Vase - Function Reviewed

Vase - Function Reviewed

Farmleigh Gallery

19 January – 26 February 2017


Vase - Function Reviewed
Farmleigh Gallery 19 January – 26 February 2017

Presented at National Craft Gallery from:           6 AUGUST – 6 NOVEMBER 2016

Full information about the makers can be found here:

“I have always loved the word VASE, its double pronunciation, and with it, its reference to place and class. Within the world of craft and design, this same small word is even more charged and divisive. It’s seldom found within contemporary ceramics, where the less functional word ‘vessel’ is almost always used. I wanted to curate an exhibition that would embrace the functional, examine its history and explore its boundaries.” Brian Kennedy, Curator

Ever since the Grecian Urn, the vase has a tradition as a container of narrative and vehicle for storytelling. This new exhibition looks at how contemporary artists are still addressing issues of the personal and the political within and on, their work. Curated by Brian Kennedy, The Vase - Function Reviewed will be at the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny from 6 August to 6 November 2016 and forms part of the programme for Kilkenny Arts Festival 2016.

Ceramics play a huge part in all our daily lives. We wash from a ceramic sink, drink our morning tea or coffee from a ceramic mug, eat from a ceramic dish and when we want to cheer up a room we put flowers in a ceramic vase. Many contemporary artists take these daily objects and rituals and investigate them through their work. This exhibition focuses on the vase, an object we all have in our lives, and looks at it through the eyes of the artist.

VASE: Function Reviewed debates issues of functionality in ceramics through a series of works by Irish and international artists. The exhibition showcases a range of objects, from the consciously matching to the gloriously mismatched, the proudly ‘functional’ to the emphatically ‘dysfunctional’, the ‘useful’ and the ‘useless’. It offers a lively and stimulating debate on form versus function within contemporary ceramics and encourages an animated debate on hierarchies within contemporary ceramics, making us look anew at the objects that surround us.

Featuring artists from Europe, Africa and Asia, VASE: Function Reviewed places work by Irish artists such as Sara Flynn, Alison Kay and Derek Wilson within a broader international context. The exhibition also includes work by Kate Malone, one of the judges from The Great British Throw Down TV series, Babs Hannen, one of the best regarded Dutch ceramists and Hwang Kap Sun, an emerging Korean maker with recent shows in Paris and Geneva. Visitors can also enjoy the work of Carol McNicoll, Alison Britton and Janice Tchalenko - 3 of the 5 women that are credited with changing the direction of studio ceramics in the 1970s. It presents a wide range of approaches from the functional to the more sculptural/abstract this exhibition provides an insight into the issues and concerns addressed by contemporary artists through clay.

On Tour

Farmleigh Gallery, Dublin 19 January 2017 – 26 February 2017

Education & Outreach

Farmleigh: Floral Installation by Master Florist Lamber de Bie from Sat 11 - Sat 17 February Gallery Talk at 3pm on Sat 11 February

Master Florist Lamber de Bie will design a special floral installation, ‘Sculptural Floral Arrangements', which will run from Saturday 11th to Friday 17th February as part of VASE: Function Reviewed at Farmleigh Gallery. Curator Brian Kennedy invited Lamber to select a number of vases featured in this exhibition, allowing their forms to influence the choice of flowers used to create sculptural floral arrangements in dialogue with the exhibition. VASE: Function Reviewed features the work of 29 artists from Europe, Africa and Asia, and exhibits at Farmleigh Gallery until the 26th of February.

More info

Interactive Installation: Clay Collection Sat 6 & Sun 7 August, 12.30pm – 4.30pm

Reflecting the theme of groupings and multiples in The Vase - Function Reviewed exhibition, ceramic artists Caroline Getty, Amy Mackle and Ashley Sheppard construct an installation of handmade clay pots in the Castle Yard. All are welcome to drop in to coil, pinch or build and decorate a pot, adding to the growing clay collection.

Kilkenny Arts Festival Children's Workshops Tues 9, Wed 10 & Thurs 11 August, at 2pm, 3pm & 4pm

Geometric Shapes with Mary Conroy

How do designers create 3D designs? Find out how with ceramic designer Mary Conroy, using laser cut flat pattern nets to construct unusual geometric 3D shapes. Be inspired by surface drawings in the VASE exhibition, to sketch up designs and create your own bespoke vases.

Vivid Vases with Kate Murtagh Sheridan

What imprint texture patterns will you design? Ceramic artist Kate Murtagh Sheridan leads a playful clay and plaster-casting workshop. Draw inspiration from the textured, bold and bright pieces in the VASE exhibition and Kate’s colourful ceramic sculptures, to create your own vivid imprint pattern vases.

Clay Creatures with Brid Lyons

Imagine a fantastic fun clay creature. Inspired by animal shapes and creatures in the VASE exhibition and Brid Lyons’ clay sculpted people and animals. Invent and design your own imaginary creature, then get your fingers into wet clay to sculpt and model your clay creature in 3D.

Meet The Maker: Traditional Skills Contemporary Approach Thurs 25 August, 6.30pm

Join ceramicist Mike Byrne as he talks about his experience working with clay; starting his career in KDW, and his use of traditional ceramic skills combined with a contemporary design approach. This event is programmed as part of Heritage Week.

Meet The Maker: Culture, Identity & Myth in Clay with Helen Doherty Thurs 1 September, 6.30pm

Helen Doherty gives a special gallery talk to coincide with the Ceramics Ireland International Festival in Thomastown. Helen is of Dutch and Irish origin and grew up in South Africa and England; providing her with a rich reservoir of images and memories to draw on. Helen speaks about her interests in the relationship between identity and place; myth making and the role culture plays in moulding who we become. This event as part of the Ceramics Ireland International Festival.

Culture Night Throwdown Fri 16 September, 5pm – 10pm

Bring your picnic and join us for a craft Throwdown on Culture Night! Adults can enjoy a glass of wine while children roll up their sleeves and get crafting in our clay workshops. Curator Brian Kennedy talks Flowers & Form with Master Florist Lamber de Bie. Musician Rory Grubb performs with The Electric Ceramophone; his very own custom-made, ceramic percussion instrument. Our Culture Night focus is on clay; from discovering where it comes from to workshops exploring tactility, creating vessels and surface decoration; to seeing dramatic Barrel Firings.

Highlights include:

Talk: Flowers & Form Brian Kennedy in conversation with Lamber de Bie

Music: Electric Ceramophone with Rory Grubb

Demo: Raku Barrel Firing with Jane Seymour

Workshop: Pinched Vessels with Maeve Sookram

Sculptural Arrangements with Lamber de Bie Thurs 22 September, 6.30pm

As part of the floral installation in VASE: Function Reviewed, Lamber de Bie presents a special demonstration in creating sculptural floral arrangements. Lamber’s designs with flowers are often architectural and structural, with a rich sense of colour and pattern. He often deconstructs or reimagines traditional bouquets and his passion for Dutch orange tulips is paired with an appreciation of an indigenous Irish hedgerow, rich with brambles, texture and plant forms that come together and work as a painting. BOOK on

Drawing as Research with Inga Reed Wed 5 October + Wed 26 October, 10.30am

Adult Workshops €5

Designer maker Inga Reed leads workshops exploring drawing as a tool for developing ideas. This series will utilise the VASE: Function Reviewed exhibition as a basis to explore drawing from life, using these shapes and forms as a starting point for further design development. Book by emailing:

Nature Shapes in Clay with Laura McNamara Sat 8 October, 10.30am + 12noon

Family Day Workshops

Join ceramic artist Laura McNamara to create your own clay vase with a nature-inspired design. Find out how Laura’s interest in biology inspires her ceramic creations in a curious way. Explore the exhibition and see how artists can be influenced by patterns and shapes from the natural world. Learn new sculptural skills and fun techniques to decorate your ceramic vase. BOOK by email

The Craft of Eating with Akiko Hirai Thurs 27 October, 6.30pm

As a special event for Savour Kilkenny we invite ceramic maker Akiko Hirai to speak about her carefully crafted ware; teabowls, teapots, sake bottles and platters. Akiko creates series’ of beautiful practical ceramic ware in organic hues, seeking to reflect beauty that is found in the natural world. Her work is influenced by ceramic traditions of Japan and Britain; and seems to nod to the sense of ceremony around sharing food held in both cultures.

Talk and Masterclass with Akiko Hirai Friday 28 October, 10am - 4pm at Island Mill, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny

Akiko Hirai makes practical ware using the Japanese tradition of allowing the clay to show how it wants to be fired itself. Her work also allows the viewers to find out the language of the objects in their own ways. She focuses on the interaction between the objects and the viewers. ‘I like working with dark clay. The white glazes I use act as a veil and give my work a feeling of stillness. I look for contrast in the rawness of the dark textured clay and the purity the lighter glazes.’