The Newry and Morne Museum is displaying a series of six unique acrylic paintings created by Jasper McKinney in response to the rediscovery and subsequent restoration of Bagenal Castle in the 1990s. Jasper McKinney was born in Banbridge in 1961 and studied at Ulster Polytechnic, Brighton College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art. The works exhibited in the museum interpret the history of the museum building from the medieval Cistercian abbey, located in the vicinity, to the castle of Bagenal, then to the time of the McCann bakery. McKinney also took the plan of Newry, drawn by Robert Lythe in the 1570s, and floor plans of the castle, which date from the same period, and incorporated them into the works.
Each of the works exhibited in the museum reflects a different area of the castle and warehouse. The room that interprets the ground floor contains the symbol of wheat. This reflects the building’s history as a bakery, and the wheat theme is carried through all of the work. There is also an abbot’s miter which recalls the history of the Cistercian abbey and the plan of the ground floor of the castle.
The painting that explores the first floor shows the stair tower, the latrine tower and the original chimney that was used to make bread from the time of the Château de Bagenal. It also shows a baker’s hat and the date 1894 when the Victoria Bakery moved from Hill Street to the Castle Street site.
The artwork on the second floor is wheat-themed, displaying the ancient wheat symbol. It also features the yew tree which is symbolic of Newry. The name “Newry” is derived from “Iubhair Cinn Tragh” (which translates to “the yew at the head of the strand”). Saint Patrick is thought to have planted a yew along the River Clanrye in the 5th century. The piece also depicts the museum’s tombstone which is believed to have originally come from a cemetery adjoining a former monastery in Newry before the founding of the Cistercian abbey in 1153. More recently the stone was located on the wall of a store in Castle Street and was known as the Promise Stone. In the 1960s the stone was moved to its present location in the former premises of the Victoria Bakery.
The painting that focuses on the attic bears the name “Arthur McCann” who was the founder of the Victoria Bakery as well as the year 1996 when the Chateau de Bagenal was rediscovered. This coin also features a heraldic animal taken from a stone in the Museum which would have been part of a pair used on a label stops in a cowl molding mounted above a window or door of the Cistercian abbey. This stone also features a carved human head, which inspired a fifth painting inspired by this iconic piece of medieval sculpture.
Sir Nicholas Bagenal is displayed in sixth play using the image from the end of the 16e century oil on canvas portrait of him which is exhibited in the Museum. This piece also includes images taken from Robert Lythe’s map.
Jasper McKinney’s six paintings creatively interpret the history of Bagenal Castle and associated medieval artifacts. They form an important part of the Museum’s art collection which reflects the heritage of the region.
The Museum currently offers free tours of the exhibition halls on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. These must be booked in advance by calling our Education Officer on 0330 137 4422.
The Newry and Morne Museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please call 0330 137 4422 or email [email protected] for more information.
Please visit our website at www.visitmournemountains.co.uk