Wednesday 12 December 2018

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Cobh artist displayed at National Gallery

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018 4:57pm

A Cork artist who had his work unveiled at the National Gallery of Ireland this week has called it “the greatest achievement” for an artist.

Cobh native Jack Hickey had his piece, a portrait of state pathologist and forensic medicine academic Professor Marie Cassidy, put on display at the Gallery this week.

The striking oil on canvas was commissioned by the Gallery as part of the Hennessy Portrait Prize 2017, won by Mr Hickey. It is the latest addition to the Gallery’s National Portrait Collection, which showcases contemporary art practice and acknowledges individuals who have made major inputs to Irish life.

Professor Cassidy was chosen to sit for the portrait in recognition of her contribution to Irish science.

Speaking to the Cork Independent about his accolade, Mr Hickey said: “Any time I go up to Dublin, I take a few minutes to go in to the National Gallery and see the works displayed over the years, the likes of Caravaggio’s ‘The Taking of Christ’, works by Vermeer etc. To know that one of your works is in the same building as some of these masters is probably the greatest achievement for a painter like myself. To get that recognition that your work is good enough to be there...the prize money is great, but the big prize is having your work in the National Gallery.”

Mr Hickey, a graduate of CIT’s Crawford Art College, says the portrait of Professor Cassidy, who is renowned for her work assisting investigations into hundreds of suspicious deaths in Ireland over the years, was done with the aim of removing obvious indications of her profession.

“Professor Cassidy is quite well known already, so my approach was to produce a painting showing Professor Cassidy in a different light. I didn’t want her in a white coat, wearing a rubber glove, or with forensic materials around. I wanted an engaging portrait where the sitter is at the forefront, and which catches people’s eye and encourages them to get closer and look at the detail, and see things you wouldn’t see just from a jpeg image.”

The portrait of Professor Cassidy will hang in Room 23 of the Gallery alongside those of All-Ireland winning Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, world-renowned fashion designer John Rocha and best-selling author Maeve Binchy.

“It is a tremendous honour to have my portrait hang in the National Gallery of Ireland, and to share wall space with such iconic figures,” Professor Cassidy said.

"I’m touched and thrilled that this painting will be seen by the hundreds of thousands who visit the National Gallery of Ireland each year, and I want to thank Jack Hickey for his talent and patience in capturing the piece.”

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