Culture in the Making in Kilkenny

Alex Scott, grannie’s wee chair, 2013 Photography by Sylvain Deleu

Alex Scott, grannie’s wee chair, 2013 Photography by Sylvain Deleu


February 09 2014

As craft theory gains recognition alongside other critical discourses within visual culture, it is hoped that, in presenting and writing on this area, curators and commentators continue to engage the viewer or reader, offer commentary and even ignite debate.

Unfortunately this is not always the case.  Commercial decisions sometimes dictate and exhibitions that prove to be the best revenue generators, may not offer curatorial innovation or excellence. Group shows can also be disappointing as the temptation to include ‘names’ sometimes outweighs the need to challenge the viewer, provide reflection or simply mark a moment in time.

Culture Craft, currently showing at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny, isn’t one of these shows. Curated by Seliena Coyle and created for UK City of Culture 2013 – Derry-Londonderry, it presents work from a range of contemporary makers from different craft disciplines. Challenged to ‘contemplate the notion that one’s culture has an impact beyond sentimentality’ this exhibition has plenty to say and reinforces the notion that craft practices are now firmly embedded within multiple cultural contexts.

As Dr. Audrey Whitty points out in her catalogue essay, ‘if the inherent worth and cultural significance of the craft arts are to be nourished and protected, then exhibitions such as this will go a long way to acknowledging their massive collective identity for this country, on both a national and international scale.  Culture Craft is not to be missed.


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Frances McDonald