Jack B. Yeats’ artistic output reveals a fascination with characters that lived on the margins of society – those who in his own words had “something of the living ginger of life in them.” Over a career spanning seven decades, Yeats repeatedly painted the tramps, travellers, circus performers, drunks, sailors and gypsies that populated his youth in Sligo. These characters are often represented as lone figures in scenes that set them apart from the rest of society.

Yeats watercolour period lasted twelve years; starting in 1898 and coming to an abrupt end when he moved into oils in 1910. This exhibition looks at the characters that populated his early work in watercolours. These works, as with his early experiments with oils in the 1920s, and his later wildly romantic, apocalyptic visions of the forties and fifties – often have at their heart a sense of dislocation and displacement. It is from these early works that the roots of his later mystical and allegorical works in oil began to grow.

This exhibition is an exploration of Yeats beginnings as an artist in the watercolour medium and it examines themes and techniques which developed throughout his career. The same themes will be examined in greater depth in a major exhibition entitled Jack B Yeats; The Outsider guest curated by Brian O’Doherty which will open on 5 February 2011.

The Yeatsian Legacy Project is delivered by Sligo Arts Service, The Model & partners. The project is supported by the PEACE III Programme, managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Sligo County Council on behalf of Sligo Peace & Reconciliation Partnership Committee.

In association with Fáilte Ireland


Current Exhibitions