Touchstone, an exhibition by Ceramics Ireland, to open at National Design & Craft Gallery on 17 Nov

Posted 08.11.17

Images (l to r): Works by Adam Frew; Alex Scott; Jennifer Hickey; Cormac Boydell. All photos by Rory Moore.

Touchstone, an exhibition by Ceramics Ireland to celebrate the breadth of Irish ceramic practice, will open at the National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny on Friday, 17 November 2017. Curated by ceramicists Tina Byrne and Elaine Riordan (editor and chairperson of Ceramics Ireland respectively) and featuring a variety of approaches to working with clay, Touchstone is a visual feast exploring form, figure, and function. The exhibition will be officially launched by Minister John Paul Phelan, T.D. at 6.30pm on opening night. 

The third exhibition in the Ceramics Ireland triennial series and coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the organisation, Touchstone debuted at Farmleigh Gallery, Phoenix Park, Dublin, on 17 June. The exhibition’s transfer to Kilkenny will provide an opportunity for national and international visitors to the area as well as local audiences to experience a comprehensive collection of contemporary Irish ceramics.

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI), said: “Ceramics Ireland is a key promoter of Irish ceramicists and their work both at home and abroad. The organisation is instrumental in championing the quality and craftsmanship of this discipline and in raising the profile of ceramics as an art form. We are thrilled to host Touchstone in Kilkenny so that visitors to this region will have the opportunity to explore this beautiful collection of works from Ireland’s established and emerging ceramic artists.

This contemporary exhibition will run at the National Design & Craft Gallery until 21 January 2018 and features 36 ceramic artists of and from Ireland, across the broad spectrum of clay practice, including sculptural, decorative, functional and installation-based works. An independent expert panel of three selected from over 100 applications and the chosen group includes the work of celebrated makers, including Frances Lambe, Cormac Boydell, Adam Frew, Sara Flynn, and Gráinne Watts, many of whom are featured in DCCoI’s PORTFOLIO progragmme. The exhibition also highlights the work of makers who are embarking on their careers such as Cathy Burke and Ann McBride, who are former DCCoI Future Maker Awards & Supports recipients, as well as Aisling McElwain, a recent graduate of the DCCoI Ceramics Skills & Design Course.

The full list of artists features:

Adam Frew | Aisling McElwain | Alex Scott | Alison Kay | Andrew Ludick | Ann McBride | Caroline Getty | Cathy Burke | Claire McLaughlin | Cormac Boydell | Deirdre McLoughlin | Elaine Riordan | Eleanor Swan | Frances Lambe | Grainne Watts | Gus Mabelson | Isobel Egan | Jack Doherty | Jennifer Hickey | Jon Pigott & Ingrid Murphy | Katharine West | Lucy Morrow | Mandy Parslow | Marcus O'Mahony | Mark Campden | Markus Jungmann | Michael Flynn | Mike Byrne | Nuala Creed | Nuala O'Donovan | Owen Quinlan | Peter Fulop | Sara Flynn | Susan O'Byrne | Tara Butler-Frey | Vicki Sutherland

Ceramics Ireland also commented: “Touchstone celebrates current contemporary ceramic practice by makers of and from Ireland. It follows on from ‘transFORM’ and ‘Centred’ in our triennial series of exhibitions, the first of which was brought about to mark the Year of Craft 2011. Each of these exhibitions has been an important benchmark and we are delighted to bring Touchstone to the National Design & Craft Gallery as we mark our 40th anniversary as a membership organisation. A distinguishing feature of this exhibition is the inclusion of a rich archive documenting and acknowledging all who have contributed to the growth of the organisation and our vibrant legacy.”

Ceramics Ireland is a membership organisation and this series of exhibitions in tandem with other activities, prioritises activation, education and promotion of the sector to guarantee the future landscape of ceramics in Ireland, while raising the international profile of Irish ceramics.

Touchstone is produced by Ceramics Ireland and is co-supported by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) and The Office of Public Works (OPW).

- ENDS –

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Tara Walsh - / Emer Igbokwe - 



Fri 17 Nov, 6pm: Curators’ Tour & Meet the Makers
With curators Tina Byrne and Elaine Riordan and makers. 

Tues 21 Nov – Fri 15 Dec: School Gallery Visits
Our gallery educators guide your class in an exploration of craft and design. 

Sat 25 Nov, 11.00am + 12.30pm: Family Day: Exploring Clay with artist Tom Campbell (free)
Special 15-minute performance of 'The Clayhead' by Tom will take place at 12 midday for both workshop groups.

Sat 9 Dec, 11.00am + 12.30pm: Family Day: Festive Ceramic Decorations (free)
With ceramicist Maeve Sookram of Sevensisters Ceramics. 

Thurs 14 Dec, 6.30pm & 8.00pm: Late Date: Festive Making – Wild Wreaths & Porcelain Crafts €15/workshop, €25 to attend both workshops
Create wild wreaths with dried fruits with Julie Calder Potts of Highbank Orchards and porcelain crafts with Cliona Geraghty of Grennan Mill Craft School. Mulled beverages and mince pies provided. 

Thurs 11 Jan, 11am – 4pm: Masterclass with ceramicist Jack Doherty at Island Mill, Burrellspark, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny [€15]
Jack Doherty talks materials, processes and inspiration followed by a demonstration on how Jack makes his soda-fired porcelain bowls.

Thurs 11 Jan, 6.30pm: Meet the Makers at the National Design and Craft Gallery (free)
With Jack Doherty, Gus Mabelson and Isobel Egan. 

Sat 13 Jan, 11.00am + 12.30pm: Family Day: Potter's Wheel (free)
With ceramicist Aisling McElwain. 

Sat 20 Jan, 11am – 1.30pm: Individual Portfolio Critique Sessions (free)
With Gus Mabelson and Dan Eames. Suitable for those hoping to apply for ceramics courses or emerging practitioners. 

Booking required - email or call 056 7796 151 for details.

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 Ceramics Ireland
Ceramics Ireland’s mission is to be the leading resource organisation for ceramics activity in Ireland. Membership is comprised of artists, craftspeople, collectors and friends of the society who are primarily based throughout Ireland. A voluntary non-profit organisation, it relies on membership fees and grants to enable it to provide yearly activities, exhibitions and workshops to promote Irish ceramics and its members, both nationally and internationally, and to raise the profile of ceramics as a collectable art form. The Ceramics Ireland magazine is produced biannually and distributed throughout Ireland and has a growing overseas subscription base.

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 64 member organisations and over 3,200 registered clients. 

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Design & Crafts Council Ireland, Castle Yard, Kilkenny R95 CAA6, Ireland

+353 56 7761804 Email Contacts