Christmas Books

Collage of books

How would the monks who produced the magnificent medieval tome, The Book of Kells, react to how iconic it has become. For them, it was their veneration of Christ and Christianity. Now it is reproduced as a gift edition with fifty-nine full-size facsimiles of pages from the original manuscript and enlargements that allow a view of intricate details. The Keeper of Manuscripts at Trinity, Bernard Meehan, provides an analysis of the book and the historical context in this sumptuous production, which is available online at the Trinity gift shop. Proceeds from the book will go towards protecting the library’s collections.

The Hugh Lane Gallery is the world’s oldest public modern art gallery in continuous existence. In Hugh Lane Gallery: Director’s Choice from Scala Publishers, gallery director Barbara Dawson takes the reader on a tour of the collection, from Hugh Lane’s early donations to contemporary acquisitions.

Sean Scully: The Shape of Ideas from Yale Books explores the artist’s 50-year career within a detailed biographical framework with extensive interviews with the man himself. Yale has also produced Eileen Gray, Designer and Architect, which analyses over fifty of the artist’s designs and architectural projects. The book provides new insights and previously unseen photographs. Turner’s Apprentice – A Watercolour Masterclass from Thames & Hudson may encourage budding artists to visit the painter’s watercolours in the NGI when they go on show (hopefully) in January.

A collection of Tony O’Shea’s photographs, The Light of Day, published by RRB Photobooks and the Gallery of Photography, is a must for fans of O’Shea’s magical images. Holy Pictures, from busy publishers Hi-Tone Books, captures ‘the last vestiges of popular devotional practices’ in Ireland. Tony Murray’s book is a whimsical and often surreal glimpse of religious customs no longer seen. Old Ireland in Colour from Merrion Press is a collection of colourised black-and-white photographs from the mid-19th century to the 1960s. The colour brings a startling immediacy, although some images look like scenes from period films. You’ll find many more photo books at the Library Project in Temple bar.

Fans of architecture and graduates of UCD will enjoy Making Belfield from UCD Press, a fine publication that brings together a number of writers tracing the development of the architecture that makes up the university complex at Belfield in south Dublin, from its modernist beginnings to the extensive constructions in recent years.

Gestalten Books has an eclectic list of publications with ‘a focus on the aesthetic’. For something entirely different, check out The Age of Collage and Dreamscapes and Artificial Architecture: Imagined interior design in digital art.

The National Gallery of Ireland’s Katie series of art books for children by James Mayhew could make the perfect gift for the young artist in your household. The eponymous Katie explores drawing, van Gogh, famous paintings and lots more. For cat lovers, Thames & Hudson has Cats in Art: A Pop-Up Book, with the feline fraternity inserting themselves in Old Masters.

Wandering Wicklow with Father Browne from Messenger Books follows the priest photographer through the early 20th-century ‘Garden of Ireland’, while fans of John Schwatschke will enjoy Mary Robertson’s biography of him. Finally, Tony Godfrey’s The Story of Contemporary Art, from Thames & Hudson, aims to be an essential guide to contemporary art from 1980 to the present.