Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The Dublin-based auctioneers say the bold move reflects their considerable client base in the north (as many as one third of collectors are based in Northern Ireland and the number is rising) but conceded it was an opportunity that might not have arisen in different economic circumstances.

The Ava Gallery is a bespoke courtyard space on the Clandeboye Estate, the home of the Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, Lindy Guinness, just outside Belfast.

The office/gallery will not open full time before August but in mid-April the auctioneers are planning a non-commercial exhibition of Ulster artists comprising pictures from private collections Adams have helped form, to be accompanied by a preview of works by more contemporary Ulster artists including Basil Blackshaw, Hector Mc Donnell, Noel Murphy, J.P. Vallely and Martin Mooney coming up for sale in the auctioneer’s Important Irish Art sale on June 2. The date is yet to be confirmed.

The space will be used by London’s Fine Art Society in late May for a Lavery show and – after some structural work to the roof of the listed building – will then open full time as an office/gallery on August 16 in time for the Clandeboye Festival and an exhibition called The French Connection based on French influences on Irish painters at the end of the 19th and the early 20th century.