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Narratives in Making, an exhibition of work from PORTFOLIO Critical Selection

Published: Friday, April 28, 2017

Stephen O’Briain_Furniture French Walnut Desk_French walnut, maple and leather_200 × 100 × 75cm_Photographer_Roland Paschhoff

Stephen O’Briain Furniture French Walnut Desk French walnut, maple and leather. Photographer Roland Paschhoff

Narratives in Making, a curated exhibition of contemporary work from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s publication, PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection 2017 – 2018, will open on Friday, 12 May at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny. The exhibition features the work of the 28 designer-makers selected by an international panel for inclusion in the biennial publication for demonstrating excellence in craftsmanship, design quality and technical skill. Narratives in Making will show at the National Craft Gallery until 5 July 2017, before moving to Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales from 22 July to 24 September 2017 as part of its international tour.

Narratives in Making will feature new works by 28 Irish makers across a variety of disciplines, including ceramics, wood, leather, basketry, glass, metals, furniture and jewellery. Curated by Gregory Parsons, the exhibition considers the provenance of each object – who made it, where it was created, the techniques and materials used – as this informs our relationship with the piece. There are fascinating stories: from the love of material and the rituals of making, to the design process and the physical rhythm and time involved. The curator also takes into account the contribution contemporary craft makes to our well-being, through the life-enhancing intelligence of the maker’s hand, the delight in what it produces and the joy of owning the object. As you become absorbed in their world, you also become a part of these narratives in making.

Parsons comments: “I was delighted to be asked to contribute to this year’s PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection and accompanying exhibition. It is a wonderful programme that celebrates creativity, promotes the contribution of contemporary craft to society, and respects and supports the continuation of historical traditions. It also champions the integrity of Irish makers and making, and has led me to a far greater understanding of the enormously diverse and highly skilled pool of talent that emanates from an island rich in arts heritage.”

The accompanying biennial publication, PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection 2017 – 2018, will launch on the opening night of the exhibition. Presenting the highest standards of contemporary design and craft in Ireland as selected by an international panel, this edition features new additions: Anne Butler (ceramics); Cecilia Moore (metals); and Julie Connellan (jewellery). Other featured designer-makers include the 2017 Golden Fleece Award winner John Lee for his woodturning and furniture design; ceramicist Sara Flynn who was recently short-listed for the LOEWE Craft Prize 2017 for outstanding work of craftsmanship; Zelouf + Bell whose current projects include the redesign of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (Ireland’s only restaurant with two Michelin stars); and silversmiths Stuart Cairns and Cara Murphy who have both received the Rosy James Memorial Trust Awards administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Works by several of the designer-makers included in this critical selection were also purchased for the Contemporary Collection of Design and Craft at the National Museum of Ireland (NMI).

Michael McCrory_Metals_Prickly Pear Salt and Pepper Mills_Silver and sycamore wood_6×6×12cm_Photographer_David Pauley

Michael McCrory Metals Prickly Pear Salt and Pepper Mills Silver and sycamore wood. Photographer David Pauley

Ciara Garvey, Development Manager, Collector and Tourism Programmes, said: “The Critical Selection serves as a biennial marker of excellence, not only in design and craftsmanship, but also in ideas, innovation and imagination. The judges were extremely impressed with the standards set and achieved by the makers selected for this edition.”

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, also commented: The PORTFOLIO programme allows us to shine a light on the exceptional quality, beauty and integrity of the craft we produce in Ireland. The accompanying PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection publication presents a selection of this work, placing the makers on an international stage and providing a source for curators and collectors that is current and representative of the talent and creativity on offer in this country. Overall, the programme has helped to enhance relationships with galleries, museums, commissioning bodies and cultural institutions, ensuring that stunning contemporary Irish craft is seen and appreciated far beyond our own shores. I look forward to seeing these important relationships develop further as the exhibition tours.” 

The designer-makers included in Narratives in Making are:

  • Roger Bennett (Wood)
  • Úna Burke (Leather)
  • Anne Butler (Ceramics)
  • Edmond Byrne (Glass)
  • Mike Byrne (Ceramics)
  • Stuart Cairns (Metals)
  • Julie Connellan (Jewellery)
  • Jack Doherty (Ceramics)
  • Liam Flynn (Wood)
  • Sara Flynn (Ceramics)
  • Karl Harron (Glass)
  • Pierce Healy (Jewellery)
  • Jennifer Hickey (Ceramics)
  • Joe Hogan (Basketry)
  • John Lee (Furniture)
  • Alison Lowry (Glass)
  • Michael McCrory (Metals)
  • Cecilia Moore (Metals)
  • Cara Murphy (Metals)
  • Eily O’Connell (Jewellery)
  • Stephen O’Briain (Furniture)
  • Susan O’Byrne (Ceramics)
  • Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill (Metals)
  • Angela O’Kelly (Jewellery)
  • Sasha Sykes (Furniture)
  • Gráinne Watts (Ceramics)
  • Joseph Walsh (Furniture)
  • ZELOUF + BELL (Susan Zelouf and Michael Bell) (Furniture)


Curator’s Talk, 12 May, 6pm
With Gregory Parsons followed by the exhibition launch. Enjoy a free cocktail inspired by the exhibition and designed by Master Mixologist Darren Geraghty, courtesy of Pembroke Kilkenny. The specially created cocktail will be available in Statham's Bar at Pembroke Kilkenny for the exhibition duration.

Bealtaine Crafternoon Tea, 16 May, 11am, 12.30pm + 2.30pm
Informal tour and cultural tea, celebrating creativity as we age

School Gallery Visits, 17 May – 30 June
Tailored for your class, from Primary to Third Level

National Drawing Day, 20 May, 11am-3pm
Craft and drawing drop-in workshops for all ages

Meet the Maker, 25 May, 6.30pm
Deep Drawing Technique talk and demonstration with Michael McCrory

Family Design Day, 17 June, 10.30am + 12 noon
Animal Picnic with Saidhbhin Gibson, inspired by Susan O’Byrne’s work

Meet the Makers, 22 June, 6.30pm
Approaches to Furniture with Sasha Sykes and Stephen O’Briain

Book by email events@nationalcraftgallery.ie or call 056 779 6151. Please visit www.nationalcraftgallery.ie for more information.

Categories: Exhibitions

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