what’s gaelic for fearless design? the work of these prodigal irish artists

The Oliver Sears Gallery in Dublin is gearing up for their summer exhibition of sophisticated Irish craft curated by Frances McDonald – and they’re never ones to disappoint!  A contemporary gallery committed to showing the best of Irish emerging and established artists, FIVE into FOUR (on view 20 June – 26 July 2013) include pieces in wood, ceramics, and a personal fave, metals.

Coilin O Dubhghaill is one of the brilliant young designers keeping alive the age-old tradition of silversmithing.  There are too few artists like him, so we must show our support for O Dubhghaill!  His works have a noticeably Eastern influence and that is no coincidence – he studied in Japan and received a doctorate for research into traditional Japanese metalwork techniques (the Japanese have a marvelous history of incorporating different metals into stunning pieces).  One of my favorite pieces in this show is his “Ritual 9” (main image).  Taking a cue from traditional Japanese koros, this vessel has the most beautiful speckled finish.  The paper-thin silver is also an amazing contrast to what appears to be a very weighty object.


Another of his works in the show is this elegant bowl “Ceo 7”.  Fashioned from a copper and gold alloy, I first took this for pottery until I looked closer.  An “O Dubhghaill” piece for sure, I thought, this time working outside of silver to create this earthy, yet sophisticated piece.  While we mere mortals would think working with copper or silver is the same, the talent in bringing these two different pieces to such a high level of perfection and beauty is actually quite a feat!
The other four artists in the show each add another interesting facet to the exhibition.  Take a look at the four-square image as reference, clockwise from top left.
Francis Lambe is known for her sculptural ceramics.  “Oval Oval #1”, is an egg shaped piece that just rocks!  The surface has a stippled decoration that draws on Lambe’s inspiration and interest in biology and sea life.  A great example of chaos begetting beauty, Nuala O’Donovan creates works from ceramic “wires” that develop organic forms while retaining the loose irregularity common in her oeuvre.  Liam Flynn is the wood worker in the midst of the group.  His “Ash Vessel on base #2” is exquisite. Period.  He chose one ash tree and created all the pieces in the show from this one tree.  I love his use of the natural markings in the wood, which provide such a dramatic contrast to the upper and lower halves of this work.  Finally, there is Sara Flynn (whom I wrote about back in Dec 2011).  She uses porcelain to perfection.  As with the others, the texture of each vase is inviting, encouraging you to handle the vase to truly appreciate its complexity.
Each is a modern artist keeping alive the flame of their time-honored craft.  Their creativity and use of familiar materials in novel and exciting forms is hugely inspiring.  My hat’s off to these five artists who are keeping Ireland at the forefront of great modern design and my thanks to Frances McDonald for allowing me access to the show.

richard rabel
richard rabel: interiors + art
interior design and art advising
new york city

image credits: courtesy of the artists and the Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin