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Opening 10th July - Alison Pilkington; I Build My Own Island. ⁠
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Through a series of interconnecting paintings, drawings and artists books Pilkington has produced a show at The Model that explores her connections to Sligo. ⁠
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We can't wait to share this exhibition with you.
Children can explore our new salty series of Make & Create activities each week. ⁠
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'Make Your Own Ship in a Bottle' is inspired by ships in bottles which Jack B Yeats made out of small pieces of wood and fabric. link in bio
Jack B. Yeats (1871-1957)⁠
Wooden Storage Case lined with Watercolour Drawings⁠
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The Model presents this treasure chest of imagination and creativity from the mind of Jack B. Yeats. This wooden storage case, which is currently on display as part of Salt Water Ballads, was purchased for The Model by a private donor from the Yeats Family Sale at Sotheby’s in 2017 along with the artist’s collection of model boats. Stowed inside the lid, are nineteen original watercolour drawings dated between 1912 and 1913. The illustrations stemmed from a storytelling collaboration between Jack B. Yeats and John Masefield. Hilary Pyle writes in Jack B. Yeats – A Biography, ‘With the poet John Masefield, Yeats built up a juvenile drama of the high seas and piracy that Masefield incorporated into his poetry, Yeats used for illustrative purposes, and later employed as subject-matter for some of his finest oils’.⁠
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In April 1903 Masefield spent two weeks in the South Devon homestead of Jack and his wife, Mary Cottenham Yeats. From the residence, Masefield wrote to his future wife ‘We were up late last night writing Cashlauna ballads [most likely a nod to the name of the Yeats’ cottage - Cashlauna Shelmiddy (“Snail’s Castle”)] … I made two or three about a scoundrel named Theodor [sic] who comes into an old penny dreadful that is Sunday reading here.’ The character Theodore can be seen in three of the nineteen illustrations, on the top right corner looking out to sea as a vessel perilously struggles beneath a storm, one further depiction shows Theodore looking pensively as the masts of a ship swing in the wind behind his shoulder, while another shows Theodore donning a captain’s hat and is titled, ‘Theodore of The Gulf’.⁠
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Other works are titled ‘Old Style in the Gara Valley’ and ‘The Theo in the Sargasso Sea July 29th 1912’. Thanks to the recent conversation work, supported by the Heritage Council, it has recently been revealed that some drawings were pasted on top of earlier hand painted decorations. Following the completion of these works, all of the restored watercolours, the collection of model boats, and the wooden case itself is now on display as part of Salt Water Ballads.⁠
Jack Butler Yeats (1971 – 1957) grew up in Sligo, in the care of his maternal grandparents Elizabeth & William Pollexfen. From an early age the young artist was steeped in the rich sea-faring culture of the area, where the ocean connected a small town on Europe’s western periphery with the enigmatic outside world. Throughout Yeats long career as an artist, this fascination with the drama and mystique of the ocean remained a constant amongst his many abiding artistic themes.⁠
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One of the Make and Create activities on our website encourages children to 'Make Your Own Pirate Map' inspired by A chart of Pirate Island by Yeats Jack B. Yeats. Link in bio.⁠
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Photo credit: Daniel Paul McDonald ⁠
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#saltwaterballads⁠
#sligo⁠
#NilandCollection⁠
Jack Butler Yeats’ own collection of model boats were generously gifted to The Model in 2018 by a private donor, and were conserved thanks to support from the Heritage Council in 2020.⁠
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We are delighted to have them on display for the first time as part of Salt Water Ballads to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jack Butler Yeats in his home town of Sligo. ⁠
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Opening hours are Tuesday - Saturday 11am - 5pm.

Photo by Daniel Paul MacDonald
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