There’s a lot happening at the Harold’s Cross Community Festival this week but I’ll just tell you today about the show that I’m curating as part of it.
It’s an exhibition of portraits by local artist Dave Gleeson. (That’s one of his drawings above). He makes these meticulous, finely crafted drawings in graphite and pastel that must take an age to complete. Each piece is carefully composed using various references to tell the story of the sitter.
But the drawing above is unfinished (I unceremoniously wrested it out of his grasp for this blog post) because I wanted to show you Richard Allen, the celebrated Quaker and philanthropist who was born in 1803 at 201, Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin (seen below). It’s in a terrible state at the moment but the good news is that it has finally been agreed to fix it up.
The theme of the festival this year is diversity and inclusion. There was a great lecture about the Quakers on Tuesday evening. I’ll tell you – those Quakers got themselves into an awful lot of trouble down through the centuries for many reasons. For instance, they believed in equal status for men and women; they believed in everyone being equal in the eyes of God; they refused to pay tithes to the Anglican church; they refused to take an oath of allegiance to any monarch. I tell you: the more I hear, the more I like them!
But Richard Allen was active in movements for prison reform, the abolition of the death penalty and more particularly, for the abolition of slavery. In 1840 he attended the World’s Anti-Slavery Convention in London, the other Irish delegates being Daniel O’Connell and Richard Robert Madden. His friends included the freed slave Frederick Douglass, the temperance campaigner Fr. Theobald Mathew, the philanthropist Dr. Barnardo and the composer Thomas Moore.
And did I mention that he also raised £20,000 to help victims of the Irish Famine? His concern for the other was second to none.
His portrait can be seen alongside portraits of various Irish personalities from the literary and musical world at La Galerie Impromptu in Harold’s Cross until Sunday, the 14th of May. Well worth a visit!
And, speaking of “Concern for the Other”, there was an innovative new art project launched this week that you might like. I’ll tell you more about it next week but in the meantime, you could check out: