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What Colour is Metal? Exhibition opens in Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s National Design & Craft

Posted 06.04.2022
Press Releases

  • What Colour is Metal? Exhibition moves to Kilkenny following successful run in Dublin Castle
  • Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny Council Fidelis Doherty attends opening
  • Exhibition viewed by over 50,000 visitors in Dublin Castle
  • An exhibition celebrating innovative patination and colour application by the world’s leading metalsmith artists

Jane Adam | Peter Bauhuis | Edmond Byrne | Stuart Cairns | Alison Counsell | Rebecca de Quin | Christine Graf | Koji Hatakeyama | Nicola Heidemann | Kaori Juzu | Toru Kaneko | Ruth Laird | Jose Marin | Cecilia Moore | John Moore | Cara Murphy | Thanh-Truc Nguyen | Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill | Michael Rowe | Ryuhei Sako | Simone ten Hompel | Adi Toch | Jessica  Turrell | Roxanne Simone | Max Warren

Curated by Sara Roberts and Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill. #WhatColourIsMetal

What Colour is Metal? is an ambitious exhibition that will bring audiences on a journey of process, experimentation and mastery through the practices of 25 contemporary metalsmiths. It is an exhibition full of beautiful pieces that are fascinating in their variety, skill and creativity, and one that all visitors are sure to love. Following a successful run in Dublin Castle, which saw over 50,000 visitors attend, the exhibition, which was opened in Design & Crafts CounciI Ireland’s (DCCI) National Design & Craft Gallery on 6 April, will run until 27 July, 2022.

n attendance at the opening were Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny Council Fidelis Doherty, as well as DCCI’s CEO – Rosemary Steen, Chair – Andrew Bradley, Board and Guilds, Associations, Networks and Societies (GANS) members.

This exhibition is a consideration of the relationship between metal and colour in contemporary silversmithing and jewellery, with a mapping of relationships and practice in key centres internationally. It examines approaches ranging from colour achieved using the inherent properties of metal to react with other chemicals or heat (or a combination); the reveal of colour as a property of the metal itself; infusing the surface of aluminium with pure colour or image; the use of enamel glazes with varying degrees of transparency and opacity – but always with a fundamentally strong relationship with the surface qualities of the metal.

Through seminal works by key international practitioners, including fore-father of metal colouration research, Michael Rowe, alongside new generations of makers, it places the artists’ practices in a broader context and traces international information exchanges. It considers routes to support learning patination at all levels: from schools to professional studios; from undergraduates to specialists in conservation.

What Colour is Metal? makes vivid the connections between innovative studio practice and historic techniques, and furthermore looks to the future and profiles potential adaptations for industry. It examines notions of value, and the changes in assay regulations which have allowed a freer approach to combining precious and base metals within a single work. The possibilities for achieving colour modulations and sometimes startling colour were seemingly endless. The democratisation of the information occurred at a time when notions of precious were being re-examined, and led to a surge in the application of colour; on jewellery and vessels, but more widely in architectural practice, in mid-scale applications such as furniture and interior surfaces.  It has been described by esteemed crafts writer, critic and curator Martina Margetts as “a paradigm of the transformation of the aesthetics and creative possibilities in the last quarter of the twentieth century.”

Visit What Colour is Metal? in DCCI’s National Design & Craft Gallery, April 6th 2022 – July 27th 2022. Gallery open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 5.30pm.

#WhatColourIsMetal @DCCIreland @NDCGallery on Instagram + Facebook

@janeaadam @edmondbyrneglass @stucairnsmaker @rebeccadequin @christine_graf_enamel @nicolaheidemann @klenodiecom @ruthlaird_ @johnmoorestudio @aditoch_metalwork @jessica.turrell @_max_warren_ @titaniumgoldsmith @cecilia_moore_silversmith @silverlandscape @nguyenjewellery @coilin_o_dubhghaill @ryuheisako @roxxsimone

Image: ‘Pagoda’ by John Moore

Curators Biographies:
Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill combines studio silversmithing with an academic career in materials research. Following his doctorate for research into traditional patination techniques in 2005 from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts, in 2007 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow in J&M at Sheffield Hallam University, and is now Senior Teaching Fellow at National College of Art & Design, Dublin. He has worked on a range of projects in collaboration with the Materials and Engineering Research Institute at SHU including research into Japanese niiro patination (Arts and Humanities Research Council fellowship) and research into friction stir patterned metals (Innovate UK funding). These projects have led to international lectures and exhibitions of his work and the formation of a spinout company to exploit newfound techniques and upscale them for industry. Cóilín was awarded the Bavarian State Prize in 2015 and has work in collections including the National Museum of Ireland; the Goldsmiths’ Collection, London; and the Marzee Collection, Netherlands.

Sara Roberts is an independent exhibition curator and Senior Teaching Fellow in MA Contemporary Curation at Winchester School of Art, with a track record of projects which reveal the processes of craft: ‘Hand to Eye’ for The Winchester Gallery which documented, long term, six artists’ creative processes through film; ‘Setting the Scene: New Landscapes in Craft’ for Crafts Study Centre 2013 and a vast immersive installation, ‘Inundation’ by Laura Ellen Bacon, for Ruthin Craft Centre 2014. She was consultant curator for the Arts Council of Wales/National Trust Artists’ Residencies at NT Penrhyn Castle, 2015-17. In 1993 she curated the The Chemistry Set exhibition, examining the impact of ready access to information about the patination of metals on studio crafts, architecture and wider culture, for Crafts Council and The Southern Arts Touring Exhibition Service.


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