Great Food Makes Great Art | Norah McGuinness


Art and food merge in this superb visual by Norah McGuinness, from the magnificent art collection of Bill Kelly of Kelly’s Resort Hotel. We learn a little about the painting and what it means to Bill,and we transport ourselves right into the scene for a spot of beach foraging!

In our blog series which connects art to food, we ask Good Food Ireland member Bill Kelly, fine food lover, long standing family hotelier at Kelly’s Resort and Spa, and collector of superb art, to choose a piece which best represents this time of year from the hotel’s magnificent art collection. ‘Sand Pools’ is a beautiful painting by Derry born artist Norah McGuinness. It is among the collection on display in the public areas of the hotel. An appropriate piece for this family run luxury accommodation and fine dining destination, reflecting Kelly’s superb beachside location in coastal Wexford. Kelly’s two restaurants are aptly named Beaches and La Marine.

We asked Bill to tell us a little about the painting and what it means to him. He says, The Norah McGuiness paintings are part of the original collection which were acquired by my parents through the Arts Council Hotels Joint Purchase Scheme in 1972. My late Father Billy and my Mother Breda had a great passion for art, they always bought, even when they could least afford it, and their collecting habits were assisted by an Arts Council Scheme, which in the 1960’s helped hotels to put the works of Irish artists in the public eye. After my father died in 1977, my mother purchased the twenty works we had on show from the Council scheme outright, and we have been adding to the collection ever since. To me these paintings are part of a very seminal and special collection, one close to my heart!’

Bill’s fondness for this painting is evident and we think it’s a perfect choice for the foodies among us this time of year. Great beach walks make great appetites! We can transport ourselves right into this scene, enjoying the simple pleasures of a beach stroll, armed with a basket to pluck bits of sea lettuce which float in on the gentle waves lapping up on the tide, and search for signs of razor clams which might be buried deep in the sand around those picturesque pools with their sea bird occupants!

To tell you a little more about the artist, Norah McGuinness was a pivotal figure in the history of Irish Modernism. She trained at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin, under renowned artists Patrick Tuohy and Harry Clarke. McGuinness travelled to Paris in 1929, where she enrolled at the school of Cubist painter Andre lhôte. From the 1940’s onwards, her subject matter was predominantly centred on the Irish landscape. ‘Sand Pools’ conveys the distinctive terrain and biodiversity of the coastal wetlands at Sandymount Strand, Dublin, a familiar source of inspiration for the artist. As Bill says, this is one of twenty of Norah McGuinness’s works, which can be viewed when you visit the hotel.