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Striking portrait of Seamus Heaney finds a very fitting new HomePlace

By Cate McCurry

Published 16/09/2016

Noirin McKinney, Arts Council of Northern Ireland director; Anne-Marie Campbell, director of Mid Ulster District Council, and artist Jeffrey Morgan
Noirin McKinney, Arts Council of Northern Ireland director; Anne-Marie Campbell, director of Mid Ulster District Council, and artist Jeffrey Morgan

A portrait of Seamus Heaney has a new home in the literary centre that will celebrate the life and work of the late poet.

Painted by Jeffrey Morgan, 'In The Attic' shows the Bellaghy man seated in his Dublin study reading, surrounded by books and personal objects.

The striking image now hangs in the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in the Co Londonderry village at the heart of the area where the poet spent his childhood and which inspired so much of his work across a career that spanned almost five decades.

The portrait is on long-term loan from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland's collection.

Visitors to HomePlace, which will open to the public later this month, will be able to view the painting as part of their tour of the exhibition before stepping into an interpretation of the same attic study depicted in the work, complete with some of the items which also appear.

The painting is framed in walnut from a 200-year-old tree that fell in the artist's garden during a storm and, on a visit to the Morgan home, the salvaged wood was much admired by Heaney.

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, which is responsible for the development of HomePlace, Trevor Wilson, said: "To have this original artwork on display is a very fitting and welcome addition to the building and its exhibition, and we are pleased and privileged to be giving the portrait a new home, thanks to the generosity of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the artist, Jeffrey Morgan."

Noirin McKinney, director at Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: "We are delighted to loan the Heaney portrait to HomePlace.

"Jeffrey Morgan's work looks superb in its new position on the ground floor.

"In fact, it was quite emotional to hand over the portrait in Bellaghy and experience the thrill of seeing this beautifully crafted, large-scale painting of the poet, quietly reading in the corner."

The HomePlace will open on Friday, September 30.

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