About George Wallace
George Wallace was born in in Sandycove, County Dublin, and grew up in nearby Killiney. He went to school at St Columba’s College, and was interested in art from a young age (he had vivid memories of a school visit to the home of avant-garde artist May Guinness). Wallace graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in philosophy and a teaching diploma. On leaving Trinity, he got a job as a teacher in Radley College, near Oxford in the UK. After a few years he enrolled in the West of England College of art in Bristol. He later taught printmaking at Falmouth School of Art. His abstract lithographs and etchings from that time recall the work of the St Ives School. Although he rarely showed his work in public exhibitions, Wallace excelled as a printmaker. In 1957, Wallace emigrated with his wife, Margaret, and young family to Canada. Victor Waddington, who had shown Wallace’s work in Dublin, gave him an introduction to his brother George, who had recently opened a gallery in Montreal. Gradually, George Wallace established himself; he ended his career as Professor of Fine Art at McMaster University, Ontario. 

About the National Gallery of Ireland
The National Gallery of Ireland is one of the country’s most popular visitor attractions housing the nation’s collection of European and Irish art from about 1300 to the present day, and an extensive Library & Archive. Entry to the collection is free for all to enjoy, learn and be inspired.

Supporting the National Gallery of Ireland
The Gallery is home to Ireland’s national collection of fine art, and seeks to share the wonders of that collection in a welcoming, inclusive and accessible way with visitors from both Ireland and overseas. There are many ways to support the work of the National Gallery of Ireland, as a Friend, a Patron, an Individual Donor or a Corporate Sponsor. Remembering the Gallery in your will is a wonderful way to make a lasting contribution for the benefit of future generations. You can help the Gallery to build on the achievements of over 150 years, to consolidate its position as a Gallery of international standing, and to reach out to as many people as possible to share the joys of Ireland’s national collection of fine art. Contact the Development Department for more details at [email protected] or by phoning +353 (0)1 6633500.

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