Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum in Hamden, Connecticut is home to the world’s largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the starvation and forced emigration that occurred throughout Ireland from 1845 to 1850. Works by noted contemporary Irish artists are featured, as well as a number of important 19th and 20th-century paintings. Begun in 1997, this dynamic collection continues to grow.
The museum offers a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the largely unrepresented, unspoken and unresolved causes and consequences of this tragedy, as well as to appreciate the art that it continues to inspire.
The Irish Times: “William Faulkner’s maxim that “the past is never dead; it’s not even past” could be the museum’s motto. Its exhibition shows how representations of the Famine have followed the classic stages of grief: from awareness of what was transpiring to repression of memory due to guilt, shame and the impossibility of conveying its scale and horror. More recently, expressions of bereavement and recrimination have given way to a search for broader relevance.
There are no known photographs of the Famine, but the haunting drawings commissioned from the Irish artist James Mahony by the London Illustrated News were the equivalent of today’s newspaper photos: children scrounging for food; evicted peasants wandering country roads; a deserted village which Mahony described as “like the tombs of a departed race, rather than the recent abodes of a yet living people”.
Read on at The Irish Times.
Related: The Art of Survival – International and Irish Quilts