Response to ‘re-naming of Sligo Gallery is absurd’

On Saturday August 15th the Irish Independent published an article titled ‘Re-naming of Sligo gallery is absurd’ by Bruce Arnold regarding the name change of The Model. Today in the Irish Independent Director/Curator of The Model Seamus Kealy responds to Bruce’s comment.
“Bruce Arnold’s article (Saturday, August 15) concerning The Model’s renaming broaches the new direction for Sligo’s cultural flagship.

He writes that research for the renaming isn’t recorded in the Gallery Board Meeting minutes of April 28, when the decision was made, and continues, “the pushing through of the decision, with such a small attendance, is most unsatisfactory”.

The process began, actually, in January 2009; was raised and discussed in detail at the February board meeting (duly minuted); followed by a consultation process, and then decided at the April board meeting.

Mr Arnold refers to The Model as “The Sligo Art Gallery”. To clarify, The Model is a different entity from the Sligo Art Gallery. This confusion is indicative of our identity issues, which is exactly why we are rebranding.

Mr Arnold states that the title, The Model, “has no meaning at all”. However, The Model doesn’t necessarily need a stable identity. The Model is unique as a hub of culture — it is a gallery, it houses a cinema and artists’ studios, it showcases the Niland Collection; it is a multi-faceted organisation in a wondrous building with an artistic vision to engage in cultural production, responding to all audiences inclusively.

Thus “having no meaning at all” is complimentary, in a way, because The Model engages in creating meaning via contemporary art and its discourses.

Artists, participants and audiences alike bring the meaning, as in the recent exhibition ‘Medium Religion’.

However, The Model references the building and is ingrained in the local imagination. It was the usual contraction of the previous unwieldy moniker, The Model Arts and Niland Gallery, and is easily remembered.

Our new identity includes ‘Home of the Niland Collection’. We are here presenting ourselves internationally while retaining local resonances, warmly and prominently emphasising the collection. A ‘Story of Nora Niland’ is also being presented on our website and alongside collection exhibitions. The Sligo County Library was invited to collaborate on this story, since Ms Niland worked in this capacity.

Organisations change, despite their ongoing relationships to their locality. The judgment of The Model, however, should be placed on its programme in its various permutations. Our autumn programme ‘Reverse Pedagogy’ is a germane place to start.

Seamus Kealy


The Model,

Home of the Niland Collection”

Published in todays Irish Independent.