Geraldine O'Neill | The Sunset Belongs to You

The Model, Sligo

Mick O'Dea and Geraldine O'Neill 

The Sunset Belongs to You 


Sunday 10th December 2023 - Saturday 2nd March 2023 

Opening Sunday 10th December with an artists' led tour of the exhibition. 


The Model is proud to unveil a newly commissioned series of portraits of 18 Sligo children by distinguished painters Mick O’Dea + Geraldine O’Neill. The portraits capture young people from diverse backgrounds living across County Sligo, and enable a hopeful glimpse into the Ireland of the future. The paintings will go on view to the general public from Sunday 10 December as part of a project titled The Sunset Belongs to You, launched with an opening reception from 3pm.



The portraits will become part of The Niland Collection, where they will have a meaningful presence alongside portraits of historic public figures, activists, artists and other changemakers. In this context, the paintings will demonstrate the importance, equality and potential of each child to lead the way with confidence and vision towards a bright democratic future for Ireland. In commissioning the portraits, The Model sought to challenge the ingrained traditional structures of portraiture to question who is reflected in a public art collection, and who is overlooked. Sligo communities who have been under-represented in the past, will now be made visible within the public collection of their local museum.



“Historically, it was only the rich and powerful who could be painted, but in this case, we are painting the future,” says artist Geraldine O’Neill. O’Neill painted each of her sitters over several months, finalising a portrait through a slow and immersive engagement. Taking a different approach, Mick O’Dea painted 12 portraits over the course of one week, in live sittings before an audience, during which he engaged the children and the public in a dialogue about portraiture.



Speaking about the portrait commission, Emer McGarry, Director of The Model said “The Sunset Belongs to You is named after a painting by Jack Butler Yeats. It is an inclusive reflection of contemporary society, in all its diversity and richness that will live on in Sligo’s municipal art collection as a historical document into the future”.



The commissioned portrait artists, Geraldine O’Neill and Mick O’Dea are both excellent practitioners and Royal Hibernian Academicians. Their portraits of public figures feature prominently in our national art collections, and together they are perfectly placed as the joint artistic leads on this project.



The exhibition is supported by the Community Foundation for Ireland and will continue until Saturday 2nd March 2024 at The Model. All openings and exhibitions at The Model are free and open to the public.

10 December 2023