The recent launch of Belmond Grand Hibernian witnessed exciting innovations for Belmond: the new curated art collection aboard Ireland’s first luxury sleeper train.
Step aboard Belmond Grand Hibernian in Dublin’s Heuston station and you are immediately plunged in among Ireland’s natural wonders. The walls of this new luxury sleeper train are decorated with striking artworks—Belmond’s first curated art collection—which celebrates the entire island’s rich heritage, contemporary culture and dramatic scenery.
Entitled Inspirations of Ireland, this diverse array of oil paintings, watercolours and photographs by eight contemporary artists, enlivens the entire train, from its dining cars to guests’ private cabins. Brought together by Belfast-born international art consultant Katie Kennedy Perez, the works have been selected for what are often surprising, and at times mysterious and unsettling, views of Ireland’s flora, fauna and landscapes.
Revealing Ireland's many facets
As Kennedy Perez explains, “It was important that the artworks have a strong sense of place, tell an interesting story and enrich guests’ understanding of the destination.” All are by artists with a special connection to Ireland, having lived and worked there for all or part of their lives.
As the train sets off through Dublin, guests’ eyes may alight on Amelia Stein’s black and white ‘The Palm House’ series, which captures the haunting beauty of the Victorian glasshouse in the city’s National Botanical Gardens. Its exotic vegetation casts intricate patterns, creating a world she describes as “strange and other”.
Wide vistas, powerful close-ups
Moving on into the countryside, the train’s two-, four- and six-night journeys weave the length and breadth of both the Republic and Northern Ireland. As they travel, guests can make connections between the artworks that surround them and the landscapes that unfold outside.
Photographs by Samuel Laurence Cunnane reveal unusual plants in the extraordinary, ever-changing light of his County of Kerry home. From sweeping vistas to dramatic close-ups, he describes his works as capturing “small interactions glimpsed in the corner of an eye” whose effect he then exaggerates.
Mick O'Dea's 'Departure' in Twin Cabin
Magic and mystery
Celebrated contemporary Irish artist Mick O’Dea strides outside with his easel to paint the seascapes around his home on the County Mayo coast. As he says: “The scene can look monochromatic and then the sky suddenly illuminates an area and the ridges become exposed—this is the magic that inspires me.” Most of the artworks on board Belmond Grand Hibernian reflect nature and places that can be experienced from the train. Dorothy Cross, however, transports guests to the remote island of Inis Mór off Ireland’s west coast. Her striking ‘Wormhole I-VI’ photographic series captures a bizarre geographical phenomenon—a rectangular water basin created by natural erosion.
Inspirations of Ireland lends a further dimension to the Belmond Grand Hibernian experience, illuminating unique aspects of this glorious, green country as it moves between its Dublin base, Belfast and Cork.