September 27 2015
I had the absolute pleasure of working with Oliver Sears Gallery and Brian Kennedy over the last year on an exhibition entitled In Residence, which features contemporary Irish fine and applied art as well as leading names from the past century. Not only did it give me the opportunity to once again work with some of Ireland’s most renowned makers such as Sara Flynn, Liam Flynn, Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill and Joseph Walsh but also to contribute to the exhibition catalogue. Each of the 8 makers selected for this exhibition have the ability to create objects that occupy a precious space, where extraordinary craft and art intersect to create something of value, of depth and of meaning. This made the task of trying to sum up the importance of their work in the confines of a short introductory essay somewhat daunting. It seems that, when confronted with objects of extraordinary meaning, the written word can suddenly seem quite inadequate.
In Residence opens in London on October 1st and naturally, most attention will focus on the inclusion of a never-before-seen-in-public portrait by Lucian Freud, Donegal Man, Profile. My attention, of course, will always be on the objects. Writing in today’s Sunday Times, Culture Magazine, journalist Helen Chislett notes that Oliver Sears Gallery has always questioned the hierarchy of applied and fine arts. ‘In the west’, says Sears, ‘we are so uptight about objects – we seem to see only in 2D. But why shouldn’t we introduce the applied arts into the lexicon of our audience.’ I couldn’t agree more.