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Cultural Cooperation Inspired by James Joyce's Novel Ulysses

10 April 2024

The Embassy of Ireland in Hungary, the City of Szombathely and the Leopold Bloom Art Foundation have signed a tripartite cooperation agreement for closer cooperation in the Bloomsday project in Szombathely and the placement of the Foundation's art collection in the Szombathely Gallery.

     "Culture forms a special bond between Ireland and Hungary, and in my months here I have seen how deep these links run. But there is no stronger link than the one in Szombathely," Ireland's Ambassador to Hungary Ragnar Almqvist, said. He added that it is the city that hosts "the brightest Bloomsday celebrations on this side of the Irish Sea." The Ambassador added that they were delighted that the signing of the memorandum would also support a major art project to decorate the walls of public squares with chapters from James Joyce's novel Ulysses, which will be immortalized by young artists.

    Eszter Dalma Kollár, artistic director of the Leopold Bloom Art Foundation, recalled that the foundation established the Leopold Bloom Art Prize in 2011, which is awarded to one artist every two years. In addition to the top prize of EUR 10,000, last year's finalists also received a small honorarium.

     He said that last year the foundation decided to set up a contemporary art collection, which aims to support young contemporary artists in other ways besides the prize. They also aim to create a permanent exhibition of contemporary works that could not be shown in a traditional gallery setting.

     Part of the long-term support was launched at the end of last year with the start of purchases at the Christmas Fair of the Young Artists Studio Association (FKSE), where the Foundation bought works by young emerging artists. The exhibition in Szombathely will be a permanent exhibition at the Savaria Museum, she added.

     Alice Ward, a representative of the family that founded the prize, pointed out that the finalists and winners of the past years have been exhibited in institutions such as the Kiscelli Museum and the Ludwig Museum, both in Budapest. "Fulfilling the founders' dream of seeing, exhibiting and buying the artists' work," she added.

     She stated it is important that the Savaria Museum will be home to the foundation's growing collection of contemporary art, which will include works by previous winners and works purchased by the foundation. The official opening of the exhibition will take place on June 15 at the Bloomsday Festival at the Savaria Museum. Alice Ward added: "I want this exhibition to become the most important contemporary collection in Hungary".

     "Szombathely is very grateful to James Joyce for creating Ulysses and putting Szombathely on the bookshelf of world literature," according to Soma Horváth, Deputy Mayor of Szombathely, who recalled that the city has been celebrating the Bloomsday festival since 1994, the first time it was organized by local avant-garde artists in honor of Leopold Bloom, the novel's protagonist, who had his ancestry in Szombathely. “Over the past three years, Bloomsday has evolved into a contemporary art festival, thanks to the embassy, the foundation and the Ward family," the deputy mayor said.

     Andrea Csapláros, director of the local Savaria Museum, said that the gallery's priority is to collect works by young contemporary artists.

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