Edward Delaney (R.H.A.)
This talented Sculpture changed style various times during his career sculptures in Bronze, Steel, Lithographs etc. He exhibited worldwide. He was awarded the title of Mayo Man of the Year during 1965.
Edward Delaney was born on August 1st 1930 in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. His father was a woodcutter on the Estate’s of Lord Oranmore and Brown. He grew up in Farmhill, Crossboyne. By his own account, his forefathers the De Laniers were French stonemasons who immigrated to Co. Mayo during the mid–19th century. He recalled growing up “Surrounded by stone fireplaces made by my Grandfather.” He returned to Ireland and married Nancy O’Brien from Cootehill, Co. Cavan, during 1961 they lived in Dunlaoghaire Co. Dublin. They had four sons plus one daughter. Following the marriage break up, he moved to Carroroe in Co. Galway. There he met partner Dr. Anne Gillen with whom he had another daughter and son. Delaney was a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), and Aosdana. [i]
Edward Delaney left school aged fourteen years as he had little interest in formal education. He applied to the Royal Hibernian Academy in the hope of an entrance to the College of Art but he actually attended classes without having been formally accepted! He acquired a mentorship with the Painter Sean Keating. Delaney discovered a book in the National Library about casting bronze that inspired his future work! This also led to further study in Rome and Munich. While overseas he worked and studied in seven foundries in Northern France also in Germany. One Commission he received in Germany was from jazz musician Louis Armstrong for a commemorative statue for the children left behind by the departing servicemen.
He represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale in 1959 also 1961. Awards Delaney received included; Fellowships from the West-German Government for Sculpture during the years 1956–57 plus a Bavarian State Foreign Students Sculpture Prize in 1958. During 1959-60 he was awarded an Italian Government Scholarship for sculpture. During 1965 he represented Ireland at the New York World Fair. Delaney won the Irish Arts Council of Ireland Sculpture prizes in 1962 and 1964. [ii]
In Dunlaoghaire Co. Dublin Edward Delaney established the first foundry in Ireland for casting, he worked and exhibited there. His patrons included architect Michael Scott, James White from the National Gallery plus writer Mervyn Wall. From 1980’s onwards Delaney concentrated on large-scale environmental pieces and stainless steel works. Initially he favoured creating “Horses.” Delaney created lithographs along with his small bronze works. His most famous works are “Wolfe Tone” and “Famine Memorial” in St. Stephen’s Green, created during 1967 plus his “Thomas Davis” on College Green. He created an altar piece for St. Michael the Archangel Church in Ballinasloe, Co Galway plus work for Our Lady’s Hospital in Drogheda, Co. Louth. He designed album covers for The Chieftains plus illustrated Wolf Mankowitz’s play “The Samson Riddle.” Other titles of his work include; “Forms”, “Bather,” “The Piper”, “Bird alighting”, “Dancer” also “The Figure of Cuchulan”. The “Fountain Tree” was commissioned for the Dublin Smurfit H. Q plus he created major works for the E. S. B. in Galway. His “Eve with Apple” sculpture was donated by a private collector to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Delaney’s “Celtic Twilight” is a modern example of his change of style. He created a sculpture park in Crossboyne with his stainless steel “Trees,” sculptures planted on twenty acres called “Beyond the Pale.” During the 1960’s – early 1970’s his main technique was in lost-wax bronze. He was elected as an academician of The Royal Hibernian Academy plus Aosdana also a member of the International Sculpture Centre in Washington, D. C. [iii]
Edward Delaney’s Sculptures have been featured within Ireland at the Royal Hibernian Academy, the Hendriks, the Irish Arts Council. the Davis and Solomon Galleries, Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, the Project Arts Centre, Central Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank, the Abbey Theatre, University College, Irish Management Institute, Jefferson Smurfit Group Ltd, the Office of Public Works, also in the Waterford Museum and the Ulster Museum in Belfast. Worldwide Delaney’s art features in Tokyo, Budapest, Buenos Aires, in New York City at National City Bank, K.L.M. Airlines Headquarters, Normen B. Arnoff plus the First National Bank of Chicago. He represented Ireland at the Paris Biennale during the years 1959 and 1961 plus at the 1965 World Fair in New York. [iv]
He died on 22nd September 2009 aged 79. He is buried at Crossboyne, Claremorris, Co. Mayo. [v]
During both 1992 and 2004 the Royal Hibernian Academy Gallagher Gallery presented a retrospective of his sculptures. Of Edward Delaney’s work the critic Anthony Butler wrote: “Place these small sculptures on some Atlantic headland, letting the wind whistle through their complex spaces and cupping the rain on their raw texture, and they would be as natural as the limestone cliffs of Aran.” [vi] In the Irish Times 2004 Review the writer Aiden Dunne stated that “what all Delaney’s work shares is robustness but with an awkwardness yet tenderness about them.” [vii] Arts writer Judith Hill referred to the Wolfe Tone and Thomas Davis sculptures that they made no attempt at an exact likeness of the figures they portray – instead they communicate the public stature and indeed the public role of memorial exists through their proportion and scale – it can be that they mark the transition from Memorial to Public art. [viii]
Edward Delaney’s son, Eamon published a book entitled “Breaking the Mould – A story of art and Ireland” stating that “My father’s ambition was to use the breakthrough period of the 1960’s to revive the best of Celtic art forms with a vigorous European modernism” [ix] plus that Edward “was a loving father – a colourful character and as a Sculptor left his own indelible mark on the landscape of Ireland.” [x]
Edward Delaney responded to criticism by saying: “Truth lies in proportions, not in size.” When it wasremarked that the ¾ tone Wolfe Tone Sculpture was too large, he replied; “Tone figured life – size in a park setting would look like a leprechaun.” [xi] Asked to define a piece of art Delaney replied: “No one should ask what a work of art is.” When asked why people purchased his art his reply was: “Fifty per cent because they appreciate them, fifty per cent as an investment.” Edward Delaney oncesaid he preferred to portray heroes “not old fogeys.” He referred to his Famine Memorial as “this is not a victory moment.” He considered the “Finnegan’s Wake” piece on Dame Street among his best work. [xii]
In October 2009 three weeks following the death of Edward Delaney his bronze “King and Queen” sold at auction for a world record price of 190,000 Euros, three other sculptures “Anna”, “Running Figure,” “Organic Form” sold for a total of 110,000 Euros! A portion of his art was purchased back from the Karl Mullen Estate. The Sculpture entitled “Integration” (that comprises an abstract stainless steel globe) was donated by his family on June 6th 2013 to his native Crossboyne. It was unveiled by his son the author and journalist Eamon Delaney in a specially developed park also donated by his family. [xiii]