1 x 50min documentary film.
A beautiful meditation on the long, still robust life of Imogen Stuart.
Spending time in Stuart’s company is a soothing experience….she radiates both calmness and optimism.– Keith Duggan, Irish Times.
First broadcast on Thursday 7 December 2023 @ 10.15pm on RTÉ One
Link to RTÉ Promo
Filmed across 13 years, Emile Dinneen directs this intimate and fascinating documentary with, and about, his grandmother sculptor IMOGEN STUART and her remarkable life story.
In 1949, an idealistic and talented 22-year-old German girl with an enormous curiosity for the world arrived in Dublin from Berlin. She had moved from one highly artistic family with Jewish roots, surviving the Third Reich, to another bohemian milieu: that of her new Irish husband, Ian Stuart, a sculptor, and grandson of Maud Gonne. The newly-weds embarked on their life together at Laragh Castle in Co. Wicklow, where they lived with Ian’s mother, Iseult Gonne.
Now, at the age of 96, seventy-four years after her arrival, Imogen is looked upon as one of Ireland’s most pre-eminent and prolific sculptors. A highly regarded member of Aosdána with awards, medals, and honorary doctorates from the top universities in the country, her unique body of work appears in public spaces and private collections throughout the world.
Imogens work can be found in all corners of Ireland from churches to town squares to shopping centres, these include The Fiddler of Dooney and Children in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin, Saint Brendan the Navigator in Bantry, Co. Cork, and Pangur Bán at Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Former President Mary McAleese paid tribute to her “genius” and called her work “an intrinsic part of the narrative of modern Irish art, of Ireland.”
Today, that childlike inquisitiveness that is so central to her work, her energy and passion for creativity, shows little sign of abating. Imogen, still lucid and engaging, is working every day.
Uniquely, Imogen’s grandson, filmmaker Emile Dinneen, began filming with her when she was in her early 80’s. Using a treasure trove of remarkable family and public archive, extensive historical material going all the way back to Imogen’s childhood, this documentary tells the vivid story of a life lived through some of the most tumultuous events of our recent history. The film will open a door into a childhood growing up in the Second World War in the heart of Nazi Berlin, to a life in the bohemian world of Maud Gonne’s family, escaping a difficult marriage in the 1960s to working as a sculptor and single parent in Ireland.
And through her prolific artistic output, the film will explore how this child of Jewish/Lutheran parents came to take a central role in the spiritual heart of her adopted country.
This intimate documentary film tells a rich story covering various aspects of a remarkable life. Imogen visits Glendalough where her daughter Siobhán, who died in a car accident in the 1980s, is buried and we observe her with extensive family, going about her work and life, all the while reflecting on the colourful century she has experienced. Imogen’s spirit is inherently infused in her work – a magical and almost childlike naive world of early monks, lyric poetry, and nature. This is a portrait not only of a charming and powerful independent woman, but a picture of a brilliant artist as she continues to forge a path in an ever-changing world.
Filmed & Directed by: Emile Dinneen
Producer: Adrian McCarthy
Editor: Mirjam Strugalla
Exec Producer RTÉ : Aifric Ní Chianáin
Photograph of Imogen Stuart © Conor Horgan.
A Curious Dog Films Production for RTÉ © 2023.