Hugh and Frank go to gaol

Dot writes: on Saturday I decided to ditch my Society of Recorder Players meeting in favour of spending some time with my family. So obviously we had to undertake some kind of stressful cultural outing to justify this. I was inclined to go to the Irish Museum of Modern Art while Ken wanted to go to Kilmainham Gaol. In the event we did both, as they’re pretty much next door to each other and we had to book a tour to visit the gaol, meaning we had to go there first and then fill in a couple of hours. And even though the walk down the long path to the gallery was enlivened by Hugh lamenting how this was the worst day of his life and nobody understands him, the afternoon actually went very well.

We hadn’t been to IMMA before so we just visited the two main galleries on the first floor. One had a mix of materials but I particularly liked the kinetic art, of which I think the item below is an example. I didn’t have the wit to photograph the description and get a record of what it was called.

20150221_141530

The other gallery had an exhibition called ‘Primal Architecture’. This was a slightly difficult exhibition to visit with children as there were several displays that involved objects on the floor, which were obviously inviting to small hands; but generally it was very enjoyable exploring the galleries with the boys, who were intrigued by all the different pictures, objects and installations.

Then we went to the cafe. This was a very necessary pause before going back over to the Gaol.

The Gaol is a cold and intimidating place. Pictures in guidebooks don’t convey how oppressively bare and dingy and cramped much of it feels, or how ricketty the boards are in the open walkways. The tour was excellent, covering a mix of social and political history, and giving plenty of attention to the 1916 Rising without letting it overwhelm all the other material. The guide joked with the boys and made us feel they were welcome on a tour clearly aimed at adults, but I removed Frank rather before the end as he was more than slightly restive. Hugh, however, stayed the distance and was solemnly attentive to all the dreadful tales of the past. Afterwards he said he had preferred the gaol to the art gallery. So did Ken, though I liked the art best myself.

Frank’s favourite part was the cafe…

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8 thoughts on “Hugh and Frank go to gaol

    1. Dot

      So it is! When the guide at the Gaol was talking to Frankie he pointed out he had a chocolate moustache. I had *tried* to rub it off…but Frank’s aim seems to be to have a chocolate moustache for as long as it takes him to grow a moustache of hair.

  1. Mairi Jay

    “Hugh . . . . said he had preferred the gaol to the art gallery. So did Ken, though I liked the art best myself.” Big surprise.

    I would have preferred the gaol because of imagining all the emotional drama stored within its cold and gloomy walls.

    1. Dot

      Well, yes, I preferred the thing I had chosen and Ken the thing he had chosen! But we did all genuinely enjoy IMMA – it wasn’t just me going “look darlings, marvel at the Culture” and the boys scuffing their heels and whinging. I love visiting galleries of modern art, even though I don’t like everything I find in them – there is so much space for curiosity and imagination, and a freedom to react in one’s own way. Even as someone who tremendously values the achievements of the past and historically informed approaches, and who isn’t afraid of ‘high’ culture, I like the lack of reverence around contemporary materials; there’s no sense that one is being a cretin if one happens not to like something. I also enjoy seeing weird stuff.

  2. Mairi Jay

    Hi Dot, I didn’t mean to put you on the defensive. My comment was more intended as support for the uncouth preferences of Andrew, Hugh and Frank.

    But it was also, as you quite correctly imply, shaped by memories of dragging around museums and art galleries after my parents on our occasional visits to Europe from Africa. I hated those outings: vast, echoing, impersonal and forbidding rooms with a few pictures scattered here and there imperiously demanding attention. I could never see why they were so imperiously demanding attention. The atmosphere of museums and art galleries was always so repressive and authoritarian. Voices are hushed; floors are clean and empty, no running around; no touching; often there is not even seating; there may be guards; and receptionists at the entrance always look so decorous and proper. Because of these chilling memories I generally keep well away from art galleries and museums. So I perfectly understand if Frank finds them difficult – I did, because I was not reacting to the items being show-cased but to the whole atmosphere of being in a controlled and controlling environment.

    By the way, I can definitely see the awesome subtlety and beauty in Lant.

    1. Dot

      I think these days galleries are much more aware of trying to be welcoming spaces for lots of different sorts of people, including children. Frank preferred cake, but he also liked a lot of the art. There was the issue of him having to be told not to touch but it didn’t become upsetting.

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