Ceramics Graduate Exhibition opens at the National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny
An expert horse woman who has worked with Ireland’s leading racing stables, including Coolmore Stud and Baldoyle, is combining her love of all things equestrian with her chosen career as a ceramicist.
Claire Molloy is incorporating horse hair in her eye catching ceramic creations which are being showcased at ‘Through The Mill’, a new exhibition which has opened in the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny.
30-year-old Claire, from the Tipperary/Kilkenny border, is one of 12 new graduates of the Crafts Council of Ireland’s renowned Ceramics Skills and Design Course whose distinctive work features in the exhibition until July 31st.
The talented artist managed to continue to work and study after she dislocated her shoulder in March in an accident while breaking in her four year-old horse, Fionn on the farm near Callan in Kilkenny.
“I count myself exceptionally lucky – I get to combine my two passions every day of my life,” Claire said. “It was a bit of a juggle at times, but an enjoyable one. I’ve worked with horses all my life and they inspire my work. I’ve worked at Coolmore where I looked after lots of horses, among them the mother of the famous Sheikh Mohammed owned chestnut colt, Mon Dieu.
“I also looked after George Washington and Dylan Thomas when I worked for a short time at Ballydoyle. I now breed horses for events and show jumping from my home on the Kilkenny/Tipperary border. I use horse hair in all my wall-mounted plates and smoke-fired pieces so I’m never far away from working with them,” she added.
Martha Williamson, from Spiddal in County Galway was named Student of the Year 2012 at the opening of Through the Mill. Martha’s interest in ceramics started when she worked at the Sliding Rock Pottery in Spiddal, where she will now continue her ceramic practice.
The Crafts Council of Ireland Chief Executive Prize was awarded to Andrew Whitelaw from Limerick, while the Crafts Council of Ireland Chairman’s Purchase went to Gideon Cumming from London for his pair of stoneware roundels.
The graduates come from diverse backgrounds and include a former civil engineer, a science and biology graduate from Poland, and a former health service employee. Many of them will progress to further training or will travel to gain additional experience abroad while others plan to work with leading potters in Ireland.
The Though the Mill Exhibition offers visitors to the National Craft Gallery an opportunity to admire the craftsmanship and invest in pieces by these emerging ceramicists. The display of final project work in each graduate’s signature style reflects their individual technical ability and design aesthetic.
The graduate exhibition covers a wide variety of ideas and techniques and includes:
vessels incorporating sawdust, seaweed and horsehair, used to achieve surfaces of great subtlety and beauty
functional tableware in vibrant colours inspired by traditional country slipware or decorated with ceramic transfers
sculptural forms in subtle hues or delicate, paper-thin porcelain
earthenware tiles and platters and robust stoneware pots
a set of 12 teapots that were produced for one of the course’s numerous practical projects.
The Ceramics Skills & Design Course, which is based at Island Mill in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, is designed to equip graduates with the practical skills to develop careers in the ceramics industry. The two-year, intensive programme sets out to give the students a common set of skills, knowledge and understanding from which they develop their own individual work and progress their technical competence.
Throughout the two-year programme, students work directly with established potters in Ireland and abroad. The work placements undertaken in the second year give students an invaluable insight into the day-to-day running of a professional pottery, while allowing them to hone their skills and expertise.
Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Crafts Council of Ireland, said the exhibition is the culmination of two years of hard work, resulting in a very high standard of craftsmanship: “Commencing a successful career in the craft sector requires both skill and business acumen, and our course is designed to equip students with both.
“Having developed their individual creativity through dynamic work practice and the technical knowledge and skills required to support quality and innovation in design and production, these graduates now have the confidence and competence to enter the ceramics industry. Their experience over the last two years will stand to each graduate as they establish themselves as makers and we look forward to continuing to support them through the Crafts Council of Ireland programmes. I wish them every success in the future.”
Through the Mill was officially launched by Mary Gallagher, collector and owner of the Blue Egg Gallery, Wexford, who hosted an exhibition of the students’ work during their second year.
The Ceramics Skills and Design Course Manager, Gus Mabelson, said the two-year programme is challenging but through their attitude, effort and dedication, the graduates have produced some outstanding work: “From when they first joined the course, the students were a very pro-active group, developing and growing individually and collectively. Each one has developed their own unique way of working, using their talent and skills to produce pieces of real quality. These graduates should feel very proud of what they have achieved. They have set the bar very high for the next group.”
John Tynan, Head of Education, Training and Development at the Crafts Council of Ireland, said the course has established an excellent reputation both nationally and internationally: “This course promotes self-directed learning and development with open access to fully equipped workshops to industry standard. The combination of environment, facilities and expertise in training and the relevance of the course curriculum to the ceramics industry makes this course unique within ceramics training in Ireland.”
Applications were received from across Europe for the next two-year programme which commences in September 2012 and the 12 places have now been filled.
Through the Mill runs at the National Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny, until July 31st and a Meet the Makers evening will take pace on Wednesday July 25th at 6.30pm. Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5.30pm, Sunday: 11am – 5.30pm. Admission is free. For further details visit www.nationalcraftgallery.ie