MATISSE IRISH LINEN WALL HANGINGS HANG IN THE ULSTER MUSEUM

HENRI MATISSE

‘OCEANIE, LE CIEL’, 1946

‘OCEANIE, LA MER’ 1946

As you know we are totally obsessed with Irish Linen, and it was a real treat to learn that our Ulster Museum had some textile masterpieces by Matisse hidden away. I know from my days behind the scenes at the museum that unfortunately a good majority of the National Museums of Northern Ireland’s treasures don’t get to be displayed for public viewing as their collections are so vast.

These wall hangings were brought out this Autumn showing us just what stunning creations have been made from this unique fabric of our heritage. 

He made them late in his career when illness prevented him from painting, his iconic use of simple cut out shapes depicting plants, animals, figures, in this case marine life and birds, were a product of his unusual use of scissors to transform his vision during his last decade of art. They float peacefully suggesting a feeling of freedom, lightness and space. It’s been documented that they represented a time he had experienced when swimming in the South Seas in 1930.  

This screen print on linen series was produced in collaboration with Zita Ascher, a London printer who coincidently worked with lots of art’s greats at the time on commercial scarves.

The linen was supplied by Lamont of Ballymena and The Belfast Silk and Rayon Company was commissioned to formulate the dye to replicate the exact colour of the wallpaper in Matisse’s bedroom. It was an edition of 30 and these 2 were an extra pair kept as an ‘artist’s proof’ by the chemist Dr Gisa Gewing who formulated the inks and purchased by the Ulster Museum on her death. 

I think the overwhelming scale, delicate compositions and neutral colour palate carry you away to a momentary state of tranquility and calmness. I think they are superb and I’m very glad I got to see them. 

 

(Photo credit black and white: taken from beuro247.com)

 

 


Posted by Katie Larmour