Stunning multi-venue European exhibition to open at two locations in Kilkenny in February 2019

Posted 25.01.19

Image (l to r): works by Joe Hogan, Caroline Schofield and Annemarie Reinhold



Kilkenny to host major exhibition of works by 74 makers from 19 European countries at dual locations: the National Design & Craft Gallery and Kilkenny Castle, 9th February – 23rd June 2019

Monumentality / Fragility, a major multi-venue exhibition of contemporary crafts featuring 74 makers from 19 European countries, including seven Irish participants, will open in Kilkenny on Saturday, 9th February 2019. In partnership with the Office of Public Works, this unique showcase of over 170 exceptional objects will be displayed at two locations – the National Design & Craft Gallery, Castle Yard and Kilkenny Castle – the first of this scale in the Marble City.

Ireland is the only country to host this prestigious exhibition for the European Prize for Applied Arts outside of Belgium. Monumentality / Fragility will be officially opened at the National Design & Craft Gallery and Kilkenny Castle on Saturday, 9th February from 4pm to 6pm with guest speaker Gaëlle Cornut, Director of BeCraft. Visitors are also welcome to join a seminar entitled Materiality & Process, which will include talks by a number of exhibiting makers, in the Parade Tower in Kilkenny Castle from 1.30pm to 4pm on the day of the launch. 

This exhibition is the 2018 edition of the European Prize for Applied Arts for which artists were invited to draw inspiration from the paradoxical nature of the dual theme, Monumentality / Fragility, proposed by BeCraft (previously World Crafts Council – Belgique Francophone). Over 600 makers from across Europe applied to the open call from which 74 were selected by an expert jury. The seven Irish participants are basketmaker Joe Hogan; silversmith Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill; ceramicist Nicola Kelly; textile artists Caroline Schofield and Niki Collier; and jewellers Eimear Conyard and Annemarie Reinhold.

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, commented: “Hosting this large-scale European contemporary craft exhibition across two venues in Kilkenny is a great privilege for the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. It is also an opportunity to share the stunning work of a diverse group of European artists with the public – among which there is a strong Irish representation – and to display the very best of modern craft practice within the historical setting of Kilkenny Castle as well as the National Design & Craft Gallery. We are delighted to work with the Office of Public Works to present Monumentality / Fragility in both venues and hope that visitors will enjoy these beautiful works created by highly skilled craftspeople from Ireland and throughout Europe.”

Speaking about the exhibition on behalf of the OPW, Mary Heffernan commented: “We are delighted to partner with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland to showcase this wonderful exhibition taking place at both venues. Kilkenny has become synonymous with excellence in art, design and craftsmanship and this collaboration represents a great opportunity to bring this array of talented artists from around Europe before a new audience in one of Ireland’s finest national historic properties.” 

The European Prize for Applied Arts aims to reward the best creations of contemporary expression in applied arts and craftsmanship. The exhibitors and the winners of the BeCraft Master Prize, metalsmith Adi Toch (€3,500) and the World Crafts Council Europe Young Talent Prize, jeweller Takaoshi Terajima (€3,000) were chosen by international experts on the basis of criteria of artistic merit, technical mastery and innovation. The European Prize for Applied Arts exhibition was launched in the Grand Hall, Mons Anciens Abattoirs in Belgium on 20th October, 2018 and is an initiative of BeCraft in partnership with Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, the City of Mons, WCC-Europe and WCC-International.

According to Louise Allen, President of WCC-Europe, from a European perspective the theme ‘Monumentality and Fragility’ is apt. “As we navigate our way through uncertain times, this exhibition seeks to remind us of the fragility of our shared European community. Hosting this exhibition at the National Design & Craft Gallery provides an environment for exchange and dialogue that contributes to our shared understanding of how culture can help to build community and bring cohesion,” she said.

The exhibition is presented in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW). Admission to the National Design & Craft Gallery is free. Free access to the exhibition in Kilkenny Castle is available by request at reception.

Exhibitors: Jordi Aparicio / Peter Beard / Ulla Bech-Bruun / Cécile Bertrand / Claudia Biehne / Marian Bulenga / Juli Bolanos-Durman / Kris Campo / Sébastien Carré / Valérie Ceulemans / Ray Church / Gabriela Cohn / Niki Collier / Trinidad Contreras / Eimear Conyard / Mária Danielova / Karine De Baets / Marion Delarue / Francine Delmotte / Patricia Domingues / Dot Melanin / Sally Fawkes & Richard Jackson / Ann-Kathrin Hartel / Ariane Hartmann / Dorottya Hoffman / Joe Hogan / Lucie Houdkova / Statira Jazayeri  / Nicola Kelly / Jane King / Zuzana Kubelkova / Julia Maria Künnap / Nicholas Lees  /  James Lethbridge / Lena Lindahl / Reka Lorincz  / Kadri Mälk / Vicktoria Matsuka / Harry Morgan  / Nadège Mouyssinat  / Susan Nemeth /  Janne Nes /  Artis Nimanis / Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill / Ou Jiun-You / Wiebke Pandikow / Annemarie Reinhold  / Loukia Richards / Päivi Rintaniemi / Bruno Romanelli / Kristina Rothe / Rita Sarafian / Helena Schepens / Martin Schlotz  / Caroline Schofield / Karin Seufert / Astrid Sleire / Alejandra Solar / Sophie Southgate / Dimitar Stankov / Anna Talbot / Takaoshi Terajima / Adi Toch / Flora Vagi / Felieke Van Der Leest /  Ute Van Der Plaats / Reinhilde Van Grieken / Karen Vanmol  / Graziano Visintin / Olivia Walker / Simon Ward / Fabienne Withofs / Annamaria Zanella

About the Irish craftspeople featured in Monumentality / Fragility:

Niki Collier (textile artist)
Niki Collier is a Dublin-based designer-maker who explores sources of empowerment and balance. She creates objects in felt, fibre and wearable technology to comment on interrelationships between emotions and cultural constructs. Her work is distinguished for its intimate understanding of handmade craftsmanship, informed by science and community.

Artist statement:
These textile sculptures are inspired by microscopic photos of viruses. This work intends to provoke discourse about the dichotomous relationship between function and form. The appearance of these viruses and what they can do evoke the opposite scale of our emotions. On one hand, these felt representations of viruses look cute, colourful and in this medium even cuddly. On the other hand, they can cause a lot of discomfort, their impact could have long term effect on our health, and in certain instances their invasion could just kill us.

Eimear Conyard (jeweller)
Eimear Conyard is Course Manager at the DCCoI Centre of Excellence in Jewellery and Goldsmithing and is a contemporary jewellery designer-maker and silversmith based in Kilkenny. She previously lectured at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University in the UK and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada. Her pieces are an exploration of material and form. Exceptional quality of craftsmanship and accuracy is carried through both her jewellery and silversmithing. That jewellery is not merely adornment but also an object independent from the body is a driving force in Eimear’s work. Whether wearable or sculptural, a marriage of contrasting materials and surface finishes enhances the pieces.

Artist statement:
These works are influenced by the Bronze Age gold collection in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin which have a monumental cultural significance, but their physical forms depict a remarkable survival; they are fragile treasures from the past. My work is an expression of an imagined continuity between the Bronze Age and the present. I seek to add to the monumental cannon of Irish artisan works. Without a clear written history to convey the concepts that occupied the Bronze Age Irish mind, we rely on the visual to find context for the present and wonder at how fragile the work that we make today will appear to future generations.

Joe Hogan (basket maker)
Joe Hogan has been making baskets at Loch na Fooey, Clonbur, Co. Galway since 1978 and in that time has earned a reputation for making strong, durable baskets of the highest quality. He creates unique sculptural objects using traditional basketry techniques which take inspiration from the land and incorporate found objects such as pieces of bog-wood. The colours in these award-winning baskets are those of the natural willows which are grown by the maker himself at Loch na Fooey. Joe also makes Irish indigenous, functional baskets such as the creel.

Artist statement:
I have tried to make a form with monumentality and yet it is from humble material. The ash wood could have been burned for fuel wood if it had not made its way to me. Now it has a second life for a while but nothing is permanent.

Nicola Kelly (ceramicist)
Nicola Kelly uses a broad media palette that includes clay and thread. Central themes in her work most often revolve around issues that can be related to the human condition, fragmented time, isolated shards of memories and allegory mired in the quotidian. Nicola achieved an M.A. in Art & Process, Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork in 2018 and recent exhibitions include Future Marginalia, MA Graduation Show at Crawford College of Art & Design in 2017 and New Artists Exhibition at The Blue House Gallery, Schull, Co. Cork in 2015. She was presented with Best Thesis Award by Visual Artists Ireland in 2014.

Artist statement:
Monumentality and fragility are used in my work to explore loss and death. Through form, condition and position, this monument that comprises 512 perilously stacked porcelain objects corresponds to the number of days my partner survived from diagnosis to death. The predominant characteristic of ceramics – fragility – has been used as a strategy to provide a reflection on the precarious nature of human existence. I have used the very fragility of this material as my subject matter to represent a state of extreme tension that indicate and threaten a sickening inevitability of impending destruction. Often repetition is used as a visual device to overcome issues of scale and that can facilitate grand visual gestures. I use this strategy to set up a tension or dialectical impact with its audience. I employ the fragility of clay as a central motif to reflect on the precarious nature of human existence. The use of the persistent traditional and ancient vessel form with its embedded knowledge of skills and ideas is used in my work for the potential semiotic significance it can offer while it also extends this medium’s unique possibility of combining form and surface.

Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill (silversmith)
Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill’s research interests focus on the intersection between traditional craft processes and new technologies, exploring the appropriation of industrial technologies for craft production and the development of new ways of using traditional craft processes and materials in the production of studio work. Ó Dubhghaill trained at Grennan Mill Craft School, Kilkenny and Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, graduating in 1996. He worked as a designer for industry in India, the Philippines and the UK. In 2005 he received a doctorate from the metalwork department at the National University of Art and Music, Tokyo Geidai, Japan. Ó Dubhghaill was appointed Senior Research Fellow in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University in 2007.

Artist statement:
In this work, the thin skin of the sheet metal is forged, stretched, and expanded to form a monumental presence from multiple pieces using welding and hammer forming techniques. In these two pieces I have used the form of a tulipiere vase as a starting point for this investigation of form and a reflection on the relationship between object and value. Tulipiere are an intriguing example of specialised product design. They originate in the 17th century Dutch Tulip Mania. I'm interested in them as monuments to excess from a time that parallels more recent fragile economic bubbles.

Annemarie Reinhold (jeweller)
Annemarie Reinhold is a maker and designer who creates work inspired by the natural world. Using traditional metalsmithing techniques, Annemarie creates sculptural and wearable work which captures the movement and beauty of the constant flux in nature. Annemarie initially studied Art, Craft and Design at the Grennan Mill Craft School in Co. Kilkenny. She graduated with a Degree in Metals and Jewellery from the National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2016. In 2014 she won the Newbridge Silverware Design Competition and a Future Maker Award in 2016. From 2016 to 2017 Annemarie took part in Bishopsland, a residential course focusing on traditional silversmithing and jewellery skills. Currently, she resides in Co. Kilkenny and is developing her skills at the Jewellery and Goldsmithing Skills & Design Course at the DCCoI Centre of Excellence in Jewellery and Goldsmithing at Castle Yard, Kilkenny. 

Artist statement
When I think of monumentality I think of eternal qualities. By creating work in silver, I use the durable qualities of the metal to capture the constant flux in nature, and to treasures these moments. In nature, everything is in constant flux. I wish it would be possible to preserve special moments, to capture their beauty. This is what I aspire to achieve by making structural forms, reflecting delicate and fragile moments in something that will last; the durability of metal. A unity of monumental and fragile characteristics.

Caroline Schofield (textile artist)
Caroline Schofield’s work is driven by an engagement with craft and a curiosity about narratives contained within materials from industrial steel, stone, fabric, string and found objects. She manipulates and creates installations with these items, referencing personal histories, place, people and memory. Her current work focuses on materials to form a mediation with people on memory. She is particularly interested in participatory and collaborative art and health work, and has collaborated with artists’, women’s and children’s groups. Caroline lives and works in Kilkenny. She studied Textiles in NCAD and received an MA in Art & Process from Crawford College of Art & Design in 2015.

Artist statement:
Title - Transitory
It’s 2018 - we are living in the age of humanity - a powerful race walks on earth - but time and nature are unkind and temporary. This work looks at a paradigm of life and time, the stitch forms a temporary figure and shadow on the wall, a specimen held by pins impermanent once they are removed.


About World Crafts Council – Europe
WCC – Europe is one of the five regional branches (Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe) of the World Crafts Council, an international, non-profit organisation recognised by UNESCO and founded in 1964. WCC – Europe’s mission is to elevate awareness and appreciation of crafts as an integral part of society’s cultural, social and economic wellbeing.

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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