Rosemarie Noone couldn’t get over the speed of sales when she first opened Claremorris Gallery in Co Mayo during the boom years. “Dealers from Dublin bought 30 per cent of the exhibition over the phone before the opening night. At that time the art market was on fire,” she says
Shortly afterwards, reality hit.
“The Irish art market collapsed,” says Noone. “I had no option but to continue because of my big financial investment. While I could have survived by showing pleasing, unchallenging works which would sell readily, I decided to stick to my guns and to promote the best of contemporary Irish art, both emerging and established.”
These were difficult years for Noone. “There was a sense of desperation amongst artists. It was hard to remain optimistic. But I was constantly being reminded that things were worse in the 1980s and that it would all pick up again, eventually.”
Visitor numbers are up now, and while sales are still sluggish, flexible payment plans encourage younger buyers into the market. Claremorris Gallery, a suave, architectural space in her father’s former veterinary surgery, aims to be welcoming to newbies. The spring exhibition featured new work by Brian Bourke, Donald Teskey, Gene Lambert and Jay Murphy.