Campaign Newsletter - January 2017

March 24, 2017

Renovated Gallery named in honor of Harriet Irving

On September 7, 2016, Irving family members, friends, and special guests celebrated the renovation of an exhibition and orientation space at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with an official dedication of the Harriet Irving Gallery, a celebration of its inaugural exhibition, and an unveiling of a plaque commemorating the gift. The project was funded by a gift from James, Arthur, the late John Irving and their families, and named in honour of their mother. The gift included funds for a renovation of the physical space as well as endowment funding for ongoing programming.

Harriet Irving and her husband Kenneth were good friends of Sir Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook), and they had a strong respect for one another. She served as a member of the inaugural Board of Governors of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery when it opened in 1959. Harriet Irving enjoyed visiting the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and the Gallery is proud to see her contributions honoured with this space bearing her name.

“Our mother was a lifelong supporter of the arts and the Beaverbrook Art Gallery,” says Arthur Irving. “We’re very proud to celebrate her memory and legacy in a place that meant so much to her and our family.”

The renovation included a modernization and update of the former British Gallery, now the Harriet Irving Gallery, as well as a renovation of the foyer and orientation gallery. The latter part of this renovation involved a significant visual and structural change to the building, raising the floor level over four-and-a-half feet in the process.

The inaugural exhibition, A Tribute to Harriet Irving: Early Highlights from the Permanent Collection, presented a selection of some of the outstanding treasures that were acquired in the first years of the Gallery’s operation, during which Harriett Irving was a member of the Board of Governors. These gifts helped establish the Gallery’s early identity as a collections-based institution committed to serving community, an identity which has been maintained over the nearly six decades of the Gallery’s existence.

Gallery Director/CEO Terry Graff says, “The revitalization of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is aimed at enriching life in New Brunswick by presenting world-class collections, exhibitions and public programs to their fullest potential. To this end, we are sincerely grateful to James, Arthur, and the late John Irving and their families for their outstanding public-mindedness and generous support. We are very pleased to officially honour Harriet Irving through the establishment of the Harriet Irving Gallery, our newly refurbished, state-of-the art gallery designed for connecting people through art.”

Sir James Dunn Foundation supports Dalí Gallery with $750,000 gift

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery is pleased to accept this very generous gift from the Sir James Dunn Foundation to support the creation of the Dalí Gallery, a purpose-built space to showcase the extraordinary genius of the prominent Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí . The Dalí Gallery will surely become a popular focal point for our many visitors to engage with the monumental and iconic Santiago El Grande – a signature work of art for the Gallery – and various other exquisite paintings by the artist.

- Terry Graff, Director/CEO

Conceived in a dream, Salvador Dalí’s Santiago El Grande depicts Saint James the Great, the patron saint of Spain, rising from the sea astride a white stallion and brandishing a large crucifix in his role as mediator between the earthly and heavenly realms as he escorts Christ to heaven. Originally exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion of the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, it entered the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s permanent collection in 1959 at the Gallery’s inception, when it was donated by Lady Dunn on behalf of the Sir James Dunn Foundation. Today, as the signature work of art of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, it serves as a “destination painting,” beckoning people from around the world to travel to New Brunswick to see it, and now, thanks to a $750,000 gift from the Sir James Dunn Foundation it will be featured in a Gallery dedicated to works by Dalí in the new Pavilion.

Located on the south corner of the Pavilion, and characterized by simplicity and imagination, the Dalí Gallery will be tailored to the heroic scale and proportions of the painting and feature a unique use of natural light, special seating, and an area in front of the painting where visitors can experience its unusual optical effects by lying on the floor. There will be ways to access interpretive information about the painting and its layered symbolism, including Dalí’s theory of “nuclear mysticism”.

The Dalí Gallery will also include a special installation of Dalí’s portraits of Sir James Dunn and Lady Dunn: La Turbie: Sir James Dunn, 1949, and Equestrian Fantasy: Lady Dunn, 1954, both of which are on permanent loan to the Gallery from the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation. The Dunns developed a close friendship with Dalí in the late 1940s and became avid supporters of his work. In La Turbie, Sir James Dunn is portrayed draped in a gold toga, as Dalí thought he resembled Augustus Caesar. In Equestrian Fantasy, which was inspired by Lady Dunn’s passion for show and race horses, the artist chose to depict his subject nobly sitting side-saddle on a palomino horse with a falcon perched on her gloved arm.

Michael Doyle, a trustee of the Sir James Dunn Foundation says the Foundation’s relationship with the Art Gallery has been long and fruitful from their perspective.

“It has given us great pleasure to see the Gallery grow and contribute to our province over many years. Our part has been to support the Gallery in a small way.”

“I have worked with the Sir James Dunn Foundation since 2003,” says Bernard Riordon, Director Emeritus, “and my association with Michael Doyle and the late Tom Taylor and other foundation trustees over the years has always been positive. Their leadership has kept the legacy of Sir James Dunn and Lady Dunn alive with their generous support to many of the Gallery’s endeavours.”

Riordon, who provides overall leadership to the Beaverbrook Campaign, said the Gallery was especially grateful for the foundation’s public-spirited generosity in support of the campaign. “We have common threads of past history, but are very pleased that the Sir James Dunn Foundation, with their gift of $750,000, supports our vision for the Gallery’s future, as well.”