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Artist interprets precious records of the State in unique exhibition at the National Archives

A unique exhibition of work in progress opens today at the National Archives featuring new and original artwork from artist-in-residence, John Beattie.  The exhibition explores new perspectives on archival material relating to the 1921-1923 period entitled Reperforming State Memory – Work in Progress’.  


John Beattie’s art practice takes the form of still and moving-image staged productions. He examines and re-presents historical events and narratives using a range of imaging technologies, in a way that reveals or makes visible new perspectives on familiar subjects.


Reperforming State Memory, Beattie’s two-year project with the National Archives, seeks to engage with its collections and its role in preserving the records of the State, and to work collaboratively with staff to explore different modes of display and representations of archive material. Over the course of his residency, Beattie creates work that re-stages and brings to life a series of historical narratives and events from the period 1912-1923.


Taking the National Archives, The Treaty 1921: Records from the Archives exhibition, Beattie documented the installation of the exhibition and presents a‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the making of the exhibition presentedas a 3-screen video installation in the National Archives’ foyer. In addition, Beattie has constructed an experimental work outside the National Archives’ Reading Room, which combines traditional display methods with new imaging technologies to explore new ways of presenting fragile archival records.


Speaking ahead of the launch, Minister Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media said:


“As Minister with responsibility for coordinating the State’s Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023, I support the work and creative expression of artists such as John Beattie as they engage with the historical collections of the National Archives and other institutions in new and innovative ways, exploring and representing the archival record through a creative and artistic lens.  The richness of collaborations such as this, between the historical and contemporary, open up these precious records to new audiences and challenge us to take a different look at historical events.  It is great to see the fruit of this inaugural residency in this ‘work in progress’ under the Programme’s Artist-in-Residence scheme.”




Artist’s Biography

John Beattie is a visual artist, originally from Co. Donegal, and currently based in Dublin. He has exhibited widely nationally and internationally, and is currently working towards his solo exhibition Reconstructing Mondrian at the Hugh Lane Gallery in 2023. Recently, Beattie exhibited new work for the Living Canvas project – a new cultural initiative and outdoor LED screen installed at Wilton Park, Dublin, commissioned by IPUT Real Estate, in collaboration with the RHA, DCC Arts Office, and Algorithm.

Still and moving-image productions include: PERFORMING NGI.988 (2016), produced for the 1916 State commemorations in collaboration with the National Gallery of Ireland, the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art, and The LAB Gallery, Dublin; and An Artist, The Studio, and all the rest… (2006-2012), a two part cinematic moving-image production, exhibited at The Royal Hibernian Academy.

Since 2013, Beattie has been researching, producing and directing a new body of work titled RECONSTRUCTING MONDRIAN (2013-2020), based on Piet Mondrian’s original Paris studio from 1921-1936, in collaboration with The Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin, and the Foundation Reconstruction of Mondrian’s Studio, The Netherlands.

Beattie has been awarded a number of residencies to date, including the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, 2020; the apexart Fellowship, New York, 2015; IMMA, Dublin, 2011; Temple Bar Gallery & Studio, Dublin, 2010; the RHA, Dublin, 2010; and Fire Station Artists’ Studios, Dublin, 2006-2009.

John Beattie was appointed Artist in Residence in the National Archives in 2021 as part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 Programme.


For further information about John Beattie and his work:



Editor’s Notes


The National Archives preserves the memory of the State in the form of its written records. It acquires and protects Ireland’s public records, thereby ensuring their availability as a resource for all. These records relate to the social, cultural, economic and political history of the island of Ireland from the Middle Ages through to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and into the modern era.


Exhibition opening: Wednesday 8 June, 6pm


Exhibition dates:

9 June – 30 September 2022

10-5pm Monday to Friday


Venue: National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin 8