Next Talk/Event

Cork DFAS 10th Anniversary Year

9 March 2024

Conference Room, Nano Nagle Place at 11:30

Dr Kristina Decker: ‘Mary Delany: A Creative Life in Eighteenth-century Ireland’

Mary Delany (1700-1788) is best known for her ‘paper mosaicks’, a collection of botanically accurate mixed media flower collages that are held in the British Museum. She famously started creating these collages in her seventies, making nearly a thousand before her eyesight began to fail. These beautiful pieces combine Delany’s lifelong interests in art and natural sciences, and it’s unsurprising that they’ve entranced viewers for centuries. Yet comparatively little attention has been given to the approximately twenty years that she lived in Ireland. During this period her creative activities flourished. Her home, Delville, in Glasnevin, Co. Dublin, provided her with the space to explore creative possibilities. She painted and sketched, made decorative shellwork, collected and arranged prints, shells, minerals, and fossils. This talk will explore Mary Delany’s creative life in Ireland, how her interests in art and science were nurtured during this period, and ultimately how these interests transformed her home, Delville.

Mary Delaney, Collage

Kristina Decker will shortly complete a PhD in the School of History at University College Cork. She received IRC funding in 2018 for her PhD research project, ‘Women and Improvement in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: the Case of Mary Delany’, which examines the ways in which Mary Delany participated in the culture of Improvement across such areas as education, sociability, landscape, and female ‘accomplishments’. Previously, she was awarded the 2017 Desmond Guinness Scholarship for research on the visual arts in Ireland from the Irish Georgian Society.


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