Book publisher Poolbeg Press sets up Ward River Graphics to bring Irish art to more people at affordable prices.

Knocksedan House in Swords Couty Dublin is an old mansion which has been brought to life by the written word and the stroke of a brush.

A triptych by Martin Gale 'Tennis in the Mountains' and 'Red Cell' by Barrie Cooke are part of a collection of modern Irish paintings that have found a home at Knocksedan House.

While it may appear to be like a room in an art gallery with a room of expensive, original artworks, it is actually a room of inexpensive reproductions in a publishing house.

In 1975, Poolbeg Press was established to publish the works of Irish authors. The first book they published was 'A Life Of Her Own' by Maeve Kelly. In order to promote the publications better, Poolbeg Press came up with the idea of using the artwork of modern Irish artists. A second edition of the Maeve Kelly book featured the art of Robert Ballagh. The use of work by Irish artists proved so successful that it lead to the establishment of Ward River Graphics.

To reproduce the work of Irish artists in very high quality copies so that they would be available to the general public at very low cost.

Ward River Graphics have now made available the works of six well known Irish artists from the Bank of Ireland collection. A thousand copies of the paintings have been made available for sale at the price of £5 each. Similar prints would normally cost much more.

Philip McDermot explains why Ward River Graphics was established. He has been working with artists for the jacket covers for Poolbeg Press publications and wants to grow awareness of Irish art by providing people with affordable access to it. Poolbeg Press worked with Bank of Ireland who have a collection of Irish art amd thought it would be a good idea if more people could see it.

Philip McDermot believes that there is an existing market for affordable Irish art and that people could enjoy these works in public places, schools and hospitals. He also believes that it is encouraging for artists to see their work faithfully reproduced and appreciated by more people than would normally be able to visit a gallery.

Ward River have now made it possible to hang one of these paintings on the walls of home or workplace.

Artist Colin Middleton is also part of the collection with his landscape 'El Dorado'.

Philip McDermott does not believe they will make money out of this venture but expects to break even. As long as they don't lose money, they can continue to make art more accessible.

This episode of Ireland's Eye was broadcast on 16 December 1980. The reporter is Áine O'Connor.