The T. S. Eliot Estate

The T. S. Eliot Lecture 2019

17 November 2019

Booking Information

Date: Sunday 17 November
On the Abbey Stage

Time: 6pm

Tickets: €13 – €35 / Conc. €13 – €25

The fourth in a series of five annual lectures inspired by T. S. Eliot’s impact on modern literature.

The 2019 lecture, entitled “Belief versus Disbelief”, will be delivered by Sean Scully RA.

Dr. Barbara Dawson, Director of The Hugh Lane Gallery, will introduce Sean Scully.

The lecture will be followed by an interview with Scully, led by Adrian Dunbar.

Bríd Brennan will also perform from Eliot’s work.


Sean Scully 

Sean Scully RA was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1945. Four years later, his family moved to a working-class part of South London. Following various jobs as a typesetter’s apprentice, in construction, and as messenger, in 1965 at the age of 20, Scully began to study full-time at Croydon College of Art, London, before moving on to Newcastle University in 1968. In 1970, Scully won the Peter Stuyvesant Foundation prize; he received prizes in the 1972 and 1974 John Moores Painting Prize; and was awarded the Frank Knox Fellowship to attend Harvard University. In 1975, at the age of 30, Scully was awarded a two-year Harkness Fellowship with which he moved to New York.

Today, Scully lives and works between New York, Bavaria and London. He has been twice shortlisted for the Turner Prize and his work is in the collection of virtually every major museum around the world. In 2014, he became the only Western artist to have had a career-length retrospective exhibition in China (Follow the Heart: The Art of Sean Scully 1964 – 2014 included over 100 paintings and traveled from Shanghai to Beijing). In 2018, Scully was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by Newcastle University in the UK. Current solo exhibitions include Sea Star at the National Gallery, London; the retrospective titled Vita Duplex at the LWL-Museum for Art and Culture, Münster; and the first major exhibition of the figurative series inspired by his son titled, Eleuthera, at the Albertina, Vienna. Also, on view for the 58th Venice Biennale is Sean Scully: Human at the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore, an exhibition of recent paintings and a soaring new sculpture titled Opulent Ascension rising up under the dome of the High Renaissance church by Palladio.

Bríd Brennan 

Bríd Brennan is a Northern Irish actress who is known for her theatre work. She originated the role of Agnes in the Brian Friel play Dancing at Lughnasa, for which she won the 1992 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play. She is also a three-time Olivier Award nominee; for Rutherford and Son (1995), The Little Foxes (2002) and The Ferryman (2018). In 2016, Brennan performed in Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall at Wilton’s Theatre and in the West End. She reprised her role of Agnes in the 1998 film version of Dancing at Lughnasa, starring alongside Meryl Streep and gave an award-winning performance in 2012’s Shadow Dancer, winning an IFTA for her role as Ma. She also featured in Brooklyn (2015) and Florence Foster Jenkins (2016). Her television credits include CrackerBrotherly Love (1995), South Riding (2011), The Escape Artist (2013) and Peaky Blinders (2016). For RTÉ Radio 1, Brennan played the role of Lucia Joyce in Thomas Kilroy’s In the Garden of the Asylum in 2009. 

Adrian Dunbar 

Born and raised in Enniskillen, Adrian Dunbar has been working in theatre, television, film and radio for the last 40 years. In theatre, he has performed with both the National Theatre of Great Britain and the Royal Shakespeare Company. In Ireland, he has worked at the Abbey Theatre and the Lyric Theatre, where his production of Janet Behan’s Brendan at the Chelsea opened the Naughton Studio and went on to represent the Lyric Theatre at Dublin Theatre Festival and in New York. More recently, he performed in the West End’s Boeing Boeing and the Lyric Theatre production of Conor McPherson’s The Night Alive.

His film credits include My Left Foot, The Crying Game, The General, Hear My Song (which he also co-wrote with Peter Chelsom and was BAFTA nominated as a writer), When Harry Became a Tree, Richard III, A World Apart, Widows Peak, and Mickeybo and Me.

He has worked extensively in television including Cracker, Morse, Ashes to Ashes, The Hollow Crown, Broken and Blood. Most recently, to great acclaim, he has created the role of Ted Hastings in the hit BBC series Line of Duty for which he was BAFTA nominated.

He is, at present, working on a new Beckett documentary for BBC 4. He also made a documentary for RTÉ on Brendan Behan. He is an Associate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and also an Artistic Associate of Enniskillen’s Happy Days: International Beckett Festival where his productions of Beckett’s Ohio Impromptu and Catastrophe were highlights. He has also devised with composer Nick Roth an evening of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land for four voices.

Barbara Dawson 

Barbara Dawson is Director of the Hugh Lane Gallery which was founded by Sir Hugh Lane in 1908. She has overseen the transition of the city gallery into a leading cultural institution in Dublin. The gallery is committed to enhancing its collections, organising diverse and challenging exhibitions and to building new dynamic and inclusive learning programmes, working both in house and within the communities. In 1998, she secured the gift of Francis Bacon’s Studio and Archive and relocated it from London to Dublin where it opened to the public in 2001. In celebration of the opening of the gallery’s New Wing in 2006, Sean Scully donated eight paintings marking key developments in his career and a special room was created in which to display these. Last year, he donated a ninth work, the splendid Landline Grey which is currently on view.

A leading supporter of Irish art practice, Dawson’s aim is to showcase Irish art practice alongside its international peers through exhibitions acquisitions and projects. In 2014, Dawson was appointed Adjunct Professor of the School of Art History and Critical Policy at University College Dublin and is a member of the Trinity Long Room Hub Institute Board. She was also appointed a Creative Fellow of the UCD College of Arts and Humanities in 2019.

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