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Launch of Conjuring Form at Doneraile Court and 2021 RDS Irish Craft Bursary Winner Announced

Posted 03.08.2021
Press Releases

PORTFOLIO Critical Selection 2021-2022


€10,000 RDS Irish Craft Bursary awarded

Conjuring Form launched at Doneraile Court on Thursday 29 July 2021
Exhibition open 30 July – 12 September 2021

When the potter throws a lump of clay, when the silversmith hammers a sheet of silver, when the basket maker and weaver prepare reeds and threads, they are conjuring forms from their mind and slowly allowing them to grow in their hands until the moment they come into being. The ultimate skill of the craftsman is knowing when the form has been reached. Knowing when to stop – when the work is done. The challenge for the maker is this marriage of mind and hand…. Mastering a craft means learning the steps, developing and refining the technique and then subverting it to create something unique. To know the rules in order to break them. – Curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein


PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection
Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection is a biennial selection and publication of the leading edge of Irish contemporary design and craft in a world-class context. Makers are selected by an international jury. Every two years, Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI) commissions an exhibition of this work to increase awareness and understanding of Irish craft among Irish and international collectors, galleries, commissioning bodies and museums.

DCCI’s PORTFOLIO programme has been instrumental in building the international reputations and commercial potential of Ireland’s best designer‐makers of contemporary craft. The benchmark for this elite group is achievement of excellence in contemporary craftsmanship and design by comparative international standards, assessed by an impressive international jury.

Inclusion in PORTFOLIO is recognition of practitioners creating work to a standard to be considered worthy by museums, renowned galleries, and discerning collectors. Final selection is represented through a publication and exhibition of this leading Irish contemporary design and craft. Over 160 entries were received for this selection.

The PORTFOLIO publication is sent to thought leaders, gallerists and buyers around the world, opening doors to international awards, representation by highly respected commercial galleries and work being purchased by prestigious collections and museums worldwide.

Eight makers from PORTFOLIO were invited to exhibit at the Michelangelo Foundation’s prestigious Home Faber exhibition of the ‘finest European craftsmanship’ in Venice in 2018 PORTFOLIO makers have previously been shortlisted for the prestigious LOEWE Foundation Award: ceramicist, Sara Flynn, basketmaker Joe Hogan and ceramicist Jack Doherty.

Nuala O’Donovan, Joseph Walsh, Annemarie Reinhold, Helen O’Shea and Antonio Lopez Castro are Cork-based designers and makers who have been selected for PORTFOLIO Critical Selection 2021-2022.

Conjuring Form launch event took place on Thursday 29th July, at Doneraile Estate. The 2021-22 exhibition, Conjuring Form, has been curated by Alice Stori Liechtenstein, founder of Schloss Hollenegg for Design, from the makers selected for PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection.

The exhibition has been produced by Design & Crafts Council Ireland in partnership with the Office of Public Works at the newly refurbished Doneraile Court. The contemporary works in the exhibition are curated within the historic rooms and furnishings of the house, juxtaposing old and new. This creates a dialogue around the importance of collections and collecting contemporary material culture.

Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s PORTFOLIO Critical Selection programme 2021/22 is showcased in the Conjuring Forms exhibition. It is a select group of Ireland’s most talented designers and craftspeople. Each have reached their high standard of practice through years of refinement. The designer makers in this exhibition typify the best in contemporary Irish practice, with deep understanding of their chosen materials and techniques, and mastery to conjure form.

This year’s virtual selection process meant that more people applied than would have previously. As a result, there Is a greater international element to the selection then in previous years, featuring Irish makers currently based in Britain, the USA and UAE.

Exhibitors: Scott Benefield | Roger Bennett | Paul Bokslag | Emma Bourke | Max Brosi | Cathy Burke | Úna Burke | Anne Butler | Hugo Byrne | Mike Byrne | Edmond Byrne | Stuart Cairns | Mary Conroy | Jack Doherty | Sara Flynn | Jennifer Hickey | Joe Hogan | Alison Kay | John Lee | Antonio Castro | Alan Meredith | Cecilia Moore | Sadhbh Mowlds | Cara Murphy | Mary Nagle | Nuala O’Donovan | Nigel O’Reilly | Helen O’Shea | Annemarie O’Sullivan | Annemarie Reinhold | Michael Rice | Emer Roberts | Peter Sheehan & Cathal Loughnane | Matt Smith | Sasha Sykes | Joseph Walsh | Kathleen Walsh | Gráinne Watts | Zelouf & Bell

€10,000 RDS Irish Craft Bursary 
DCCI partners with the RDS, to select the annual RDS Irish Craft Bursary, valued at €10,000, which is open to all makers in the PORTFOLIO programme. The RDS Irish Craft Bursary may be used for a wide range of career and professional development activities such as: further education and training; research; development of new work; mentoring; purchase of equipment; studio improvements; technology; websites and residencies. Each year the judges look for proposals demonstrating how the award could help develop a makers’ practice and career as well as being of benefit to Irish craft.

The 2021 RDS Irish Craft Bursary winner is silversmith, Cara Murphy, who intends to create a new body of work by using the Donegal coastline as her workshop. 

Cara states: “I am so delighted to have won this year’s RDS Irish Craft Bursary. I am really looking forward to the challenge of taking my hammers outside and exploring working at the intersection of where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Irish coastline, and seeing what new work develops.” 

Cara envisages spending 6 weeks outside experimenting with hammering, and a further 8 weeks outside creating the finished works. The project will commence in July and be completed by December, allowing for periods of reflection and creativity over the timeframe.

Previous winners of RDS Craft Bursary include Edmond Byrne (glass) and Seliena Coyle (jewellery). They have used the bursary to fund projects which have enabled them to push boundaries and make innovative strides in their disciplines.

Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Mr. Patrick O’Donovan, T.D., said: “The Office of Public Works is delighted to continue to develop our collaborations with DCCI. Hosting Portfolio at Doneraile Court during Cork Craft Month is a new and exciting step and the presentation of objects by Ireland’s top artists and craftspersons in a historic environment such as this draws attention to the continuum of craft skills over centuries. Visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the showcase of living makers’ works as part of their visit at Doneraile Court over the coming weeks and I hope this will attract many to come and enjoy this juxtaposition of old and new.” 

RDS Chief Executive, Geraldine Ruane said: “Congratulations to Cara Murphy who is the winner of the 2021 RDS Irish Craft Bursary valued at €10,000. The RDS is committed to helping Ireland’s vibrant craft sector fulfil its potential and we have significantly increased the direct financial support we provide to the sector in recent years. The RDS Irish Craft Bursary, valued at €10,000, is an important financial support for established craft makers in the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s Portfolio programme, who are setting a benchmark of excellence with their work. This bursary is designed to work in tandem with the RDS Craft Awards, these annual Awards distribute a total of €50,000 to five emerging craft makers. The overall RDS fund of €60,000 for craft makers will not only financially support those pursuing excellence within their discipline, but will give them an opportunity to invest in improving their craft and business skills which are vital to sustaining a professional career in the sector.”

DCCI Chief Executive, Rosemary Steen said: “We are constantly enthralled by the level of craftsmanship that emerges from the applicants to the PORTFOLIO programme. Though just two years apart, the level of excellence and innovation demonstrated by our makers across each cycle testifies to their passion and commitment to their disciplines. Over a period where creative energies may have been challenged, the body of work in Conjuring Forms underscores the strength of a thriving design and craft sector in Ireland. I look forward to seeing the journeys of these supremely talented makers on foot of the PORTFOLIO 2021/22 programme.” 

For more information visit:


Jean Blanchaert, Belgian‐Italian gallerist, antiquarian, glass sculptor and illustrator. For the past 30 years, Jean has run his family’s gallery in Milan, which specialises in glass, ceramics, enamel and contemporary materials. He is a member of the curatorial committee of Venice Glass Week. In 2018, he curated the Best in Europe pavilion at Home Faber 2018 in Venice. Juliana Cavaliero & Debra Finn, Directors of Cavaliero Finn, UK.

Cavaliero Finn, a London-based gallery, has placed works in museum collections including the V&A, The Fitzwilliam Museum and Manchester Art Gallery.

Jury Member & Exhibition Curator: 

Alice Stori Liechtenstein, Writer, design critic and curator. Alice is the founder of Schloss Hollenegg for Design, an international project based in Austria which supports design culture by offering an exhibition platform and residency programme to young emerging designers.

About Design & Crafts Council Ireland
Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy. DCCI’s activities are funded by the Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment via Enterprise Ireland. DCCI currently has 59-member organisations and over 3,000 registered clients. Design & Crafts Council Ireland | @DCCIreland | @portfoliodccoi |

The National Design & Craft Gallery is part of Design & Crafts Council Ireland, based in Castle Yard, Kilkenny. National Design & Craft Gallery | @NDCGallery |


For further information, please contact [email protected]