The end of the week saw a couple of interesting pieces of news in the Irish Times. The sorry state of our banks and financial world in general requires no further commenting, but it seems that the artworld may potentially end up at least somewhat benefiting from the whole mess.
NAMA is going to donate to the National Gallery a painting by John Lavery entitled The Return from Market, in return for the storage in the gallery of the art collection of Derek Quinlan, seized in the process of being sold by the Agency. Apparently NAMA is going to offer the collection for sale to the National Gallery, the Office of Public Works and IMMA, before they go on the open market. Obviously I would have liked to see more paintings being donated to the various art institutions, but who knows what is yet going to happen.
Speaking of future unknowns, the other very interesting item I picked up was the reported desire of the Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan to convert the Bank of Ireland branch on College Green into a world literature centre celebrating the city's literary heritage. The bank, naturally, resists any handing over of the building or its use as anything else as a (struggling) financial institution. I love the idea of such a historically significant building, in such a central location, being used as an arts centre. They have already had arts events in the past, so in a way, there is almost something of a precedent. I remember fondly a Christmas market held in the colonnade, two years ago. The setting gave the event a lovely pseudo-Victorian feel. I think that the Minister's plans have huge potential and I hope they will come to fruition. Goodness knows that right around now it looks like that the Arts may well end up being more beneficial to the state than the various financial institutions.