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Yeats Open Air Gallery Project

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The Aim of this project is to install the world’s first free outdoor Yeats themed Art Exhibition on the streets of Sligo town.

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The project provides a unique offering that will compliment other Yeats themed tourism objectives that are currently on offer or in the planning process.

As an initial ‘Integration’ benefit, Wine Street is the main access artery from the Train Station and Strandhill to the town centre. As the ‘Gallery’ will be outdoor, it will act as a natural ‘announcement’ that the visitor has entered the main thoroughfare and that they have ‘arrived’ in Sligo.

In addition, some buildings on the street have a significant historic connection with Yeats himself. Susan Pollexfen was Yeats’s mother and his grandfather, William Pollexfen ran the Sligo Steam & Navigation Company (Later W & G.T Pollexfen Co.) from Wine Street along with his Brother in Law, William Middleton. The Middletons also had a residence and offices on Wine Street.

At the corner of Wine Street and Adelaide Street stands the impressive stone building where the aforementioned Sligo Steam & Navigation Company traded from. This was once part of the extensive property of the Pollexfen family. During the 1860’s this building also served as the Pollexfen’s family home. The Yeats family stayed here with the poet’s grandparents for periods prior to their move to Merville (now Nazareth House). On the roof can be seen the turret from which William Pollexfen trained a telescope on his ships going in and out of port over a century ago. The Pollexfens and the Middletons were the largest ship owners in Sligo and the Middleton family had a residence on Wine Street which no doubt Yeats would also have visited on many occasions.

The Project:

Having recently secured sponsorship to fund this project, it is now in a position to progress as the world’s first free outdoor Yeats themed Art Exhibition which will be available to the public to view 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The art pieces will be located on the westerly end of Wine Street, Sligo where there are a number of premises with important historical connections with Yeats.

The pieces will be securely fixed to the outside facade of five premises with protective glass and will be illuminated for night time viewing. It is planned to erect 5 pieces of art. The size of the housing for each piece will be A3 in size with a depth of 6 inches to facilitate the art piece and the appropriate lighting.

Each piece will be collaboration between an internationally well known figure who has expressed an appreciation of Yeats and an established Artist. They will base their piece on a Yeats poem of their choice and produce a piece of art to reflect their interpretation of the poem.

The pieces will be permanently erected on the outside of various premises on Wine Street for all to view. We will produce a free booklet so that ‘visitors’ can appreciate the background to the piece and what inspired the result. Also we will highlight the significance of Wine Street to Yeats and the strong historical connection that this location has to him.

In addition we will tie in with the proposed Yeats Trail which will run from the new Yeats mural at Lord Edward Street to the Niland Gallery on The Mall. It is hoped that there will be an App for visitors to download which they can access as they make their way along the trail.

We have identified a list of potential collaborators for the project.

The artists participating in The Yeats Open Air Gallery will be carefully chosen. Among the potential artists are both internationally celebrated artists, local artists and Irish artists.  We are considering representing different generations, variation in artistic approach, and different geographical and cultural backgrounds. The artists will be given a set brief pertaining to the continuity of the project as a whole and the specifics of their creations in relation to the housing and locations available for their artworks. They will also work with one celebrity each to collaborate on the development of the celebrity’s favourite Yeats’ work into their interpretation as a finished art piece.

In addition we plan to produce a video detailing the development of each piece from its discussion phase between the collaborator and the artist to the formation and completion of the final artwork.  An example of what this might look like which one of our team produced can be seen at:

The Benefits:

  1. The project aims at linking the creativity of the wider Yeats family with the current generation of creative artists who continue to be inspired by the landscape of County Sligo.
  2. This unique initiative of an outdoor Art Gallery will be free of charge to the public and will attract international exposure.
  3. The invitation to the International known Celebrities and Artist to produce the pieces will also add to the credibility and marketability of the offering.
  4. The booklet explaining the background to the project and the location will be available free of charge and tourists will be able to refer to it as they view the pieces. We would see this as a very valuable Tourism Attraction to Sligo and the North West and will compliment other projects that are being progressed at the moment.
  5. The project fits in perfectly with the proposed Sligo Trail which incorporates Wine Street.

About Funding by Sligo Credit Union

Sligo Credit Union currently has savings of over €46 million, and a membership of 16,000 people. About 7,000 members currently benefit from loans of more than €22 million.  One of their objectives is to improve the well being of their members, and to continue to look at ways to enhance the social fabric of the Sligo Community.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary they have funded this project to create a legacy art installation for the public in their local community.

About Support by Sligo Tidy Towns

Sligo Tidy Towns is organised and run by a group of unpaid volunteers who are passionate and proud of the place they live in. Their mission in 2016 is to help Sligo continue to tap into its huge tourism potential – and to assist in developing a lasting tourism legacy off the back of what were two momentous years for Sligo – 2014 and 2015.

They are supporting the Yeats Open Air Gallery by bringing their experience and expertise to help the development of the project.