Announcing PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection 2019-2020

Posted 14.02.19

24 of Ireland’s top makers chosen for Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s 2019-20 edition of PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection in special exhibition at the OPW’s Dublin Castle

Image (l to r): Lilias by John Lee, Carrot Spoons by Annemarie Reinhold, Dearcán Diptych by Alan Meredith

  • PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection is the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s flagship biennial volume of the best of Irish contemporary craft in an international context, as chosen by an independent jury
  • For the 2019-20 edition, a panel of three international experts convened in Kilkenny for three days to review all applications and they chose 24 makers from a wide field. In their deliberations, the panel sought to identify the most outstanding works in terms of craftsmanship, innovation and creative vision
  • New work from the chosen makers will be exhibited at the OPW’s Coach House Gallery, Dublin Castle from Thursday, 21st February to 19th May 2019 in a special exhibition entitled Surface Matters, presented by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW), and curated by UK-based expert, Liz Cooper
  • The winner of the RDS Irish Craft Bursary, a partnership between the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland and the RDS (worth €10,000), will be announced as part of the launch event

Surface Matters, an exhibition of work from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection 2019-20, will open on Thursday, 21st February 2019 at the Coach House Gallery, Dublin Castle, hosted by the Office of Public Works. Twenty-four makers were selected by an independent expert panel for demonstrating excellence in craftsmanship, design quality and technical skill by international standards. The accompanying biennial publication will be launched at the opening and the winner of the RDS Irish Craft Bursary (worth €10,000) will also be announced. The exhibition will be officially opened by Francesca McDonagh, Chief Executive of Bank of Ireland.

Curated by Liz Cooper, Surface Matters  considers the extraordinary skill and attention to detail involved in the creation of these contemporary craft objects. “Surface in craft and design is not simply a lick of paint or a gloss of varnish. Instead it speaks to us of the skill and knowledge of the maker, in their understanding, handling and processing of the materials that make up the completed forms, be they raw matter like raw metal, wood, yarn or clay, or those mediated by manufacture, including molten glass, alloys, glazes and varnishes,” Cooper said.

The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s PORTFOLIO programme, initially launched in 2005, was developed to actively grow the reputations and potential of designer-makers across all major disciplines of contemporary craft. The programme currently features over 140 of Ireland’s most renowned makers. PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection, which is part of the broader PORTFOLIO programme, is a biennial publication with a coinciding touring exhibition showcasing a select group of the best of Irish contemporary design and craft in a world-class context. The publication is used to increase awareness and understanding of leading Irish makers and their current work, acting as a valuable reference for collectors and galleries worldwide.

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: “The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland continually strives to support Irish designers and makers in achieving excellence and to enhance the reputation of these highly skilled craftspeople both in Ireland and abroad. This exhibition showcases an extraordinary collection of pieces and the accompanying publication provides a contemporary source for national and international curators, collectors and commissioning bodies. This year, we are delighted to partner with the RDS to present a new award, the RDS Irish Craft Bursary, and to work with the Office of Public Works in showing this exhibition at Dublin Castle.”

John McMahon, Commissioner with OPW, said: “We are delighted to partner with the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland to host this wonderful exhibition featuring such prestigious makers. Many of the designers have exhibited both at home and abroad to critical acclaim and this exhibition is a great opportunity to bring their work before a wider audience in the beautiful surrounds of Dublin Castle.”

The winner of the RDS Irish Craft Bursary will be announced at the exhibition. This is a new award which is open to all members of the PORTFOLIO programme, both those who are featured in the Critical Selection publication and also those included in the wider, online programme, and is for activity taking place in 2019. Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of the RDS, commented: “The RDS is committed to helping Ireland’s vibrant craft sector fulfil its potential and last year we announced significantly increased direct financial support towards this. This new RDS Irish Craft Bursary, valued at €10,000, is part of those changes, and will be an important new financial support for established craft makers who are setting a benchmark of excellence with their work.”

Following its inaugural run at the Coach House Gallery, Dublin Castle, Surface Matters will tour to Artesania Catalunya – CCAM, Barcelona in June 2019 and will show at National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny from November 2019 to February 2020.

The designer-makers included in PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection 2019-20 are:

Roger Bennett (wood)
Emma Bourke (glass) – new to the Critical Selection
Úna Burke (leatherworking)
Mike Byrne (ceramics)
Eimear Conyard (metals)
Jack Doherty (ceramics)
Sara Flynn (ceramics)
Stevan Hartung (furniture)
Jennifer Hickey (ceramics)
Joe Hogan (basketry)
John Lee (furniture)
Ciaran McGill (furniture) – new to the Critical Selection
David McCaul (jewellery) – new to the Critical Selection
Alan Meredith (wood) – new to the Critical Selection
Cecilia Moore (metals)
Cara Murphy (metals)
Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill (metals)
Stephen O’Briain (furniture)
Nuala O’Donovan (ceramics)
Annemarie Reinhold (metals) – new to the Critical Selection
Sasha Sykes (furniture)
Joseph Walsh (furniture)
Grainne Watts (ceramics)
Zelouf & Bell (furniture)

-ENDS-

Contact: Lily Killeen, Fleishman-Hillard Dublin, on lily.killeen@fleishmaneurope.com or 01 618 8444.

Notes for editors

Exhibition Details

The exhibition will be on display in the Coach House Gallery, beside the Dubhlinn Garden, Dublin Castle. Admission to the exhibition is free.

Dates: Friday, 22nd February until Sunday, 19th May 2019
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday – 10.00 to 17.00
Admission: Free

About Liz Cooper
Liz Cooper is a curator who specialises in contemporary craft, especially art textiles. She works with many artists and organisations, building audiences and contexts for craft and design practice. Since 2014 Liz has been part-time development manager for Design-Nation, a portfolio of leading designers and craftspeople in the UK. Previously she worked for The National Centre for Craft & Design, Smiths Row and Contemporary Art Society. Liz has a busy independent practice as a curator, consultant and writer. In 2018 she curated ‘The 62 Group of Textile Artists’ exhibition ‘Ctrl/Shift’ for MAC Birmingham, which is now touring until early 2020. Other exhibition projects include ‘What Do I Need to Do to Make It OK’, ‘Beauty is the First Test’ and for West Dean ‘Artists Meet Their Makers’. Liz studied textiles at Goldsmiths College, London, and has been a core member of CraftNet since 2014. lizcooper.org

About PORTFOLIO
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland’s PORTFOLIO programme actively works to grow the reputations and potential of designer-makers across all major disciplines of contemporary craft. Featured makers are those producing innovative objects, either one-off pieces or limited editions, and working to the highest standards of design quality and technical skill. Selected by an international expert panel, the programme currently features over 140 of Ireland's most renowned makers in disciplines including ceramics, glass, jewellery, metals, paper, textiles, fashion, calligraphy, furniture, woodturning, stone and basketry. PORTFOLIO: Critical Selection, which is part of the broader PORTFOLIO programme, is a biennial publication of the best of Irish contemporary design and craft in a world-class context. The publication aims to increase awareness and understanding of leading Irish makers and their current work.  portfolio.dccoi.ie

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 over 60 member organisations and more than 3,000 registered clients. dccoi.ie

About The RDS 
The RDS (Royal Dublin Society) is one of the world’s oldest philanthropic organisations; it was founded in 1731 and works to see Ireland thrive culturally and economically. It does this by working across a number of areas, including the arts. Craft is an important component of its arts work programme. rds.ie

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