Tuesday 26 November 2013

WaterLand exhibition opening night photographs

Minister Jimmy Deenihan presided over the official opening of WaterLand.

It was a special night on the Dublin art calendar as the crowds poured into Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre for the opening of WaterLand exhibition on 5 November 2013.

Waterways Ireland hosted a fantastic evening with delicious food served by nearby Il Valentino.

The beautiful venue was packed with artists, designers, and collectors alike.

A great night was had by all.

Roll up! Roll up!   The exhibition closes this Saturday 30 November at 6pm.

Minister Jimmy Deenihan officially opens the exhibition.

Sarah Ross, curator of WaterLand

Dawn Livingstone, Chief Executive, Waterways Ireland

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive, Crafts Council of Ireland

Ayelet Lalor, Chairperson, The Design Tower Artists

Paper conservator Pat McBride, Minister Deenihan and Dawn Livingstone.

Artist Ayelet Lalor, Minister Deenihan, and Sarah Ross, curator.

Dawn Livingstone and John McKeown of Waterways Ireland, 
artist Emmet Kane, and Minister Jimmy Deenihan.

Filter, ceramic sculptures

Sarah Ross with Alison Lowry glass sculpture Killaloe workers.

The Liffey Swim, wooden bowl.

Elizabeth O'Kane with her stone carving FLOW

Sarah Ross with The Diver bronze by Alan Ardiff 
Grand Canal Quay watercolour by Elizabeth O'Kane

'Reflections', leather, Róisín Gartland 

Róisín Gartland with Jobst Graeve

Dawn Livingstone CEO of Waterways Ireland, Minister Deenihan, Sarah Ross and Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive, Crafts Council of Ireland discussing The Diver bronze sculpture by Alan Ardiff.

Dawn Livingstone of Waterways Ireland, Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Crafts 
Council of Ireland, Minister Jimmy Deenihan and curator Sarah Ross.

For more information contact the following:

Review of WaterLand Exhibition

Roger Bennett reviews WaterLand

Themed exhibitions are often contrived affairs, with the artists straining to make their work fit the brief, and trying awkwardly to justify tenuous connections. This most definitely is not the case with 'Water Land', an exhibition of sculpture and craft curated by Sarah Ross in Waterways Ireland's visitor centre on Grand Canal Quay.
Most of the exhibitors are residents of the neighbouring Design Tower, and therefore in daily communion with the waters of the canal; they are joined by a number of invited guests. Water is utterly essential in and for our lives, so it is not surprising that all the exhibitors have responded imaginatively to the theme.

For some, the inspiration is local, as in Elizabeth O'Kane's watercolour snapshot of the dock and its buildings, and Alan Ardiff's spiky youth diving confidently into the blue canal water, the splash cleverly created by three concentric bowl rims.  ​
Grand Canal Quay III, Watercolour, Elizabeth O'Kane
An invitation to take part in an exhibition such as this can free an artist to depart from their usual practice. Michiel De Hoog forsakes his precise violin-making, and comes up with an exuberant frieze-like painting which sets canal-bank warehouses dancing to the rhythms of the waves. Or, signature pieces can be given a fresh twist: an Ayelet Lalor head is topped by a wild swell of hair, a play-place for tiny figures to sunbathe and dive. Flowing curves are a recurring shape in Seamus Gill's jewellery and sculpture; here, he has hammered them into a gorgeously voluptuous waterlily.  
Water Lily, Bronze, Seamus Gill
For some exhibitors, the challenge was to capture the shape and texture of water – exquisitely realised in Da Capo's waterdrop pendant, and in the undulating tactility of Elizabeth O'Kane's limestone 'Flow'.

Flow, Kilkenny limestone, Elizabeth O'Kane

Emmet Kane, Zelouf and Bell, and Joe Hogan have investigated our historical relationship with water. Kane's 'Grinding Water' is turned and carved from ekki wood, an extremely hard timber used in lock gates: it is a very assured piece, and demonstrates his growing confidence as a sculptor. Zelouf and Bell's haunting famine larder references Rowan Gillespie's Liffey-side starving figures, and Hogan's Heaney-inspired bog boat is a robust example of his basket-as-sculpture series.
Craft is perennially under-exhibited in Irish galleries. This is an uplifting exhibition: playful, thoughtful, full of beautifully-made pieces. Quite simply, a must-see. 

Water Land runs at Waterways Ireland's visitor centre on Grand Canal Quay from 6th - 30th November.
Opening times for visitors are from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm.
Roger Bennett is a woodturner and writer about craft; he has been published in Irish Arts Review, Ceramics Ireland, Sunday Miscellany.​

For more information contact the following:


Thursday 24 October 2013

Water Land Exhibition

The Design Tower and Waterways Ireland present ‘Water Land’, an exhibition of sculpture and craft objects inspired by the element of water.

Following the success of The Design Tower's Wunderkammer exhibition in 2009 the Tower artists and designer are hosting another group exhibition, Water Land.

This exhibition brings together the heritage of the inland waterways with new work by contemporary artists and craft makers. Curated by Sarah Ross, it will feature a selection of Ireland’s most well known and recognised artists and crafts people, those resident in the Design Tower, together with makers invited from across Ireland and abroad.

Throughout ‘Water Land’, the theme of water is broad and wide-ranging. Water helps anchor our history, our culture and influences our architecture. As a valuable resource it is ever-present in our lives and is integral to our future. As an island country, we are never far from the presence of a waters edge but at the same time, we can be divided by its very presence. The artists and makers use their experience with these themes for their inspiration in developing work in their individual media, whether that is precious metals, wood, stone, clay, paper, glass or  mixed-media.

Alison Lowry, Killaloe Workers 1887, Cast Glass Ceramic Decals

Among the twenty artists and designers taking part in the show renowned jewellery designer Alan Ardiff reminds us of the recent summer heat wave with his diving bronze figure inspired by the dare devil swimmers in Grand Canal Basin;  sculptor Elizabeth O’Kane has hand carved a block of Kilkenny limestone to resemble the surface of the water; and bespoke jewellery designers, Da Capo, have produced exquisite work inspired by the movement and fluidity of water.  Referencing values associated with the use of water are fashion designer, Róisín Gartland whose work references the abuses in the fashion industry for the sake of western beauty and adornment, and ceramic artist Henry Pim reminds us of the depletion of water as a resource. Connemara based basketmaker, Joe Hogan, and Swedish textile designer, Liz Nilsson, have both made work inspired by the natural materials sourced from the waters edge. This is further complemented by a series of sculptural forms created by Kildare’s internationally renowned woodturner, Emmet Kane, made from reclaimed canal gates made from the hardwood called ‘Ekki’. Other exhibiting artists from The Design Tower include Ayelet Lalor, Alan Ardiff, Mick de Hoog, Philip Murphy, Pat McBride, and Niamh Jackman.  Other invited artists include Alison Lowry.

The Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre is a beautiful light filled space, with a sensation of floating on water it provides an excellent environment for displaying works of art and craft inspired by water. The Design Tower, is located on the bank of the canal basin beside the Visitor centre, originally built in 1878 as a sugar refinery, it has been a creative hub of craft makers and artists for the last thirty years. 

Waterways Ireland, one of the six North/South Implementation Bodies established under the British Irish Agreement in 1999, has responsibility for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of inland navigable waterways principally for recreational purposes. Due to both its historical significance and current value  the element of water was seen as a very relevant theme to promote the work of over 20 artists and makers at the Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre.

‘Water Land’ is supported by Waterways Ireland and further funded by the Crafts Council of Ireland. 

The exhibition will take place from 6th - 30th November.
Opening times for visitors are from Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm.
Entry is free of charge.  All welcome.

Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre
Grand Canal Quay
Dublin 2

For more information contact the following:



Monday 30 September 2013

The Watercolour Society of Ireland 159th Exhibition

Artist Elizabeth O'Kane is taking part in the Watercolour Society of Ireland Annual Exhibition in Dun Laoghaire.

Elizabeth recently became a member of the WCSI and is exhibiting three architectural paintings: two scenes of Manhattan - Williamsburg Bridge,  23rd and 8th, and a recent painting of Grand Canal Quay seen from the Design Tower.

County Hall, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.
Monday 30th September 2013 – Sunday 6th October 2013 (1 pm.)


Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm
Exhibition Closing Sunday 6th October  at 1pm

"Becoming Men" We are MOTHERLAND - a short film

Check out this beautiful short film featuring The Design Tower, and the local historic buildings, as a backdrop to local kids diving and jumping into the Grand Canal.

Beautiful black and white footage of local kids swimming in the summer heatwave diving off bridges and cranes in the Grand Canal, all set against the narrative of an older man reminiscing about swimming in the canal in his youth.

Click on this link to watch the short film:


Saturday 7 September 2013

Sculpture in Context 2013

Sculptors Elizabeth O'Kane and Seamus Gill are among the artists exhibiting this autumn in the Sculpture in Context exhibition at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin 9.

Elizabeth O'Kane with her bronze deer on open night

Elizabeth is exhibiting her bronze Giant Irish Deer and Seamus is showing three beautiful Orchids made of sheet bronze and silver.

The show runs from 5th September to 18th October 2013.

Sculpture in Context 2013 returns once again to the National Botanic Gardens, showcasing the work of Irish and international artists, it is the largest and most prestigious outdoor sculpture exhibition in Ireland.  Visitors can explore this 50 acre botanical paradise and discover sculptures in the most unexpected places throughout the garden. This quiet oasis is just 3.5 km from the centre of Dublin City and provides a wonderful venue for the artists to create work in response to specific surroundings.  This year over 150 sculptures are displayed in the gardens, ponds, Great Palm House, and Curvilinear Range of glasshouses; smaller pieces are exhibited in the gallery above the visitors’ centre.
Sculpture in Context offers an unparalleled opportunity to view Ireland’s well established and most promising artists.
The National Botanic Gardens are located 3 Kilometres North of Dublin city centre, 10 minutes by bus from O’Connell Street (Nos. 4, 9 and 83)

Opening Hours: 
Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am - 6pm
Admission Free

For more information visit:


Wednesday 24 July 2013

360 degree, rotaing sculpture photography.

Two of the Tower's finest, Elizabeth O'Kane and Ayelet Lalor, have recently been working in collaboration with commercial photographer, Karl Martini, in having some of their sculptures photographed in rotation.


Sylvan, Concrete and Steel, by sculptor Ayelet Lalor

Giant Irish Deer, bronze, by sculptor Elizabeth O'Kane

"I feel this technique is very suited to showcase sculpture because it communicates elements such as texture and gives the pieces a tactile feel. I'm very happy to have had these beautiful sculptures to showcase my photographic process." Karl Martini

For more information visit:


Friday 19 July 2013

Craft/Design studio lease for sale in The Design Tower, Dublin.

Are you an artist or designer looking for a studio in the heart of Dublin's new creative hub? This is your rare opportunity to purchase a nine year renewable lease in The Design Tower, Trinity Centre, Dublin Docklands.

 View of the Grand Canal basin opposite The Design Tower

This historic building is home to a community of designers and makers which currently include jewellers, fine artists, an instrument maker, a leather-worker and a bronze sculptor as well as paper / textile / painting conservation artists.

This building, formally known as the IDA, has been recently bought by Trinity College, who are keen to support and promote the arts.

The large studio (410 sq ft approx) would suit a professional designer, maker or artist. This building has an industrial lift, 24hr studio access and includes free parking.

The current set-up facilitates a workshop area as well as a generous showroom.

A visit to the building will show the diversity of layouts possible to suit different disciplines.

The 6th floor studio overlooks Pearse Street and the docklands basin.

For further information or to arrange a viewing please contact Aisling on 01 670 8476

The Design Tower (seen left) and views from the 6th floor studio

Have a look at a short film about The Design Tower community! This piece captures the the skills and personalities of the artists and designers as well as the creative neighbourhood where we are located! 

The Design Tower website has information on all the businesses.

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Its Summer in the City on Grand Canal Quay!

Check out the Irish Village Food Market located just outside The Design Tower, every Wednesday from 12 noon - 2.30pm,  every week of the year.

During the hot weather the Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre, opposite our studios, have opened their gates for customers to enjoy their picnics on the piers and dip their toes in the water. Here you can relax in the sun and enjoy the spectacular architectural delights of Grand Canal Quay, and also the occasional antics of local kids jumping into the water off nearby bridges!

Irish Village Food Market, Wednesdays on Grand Canal Quay outside the Design Tower

Picnics enjoyed at Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre

Don't forget to pop up to our studios after lunch to see local arts, crafts and fine design, such as this watercolour painting of the view from The Design Tower, by artist Elizabeth O'Kane.

Grand Canal Quay III, Watercolour by Elizabeth O'Kane

And watch this space for The Design Tower's next Group Exhibition later this year in The Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre, inspired by Grand Canal Quay.

For more information visit these websites:





Friday 14 June 2013

Design and jewellery in Ireland - by Breda Haugh

How an object comes into being has long fascinated me…the idea, who decides, and why?   Design is the fascinating process whereby such an idea  is brought on a journey to its place in our world- whether material or virtual, as metal, gemstones,  leather, textiles or plastics are brought  together by human intervention to form a piece of jewellery-  its design, with its own particular limitations, being as fascinating as that of any other object.

I came across some such design journeys recently while researching modern Irish jewellery of the mid twentieth century.

This was a time when great concern was being expressed about the quality of product design in Ireland, especially for the export market, which the government endeavoured to address by establishing the Kilkenny Design Workshops in 1963- filling them with experienced product Designers and craftspeople, primarily from overseas.

I love how the expression from different cultures has influenced and contributed to our sense of a modern Irish aesthetic.

Fig 1

Regarding KDW jewellery these influences can be seen in the silver prototype rings and cufflinks by Rudolf Heltzel. (Fig.1, 2), along with the Viking influenced necklet, (Fig.3) by Asger Max Anderson.

                Fig. 2                                

Regarding KDW jewellery these influences can be seen in the silver prototype rings and cufflinks by Rudolf Heltzel. (Fig.1, 2), along with the Viking influenced necklet, (Fig.3) by Asger Max Anderson.  It is discernible too in  Anderson’s Celtic influenced  Torc Bangle (Fig. 4) with his versatility seen in the strong form of  amethyst set ring (Fig. 5) contrasting with the  greater complexity in the technical drawing of the cluster ring-Later made.(Fig. 6) All motifs being characteristic of the Scandinavian aesthetic- fashionable  at the time.

 Fig. 3

 Fig. 4

Fig. 5
Fig. 6

 While this work was interesting and contributed to our knowledge of style and technique, exciting modern work was, however, also being made elsewhere in Ireland, with the most successful jewellery being that by the Swede Marika Murnaghan, who came to Dublin in the mid 1960s, having married solicitor Denis Murnaghan.  Initially she began making jewellery in the Searbhac (Hawk) workshop in Dunlaoire, moving on when her work proved a success.  She was to be replaced there by jeweller Linda Uhlemann.

 Fig. 7

Murnaghan was truly original- establishing a very successful manufacturing business with her modern jewellery collections, all of which with a lightness of touch, displayed a  strong influence of both her native Scandinavian culture and  of her adopted Irish one, which last greatly, absorbed her. (Fig. 7, 8, 9))  The work was additionally priced to have wide appeal, selling extensively in Ireland and more selectively the UK.  It was probably, however, through her strong branding and marketing, including her modern boutique interiors, that Murnaghan showed great vision (Fig. 10) contrasting greatly to what was generally to be experienced in traditional retail jewellers at the time.

Fig. 8

And additionally Marika Jewellery boutiques were strong competition for KDW outlets.   

At its height the company employed upwards of 40 people, only ceasing trading in the late 1980s due to Murnaghan’s untimely death.  She was held in considerable respect shown both by her commission, through competition, to design and make in 1983 the first piece of platinum to be hallmarked in Ireland (Fig.11) and currently by the inclusion of unique items of her jewellery and silverware in the collection of the National Museum of Ireland.

Fig. 9

 Another aspect of both Marika and KDW Jewellery was that their construct was acknowledged to be by a process known as Craft Design- a term rarely in use today, but sadly missed.

Fig. 10

Finally Marika Jewellery along with that of KDW were Viking/ Scandinavian invasions in the modern age, but this time pleasing to those truly conquered, resembling perhaps to how today we enjoy the products of H & M and IKEA, both of whom unpretentiously touch many people by addressing their requirements with quality design values and broad accessibility in the marketplace.

 Fig. 11

Further suggested reading:
·Dunlevy, M. (2001). Jewellery -17th to 20t h Centuries. Dublin: The National Museum of Ireland.

·Marchant, N. and Addis, J. (1985). Kilkenny Design: Twenty-one years of design in Ireland.  Kilkenny and London.

·Publications Teahan, J. (1987). The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin, exhibition 1637- 1987. Dublin: The National Museum of Ireland, Dublin.

·Thorpe, R (ed). (2005). Designing Ireland, A retrospective exhibition of Kilkenny Design Workshops 1963-1988.  Kilkenny: Crafts Council of Ireland.

Image credits:
Figure 1, Rudolf Heltzel, Silver Prototype rings c1960s. Designing Ireland Catalogue Image by Roland Paschhoff. Courtesy CCOI. Figure 2, Rudolf Heltzel, L+R  Prototype silver cufflinks  1966/7. Designing Ireland Catalogue. Image by Roland Paschhoff. Courtesy CCOI. Centre cufflink by Marcus Huber. Figure 3,
Asger  Max Anderson :1971- Hammered silver Necklace.  Designing Ireland Catalogue. Image byRoland Paschhoff. Courtesy CCOI. Figure 4,  “Torc” Bangle, silver 1972. Asger Max Anderson. Designing Ireland Catalogue. Image by Roland Paschhoff. Courtesy CCOI. Figure 5, Silver amethyst set ring. Asger Max Anderson :1971. Designing Ireland Catalogue. Image by Roland Paschhoff. Courtesy CCOI. Figure 6, Asger  Max Anderson - Technical Drawing  :1971 Archive: Byrne D. Figure 7, Murnaghan  wearing unique silver pendant. Archive - National Museum of Ireland  The Irish Woman  September 1978. Courtesy the Irish Country Women’s Association. Figure 8, Marika Jewellery. Archive; National Museum of Ireland. Evening Herald 1970. Images Courtesy  Independent Newspapers. Figure 9, Selection, Marika rings - Archive; National Museum of Ireland - Evening Hearld 1970 Courtesy ;  Independent Newspapers. Figure 10, Marika Retail outlet. Archive; National Museum of Ireland  Evening Hearld  1970. Courtesy ;  Independent Newspapers. Figure 11, Decorative Hair comb, platinum.L16.5cm 1983.  The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin - Exhibition 1637-1987. Courtesy; The Company of Goldsmiths.

Article written by Breda Haugh - www.bredahaugh.com

Sunday 26 May 2013

Roisin Gartland - 2013 collection

Roisin Gartland is based in The Design Tower. She is here to tell us about her latest accessories collection which she recently showcased in new York.

"For the last 10 years I've mostly been engaged in creating one-off pieces, which I have to admit is a labour of love! No two pieces are alike and each piece a challenge. During this time I have also become quite interested in accessories… I guess because they are the perfect partner to accompany designing in a bespoke fashion where each piece can take up to 3 months to build. The result is a collection of extremely versatile accessories to add to every woman's wardrobe and they have just made their début in New York.

This new collection consists of collars, gloves and bags: each adding a touch of luxury and individuality to simple classic outfits and at an affordable price. Each collar is moulded to fit the neckline in a natural form and in keeping with my bespoke designs, no two pieces are alike. The collars are naturally thermal and breathable and so perfect for our climate! The fingerless gloves are described by clients as being simply divine and practical too! They are quite eye catching: The hand can feel dressed and very elegant and the beauty is you don't need to remove them when working and they are available in a rainbow of beautiful colours.

Not being able to find the right bags for my own needs resulted in the development of the bag collection. Each shape and size has been road tested and refined over the last decade and the set has developed into a great collection perfected for different uses.

These are timeless items made from the most beautiful natural materials and created to last for many years. The collection is ready to travel and the long term goal is to develop an overseas market for the accessories collection and set some new challenges for myself. However, having said all that, creating one-off designs for my Irish clients is at the core of what I do and that will never change."

For more information on Roisin Gartland's collections, visit her website and Facebook page.

Photographer: Sean Jackson
Stylist: Alison Conneely
Model: Maria Boardman from 1st Option Models Management