Margaret Walsh is a native of Limerick and graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Design degree in 1999. She was part of the original Docent program when the Hunt collection was housed in the University of Limerick. This program was initiated by Mairead Dunlevy, the first director of the Hunt Museum. As a Docent, Margaret benefited enormously from the storytelling and experiences recalled by John Hunt Jr. of growing up and living with the collection. He later became a great supporter and collector of the artist’s work.
Her work has been included in several exhibitions both in Ireland and the UK down through the years, including: The Hunt Museum, Ceramics Ireland, Contemporary Ceramics and the Crafts Council of Ireland. She is also a member of the Limerick Ceramic Artists, with whom she regularly exhibits.
Margaret’s commitment as a ceramic artist extends to the roles of art facilitator, event co-ordinator and educator. These skills are deftly illustrated in her development and delivery of projects as diverse as landmark social art installations, to bringing art and clay into schools and communities with youth art programs and classes.
Having recently rejoined the docent program in the Hunt Museum, the collection continues to be a great source of inspiration as well as a visual and academic education for Margaret. The title of this piece is taken from the Picasso painting ‘4 cats’. The plaque depicts 4 feline exhibits in the collection together with symbols, design features and architectural details both from the collection and from the 18th Century Palladian style façade of the Hunt Museum building, deigned by Italian architect Davis Ducart.
Artist Conversation will take place Wednesday, August 29th, from 12-1pm at the Hunt Museum.
The construction of this plaque represents the Hunt Museum’s riverside façade. The title of the ceramic plaque is taken from the Picasso Four Cats Menu (ref. no. MG 145) and the title card replicates the font used in the painting. The plaque also represents 4 Cats in the collection at the Hunt Museum. These cats are the Leopard Mask (ref. no. JB 008), the Japanese 19th-Century Kitten (ref. no. MG 1174+8), the Bourke Dish with butterflies and Chained Mountain Cat (ref. no. HCL 060), and the Bronze Leopard missing front legs (ref. no. MG 012), located in the study room. The Friends of the Hunt are represented by the bronze Egyptian god Horus (ref.no. MG 006). The Pegasus Brooch (ref. no. T 021), Japanese Dog (ref. no. MG 1174), Horse and Rider (ref. no. MG 139/001) are also referenced and bear the black and white pattern on the plate with Harp and Stag (ref.no. HCL 061) situated in the Captain’s Room.
The key pattern on the top of the plaque represents the key pattern in the carpet and ceiling plaster in the Captain’s Room. Also featured are the Egyptian Squatting Monkey (ref. no. MG 001), the Baboon (ref. no. MG 005), the Decorative Hand Warmer (ref. no. HCM 159), depicted over the baboon’s head, and The Large Pug Dog (ref.no. MG 113A). The shapes at the top of the plaque represents the many spearheads in the collection, (for example spearhead ref. no. HCA 345). The fluted pilasters are crowned with images of artefacts in the collection, such as the Spectacle Brooches (ref. no. HCA 504/505), and the many arrowheads on exhibit (ref. no. HCL 038). The story behind the Hunt museum’s extensive collection of spear and arrow heads goes that John Hunt Sr. found an arrowhead as a child, which sparked his lifelong interest in archaeology.
The Pigs Head (ref. no. MG 139/044), refers to a small object in the Study Room. It is used here to symbolise Limerick City, which is known as Pigtown due to the famous bacon industry which was essential to the economic and social infrastructure of the city. The base of the four pilasters have objects displayed in the museum, for example the Small Sheep (ref. no. MG 139/070), displayed in the Study Room, the gold Memento Mori skull (ref. no. MG 086), the Early Bronze Age Axehead (ref. no. HCA 226) a favourite of John Hunt Jr., and the Two Fish (ref. no. MG139/007) also in the Study Room. Above each of the three arcaded ground floor entrances are two butterflies from the Bourke Butterfly Dish and the third, a blue butterfly is perched on the wall.
In the centre arch and in pride of place is the 9th century Antrim Cross (ref. no. HCA 627). The double circles on the window sills represent the numerous Ringed Pins (ref. no. HCA 520 -523) featured in the collection, and the double circles recall the Dodecahedron (ref. no. HCM 157). The individual bricks under the pediment on the top of the plaque bear the patterns and textures of many of the exhibits, such as the Die (ref. no. HCM 210), the trilobe shapes on the Berlin Ironwork Tiara and necklace (ref. no. HCL 011), the pattern in the base of the Roman Wine Strainer (ref. no. HCA 678), and the incised groove marks on the Bronze Age Funerary Pottery (ref. no. HCA 609) among others. On the base of the plaque there are stylised river symbols representing the Shannon river flowing over the Curragower falls in front of the Hunt Museum