New Exhibition makes the Invisible Visible: Crowded Thresholds to Open in Kilkenny in August

Posted 26.07.19

New Exhibition makes the Invisible Visible: Crowded Thresholds to Open in Kilkenny in August

Image (l to r): works by Joe Caslin, Caoimhe McGuckin, Max Brosi, Niall Sweeney (Pony)

10th August – 10th November 2019

Crowded Thresholds, an exhibition presenting thought-provoking pieces by established and emerging practitioners working across different disciplines in applied art, design and visual art, will open at the National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny on Saturday, 10th August. Curated by Fiona Mulholland and coinciding with the centenary of Freud's essay, The Uncanny, the exhibition explores ‘emotional geography’, generating a fascinating visual interplay between authentic storytelling and artistic expression.

Presented with a sense of playfulness and infectious imagination, this intriguing group exhibition will display 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.

One of the exhibition participants, renowned illustrator Joe Caslin, is also developing a new monumental installation for Kilkenny city. He has taken inspiration for this new work from the vitality of the arts and craft in Kilkenny and the intrinsic value of creative expression for our culture, society and wellbeing. This new project is produced by the National Design & Craft Gallery in partnership with Kilkenny Arts Festival.

Fiona Mulholland, Crowded Thresholds curator, commented: “Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Freud’s essay The Uncanny, 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.”

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: “In line with our vision for Ireland to be recognised for its culture of design and craft, the National Design & Craft Gallery showcases the extraordinary work of innovative and talented designers and makers in exhibitions that explore new practices within creative expression as well as demonstrate traditional skills and techniques. We see this in Crowded Thresholds where the objects on display go beyond form and function to challenge and make us question the familiar. We are delighted to partner with the Kilkenny Arts Festival in presenting this dynamic exhibition along with a series of workshops and outreach events for all ages as part of the annual Kilkenny Arts Festival celebration.”

Running until 10 November 2019, Crowded Thresholds is curated by Fiona Mulholland and is part of the programme for the Kilkenny Arts Festival (8 – 18 August, 2019).

- ENDS –

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


Fri 9 Aug, 2pm – 5pm: Line + Narrative (16+) €25*
Masterclass in illustration techniques with Joe Caslin.

Sat 10 Aug, 1pm: Crowded Thresholds Curator’s Tour
Join curator Fiona Mulholland with exhibiting makers as they expand on the narratives in the show, discussing personal and creative investments within making processes.

Sat 10 Aug, 1pm – 4pm: Crowded Thresholds Launch
Exhibition launch with Design Cocktails courtesy of Pembroke Kilkenny.

Sat 10 + Sun 11 Aug, drop-in 11am – 4pm: Creative Construction in the Secret Garden (14+)
A collaborative build using found materials and DIY architecture, inspired by Daithi Magner’s sculpture, with Sandra McAlister.

Sun 11 Aug, 12 noon: Movement + Mindfulness (14+)*
Flow yoga in the Castle Yard with Essie Millie.

Sun 11 – Sun 18 Aug, 11am – 4pm : Secret Garden Reflective Creative Space, Castle Yard
Drop in to our peaceful secret garden retreat to relax, contemplate or make.

Tues 13 - Thur 15 Aug, 2pm, 3pm & 4pm: Children’s Craft Workshops, 1 workshop/child (6-13yrs)*
Impressive Illustrations with Caroline Schofield
Textured Textiles with Sandra Mc Allister
Clay Creatures with Brid Lyons

Sat 17 Aug, 11am – 1pm: Visible // Invisible (16+)* €10
Relax and reflect in this mindful drawing session, with Caroline Schofield.
*Booking required. For more information and to book workshops, visit

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 the National Design & Craft Gallery
Established by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in 2000, the National Design & Craft Gallery is Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design. It exhibits Irish and international designers, artists and makers who push boundaries in their engagement with the making process. Its mission is to inspire appreciation, creativity and innovation, and it plays a critical role in building understanding of craft and material culture in Ireland.

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy. DCCoI's activities are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCoI currently has more than 60 member organisations and over 3,000 registered clients.

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