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Advisory group will attempt to 'achieve gender balance' in Leinster House artworks

Plans for the display of some modern artworks to liven up parts of Leinster House are also under consideration.

Image: Shutterstock/EQRoy

LEINSTER HOUSE HAS set up a new group that will look at gender balance in the artworks that decorate the houses of parliament.

An advisory working group on portraiture and other artworks has been created to advise on selection and acquisition of artworks for display in parliament.

Among its goals will be an attempt to “achieve gender balance” in the commissioning, display, and acquisition of paintings to adorn Leinster House.

Also under consideration is a plan to find a suitable location to display an Irish flag that was presented to the Irish people by President John F Kennedy.

The new advisory group will be made up of five TDs including the Ceann Comhairle, three Senators including the Cathaoirleach, the art advisor of the Office of Public Works (OPW), and three Oireachtas officials.

It set four conditions for its work including gender balance, finding a home for the JFK flag, and leaving responsibility for art choices in the private offices of officeholders to the officeholder themselves.

It also said responsibility for selection of art for display in the Dáil and Seanad chambers would lie with the chair of either house in consultation with the OPW art advisor and an Oireachtas committee.

An Oireachtas Commission meeting also detailed a list of other guidelines for artworks including the continuation of the practice of displaying portraits of all Taoisigh in Leinster House once they retire from the Oireachtas.

It said portraits of former Tánaistí should also be displayed and that pictures painted after the person had passed away sometimes led to pictures that were “not as successful artistically”.

The guidelines said: “For this reason, photographic portraits of Tánaistí are recommended.

This series of photographic portraits could be advantageously grouped in one location in Leinster House. Installation of these portraits will adhere to the same principle as portraits of Taoisigh and Cinn Comhairle.

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The advisory group guidelines said the commissioning of mixed media portraits of the Ceann Comhairle would continue, and that display of framed photos of Cathaoirligh and Leaders of the Seanad should continue too.

It also said a portrait of the serving President should continue to be displayed, “subject to the prior consent of that President”.

Guidelines suggested that historic portraits of “fine artistic quality or special political significance” should be acquired if an opportunity arises.

Also under consideration are plans for the display of some modern artworks – other than portraits – to liven up parts of Leinster House, such as the dining rooms.

The guidelines said: “The highest artistic standards should be aimed for in all art works situated in the Houses of the Oireachtas. Installation of all artworks should be as harmonious as possible given the limited spaces available in Leinster House.”

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Ken Foxe

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