New exhibition in Waterford to shed light on inspiring couple

New exhibition in Waterford to shed light on inspiring couple whose influence on education and the arts is still felt to this day

‘Arnold & Hilda: The Life and Work of Arnold Marsh and Hilda Roberts’ is a free new exhibition at the Waterford Gallery of Art, featuring over fifty works of art, as well as archival material, photography, ceramics and textiles.

Nearly all the work on show, rarely seen before, comes from private lenders as well as the Waterford Art Collection. The display, coinciding with the release of Marsh’s memoirs, ‘The Happy Belfast Man’ (Lilliput Press), is a celebration of the extraordinary lives of these two incredible figures.

Arnold Marsh (1890 -1977) is best remembered as an educationist and headmaster of Newtown Quaker School, Waterford.  He travelled extensively, including working in goldmines in Northern Ontario, on railway construction in British Columbia, as a lumberjack in Alaska and even as an extra in the Douglas Fairbanks movie ‘A Modern Musketeer’.

He was eventually ‘inducted’ into the US Army at Camp Lewis, Washington, and sent to France to join the frontline before returning to Ireland to marry fellow Quaker, Hilda Roberts.

Hilda Roberts (1901-1982) was a pupil of Patrick Tuohy and studied fine art in London and Paris. Predominantly a painter and illustrator, Roberts got her first commission at the age of seventeen, when she illustrated the Lorimers’ translation of Persian Tales. Roberts was a prolific artist throughout her lifetime, obtaining numerous awards as well as representing Ireland in the 1932 Summer Olympics.

Dr Peter Jordan, who served as Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at WIT (now SETU), and was responsible for the reappraisal and subsequent cataloguing of the Waterford Art Collection, states, “The contribution of Arnold Marsh and Hilda Roberts to the founding of the Waterford Municipal Art Collection, and indeed to art appreciation and education in the city, cannot be overstated.

“They form part of a group of strongly motivated individuals, who were able to harness together national cultural aspiration, civic pride and a sense of artistic heritage, with personal altruism and conviction to create new municipal Art Collections in Ireland at this particular time.”

The exhibition opens from 5pm, November 17th  2023 and runs until February 3rd 2024 with a special launch event to be announced for later in the year.

The Waterford Gallery of Art is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and is free entry.


For further information:

Luke Currall
Visual Arts Co-Ordinator
The Waterford Gallery of Art, 31-32 O’Connell Street, Waterford, X91 RR2R

About Conan Power

A news blog with all the latest items of interest from Waterford City & County Council, Ireland.
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