Making the Invisible Visible: Crowded Thresholds to Open at Farmleigh Gallery

Posted 20.11.19

Image (l to r): works by John Rainey, Daithi Magner and Joe Caslin

  • Crowded Thresholds to be presented at Farmleigh Gallery 6th December 2019 – 28 March 2020 following its successful opening run at the National Design & Craft Gallery, Kilkenny
  • The exhibition will be officially opened by performer, writer and activist Panti Bliss on Friday, 6th December at 6.30pm

Crowded Thresholds, an exhibition presenting thought-provoking pieces across applied art, design and visual art, will open at Farmleigh Gallery, Phoenix Park, Dublin on Friday, 6th December 2019. Curated by Fiona Mulholland, the exhibition coincides with the centenary of Freud's essay, The Uncanny, and explores ‘emotional geography’, generating a fascinating visual interplay between authentic storytelling and artistic expression. Crowded Thresholds is a touring exhibition of the National Design & Craft Gallery and originally opened as part of the Kilkenny Arts Festival 2019. This run is presented at Farmleigh Gallery in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW) and will be officially opened by renowned performer, writer and activist, Panti Bliss.

Presented with a sense of playfulness and infectious imagination, this intriguing group exhibition displays objects by established and emerging practitioners – all of whom are based in Ireland or linked to this country – that are connected by a desire to make the invisible visible and have a fundamental interest in traditional processes and materials. Reflecting on what Freud termed ‘The Uncanny’, the psychological experience of something as strangely familiar, Mulholland is interested in how psychoanalytic concepts overlap with the creative process. From traditionally made jewellery pieces that address the concept of humanity to ‘voluptuously illustrated’ silk scarves and reimagined Rorschach inkblot tests, the artists and makers straddle the threshold of disciplines and languages; practices are blurred, with old and new tools utilised, all working to express the very essence of human agency.

Fiona Mulholland, Crowded Thresholds curator, comments: “I was particularly interested
in objects with specific functions and associations which have then been ‘turned inside out’ by the maker, imposing private and psychological qualities on them. The exhibition explores effects of the subconscious in the creation and response to these objects of material culture. Bringing together a disparate set
of influences, from popular culture to the avant-garde; surrealism to realism; social cultural issues to the body at a microscopic level, Crowded Thresholds ultimately embraces our humanity.

Louise Allen, Managing Executive of Design & Crafts Council Ireland, added: “At the National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, our aim is to build a dynamic exhibitions and events programme that showcases traditional skills along with contemporary practices and includes touring opportunities in order to engage new audiences and extend our reach throughout Ireland and abroad. Crowded Thresholds is an exhibition of extraordinary objects produced by immensely talented designers and makers who are pushing the boundaries of innovation, creativity and expression. Following its successful run in Kilkenny, we are delighted to partner with the OPW in presenting this stimulating and inspiring exhibition in the stunning surrounds of Farmleigh Gallery.

Mary Heffernan, General Manager of Farmleigh House and Gallery, also commented: “The OPW is looking forward to hosting Crowded Thresholds in partnership with Design & Crafts Council Ireland at Farmleigh Gallery in December. This is a thought-provoking exhibition that speaks to the talent of both the artists and the curator Fiona Mulholland. We are delighted the collaboration with the Design & Crafts Council Ireland is providing opportunities to bring this tremendous exhibition to Farmleigh.”

Running until March 2020, Crowded Thresholds is a touring exhibition of the National Design & Craft Gallery and is presented in partnership with the OPW. Following its run at Farmleigh, the exhibition will tour to Luan Gallery, Athlone from April 2020.

LISTINGS INFORMATION:        Crowded Thresholds

LOCATION:                                Farmleigh Gallery, Phoenix Park, Dublin D15 TD50

DATES:                                      6 December 2019 – 28 March 2020

TIMES:                                      Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays 10am – 5pm, closed for lunch 1pm – 2pm.

ADMISSION:                              Free

Further information is also available at: and

– ENDS –

For further press information, please contact Lily Killeen at FleishmanHillard Dublin at: or 01 618 8444


Max Brosi (Woodturning)

Joe Caslin (Street art/Illustration)

Julie Connellan (Jewellery)

Hazel Kenny (Jewellery)

Daithi Magner (Sculpture)

Paul McClure (Jewellery)

Caoimhe McGuckin (Jewellery)

John Rainey (Ceramics/Sculpture)

Niall Sweeney – Pony (Design/Textile Print)

Brigitta Varadi (Textile Art)



Max Brosi
Max Brosi graduated with a BA (Hons) in Furniture Design and Manufacture from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) in Letterfrack, Co. Galway in 2006 and is now based in the north west of Ireland. He initially developed his fabrication
skills to include wooden surfboard construction and small
boat building. Recent work has focused on sculptural multi-axis turned wooden forms; looking at the significance of form, texture and methods of production, he celebrates the natural distortions inherent in each piece as the green wood seasons. He has exhibited internationally and has received several prestigious awards. He is represented by Kirsten Muenster Projects.

Joe Caslin
Joe Caslin is a street artist, illustrator, art teacher
and activist originally from Roscommon. He graduated from Edinburgh College of Art with an MFA in Illustration in 2012 and was the recipient of the Association of Illustration Award for New Talent in Public Realm Illustration 2013. He has been commissioned to create significant installations for some
of Ireland’s most prominent buildings, including the National Gallery of Ireland, National Museum of Ireland, Cork City Hall, Trinity College and Achill Henge. Best known for his striking large-scale monochromatic drawings which unapologetically engage with the viewer, Caslin’s work reflects pressing private and public issues of modern Ireland.

Julie Connellan
Julie Connellan is based in Co. Galway and has been making contemporary jewellery since graduating from
the Berufskolleg Für Design, Schmuck und Gerät in Pforzheim, Germany in 2009. She completed a research masters at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2011. Connellan has exhibited extensively throughout Ireland and internationally.

Hazel Kenny
Hazel Kenny is a jewellery designer living and working
in Dublin. Following a course in Metalwork with FÁS in the
early 2000s and several years as an apprentice in the jewellery industry, Kenny returned to college and in 2016 graduated with a first-class BA (Hons) in Metalwork & Jewellery from
the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. She was
awarded Newbridge Silverware NCAD Jewellery Designer
of the Year in 2016. She has exhibited at New Designers in London and in 2016 set up her own studio. Her exquisitely crafted, idiosyncratic jewellery collection is a celebration of fingers and toes. By emulating amputated limbs as objects of adornment, Kenny endeavours to bring attention to the wonderful weirdness found in the seemingly mundane aspects of the everyday.

Daithi Magner 
Daithi Magner is a sculptor and set designer originally from Limerick and now based in London. He initially trained as
a furniture maker, later graduating with a first-class BA in Production Design & Art Direction from Institute of Art, Design and Technology (IADT), Dublin in 2009. He uses his design and fabrication skills for all types of film, TV and theatre set and prop production. Referencing Irish folklore, history and religion, Magner’s work explores the varying relationships between modern living and rural attitudes both past and present. He is represented by Westphal Gallery in Berlin.

Paul McClure
Paul McClure has been a practicing studio jeweller for over 30 years and is based in Toronto, Canada. With a BFA from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in Halifax, he continued his education in Barcelona at Escola Massana and at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin graduating with an MA in 1999. He has exhibited extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In 2015, McClure received the Saidye Bronfman Award (an annual Governor General Award and the highest honour given to Canadian visual artists). McClure’s work is often described as sculptural although
it is the wear-ability of jewellery and its relationship with the physical body that interests him most. He is represented by Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h.

Caoimhe McGuckin
Caoimhe McGuckin is a contemporary designer-maker living in Co. Kildare. She graduated in 2017 with a first-class
BA (Hons) in Jewellery and Metalwork from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. She has been successful in several highly competitive selection processes and has been the recipient of multiple awards, including Future Makers Student of the Year from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and NCAD Designer of the Year from Newbridge Silverware in 2017. Making provides
a touchstone in her attempt to dismantle, quantify and organise abstract or intangible thoughts and ideas. Through broad and detailed research, considered design and thorough material investigation, she satisfies a desire for certitude by solving
or giving formal presence to a previously intangible idea.

John Rainey 
John Rainey is a sculptor based in Belfast. He graduated
in 2009 with a first-class BA (Hons) in Contemporary Crafts from Manchester Metropolitan University and in 2012 with an MA
from the Royal College of Art, London. He has been the recipient of several funding and residency awards, including the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s British School at Rome fellowship
in 2018. He is an associate artist of Marsden Woo Gallery, London. Rainey’s ceramic sculptures present the plasticity of digital culture through a number of methods. He works on a shifting physical scale, somewhere between the monumental and the domestic, reflecting fluctuating boundaries between public and private life.

Niall Sweeney – Pony (Design/Textile Print)
Niall Sweeney graduated from Dún Laoghaire College
of Art and Design in Dublin in the early 1990s. Based in London, he founded his design studio, Pony Ltd, with electronic musician and composer, Nigel Truswell, at the beginning of the 21st century. Their award-winning work has been published, exhibited, performed, collected and screened around the world. Highly regarded for a multi-disciplinary and innovative approach, Pony makes work internationally across art, design, print, theatre, film, performance, installation, music and writing.

Brigitta Varadi
Brigitta Varadi was born in Hungary and moved to
Ireland almost 20 years ago. She now divides her time between Co. Leitrim, New York, USA and her native Hungary. She trained in Fashion Design at St. Angela’s College, Sligo, and in Visual Arts at National College of Art and Design, Dublin and at Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork. She has exhibited extensively internationally and is the recipient of numerous funding
and residency awards. She is currently artist-in-residence
at the Museum of Arts and Design [MAD] in New York. Her inter-disciplinary practice explores how memories
can inform our present-day perspectives and artistic expression predominantly through the media of textiles, painting and video.


About the curator

Fiona Mulholland (MA RCA)
A sculptor and award-winning jeweller specialising in conceptual work, Fiona has over 25 years’ experience in the creative sector. She is a graduate of the National College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art in London and is best known as an interdisciplinary artist working across a variety of media. Fiona has realised several large-scale sculptural works with clients such as Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Beacon South Quarter and, more recently, the Vocational Education Board, and has participated in numerous group exhibitions both nationally and internationally. She has had several solo exhibitions and been the recipient of several funding and residency awards. In 2014, she returned to her creative roots in contemporary jewellery for which she has garnered considerable recognition. In 2017, she was bestowed a Golden Fleece Special Award in support of her practice. Fiona was awarded a residency at the Leitrim Sculpture Centre in 2011 in the north west where she continues to be a studio holder. She works primarily to commission and makes bespoke and limited edition pieces. In 2019, she was awarded the commission to design and create the inaugural RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards and participated in ‘Other Dimensions’, a three-person exhibition at the Luan Gallery in Athlone.

About Farmleigh Gallery
Farmleigh Gallery, managed by the Office of Public Works (OPW), is one of the most prominent exhibition spaces in Ireland. Situated within Farmleigh House and Estate, the Gallery works closely with national and international cultural and artistic bodies and embassies enabling the exhibition of works which are of artistic, cultural and historical importance.

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 Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCI currently has more than 60 member organisations and over 3,000 registered clients.

< back