The Makers' Gallery
The Maker’s Gallery, to the left of the Courtyard, features our permanent exhibition, ‘We Are The Makers’, which illustrates the universal human desire to ‘create by making’ - the idea that making is a fundamental expression of identity.
The exhibition brings together a diverse group of Ireland’s contemporary, highly skilled creators and innovators who carry on our ancient traditions of making. They are artists who work with materials provided by nature, blending craft and tradition to bring beauty into our lives.
They are also scientists and innovators driven by a sense of endless possibility. The exhibition connects aesthetic and functional making, showing how excellence in widely varying disciplines, from various art forms to science and technology, draws from the same qualities of human imagination and creative engagement.
Much of the exhibition derives from the Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s Portfolio, a 2021 selection of the finest Irish designers and makers. In addition, there is a selection of objects representing the work of some of our leading scientists and innovators. A specially made film piece focuses on the individual ‘makers’ and the inspiration that underpins their creativity, often based on place and community.
The exhibition is curated by Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum, with substantial input from the Design & Crafts Council Ireland.
Explore the exhibits below:
The Maureen Sweater
This hand-knitted sweater is 100% Irish Heather wool. It holds a structured outwear form created by directional hand crochet stitch combinations.
Much of the artist’s work is influenced by the landscape of the west of Ireland and by traditional crafts such as knitting and crochet. An ongoing source of inspiration is his late grandmother Maureen whose confidence and creativity had a strong influence on him.
Featuring the signature hand knit puff sleeves the Maureen Sweater breaths new life into the traditions of Irish Aran hand knitting. Colin Burke sweaters are made to order and individually hand-knit.
Germinating Endophytes - Professor Fiona Doohan, University College Dublin
Nova 2021 Innovation Award winner and crop scientist Professor Fiona Doohan and her research team isolate novel species of bacterial and fungal root endophytes from wild populations of crop species.
Inoculation of a crop species with the novel endophytes can significantly increase crop yield and assist in the suppression of common pathogenic infections in nutrient-starved crops.
Innovations such as the use of endophytes can lead to more sustainable farming practices and greater crop yields to feed growing global populations.
Prof Doohan is a member of the scientific advisory board of the G20 Global Wheat Initiative, which was established to advance strategic research and organisation priorities in both developed and developing countries.
Pappus - Sasha Sykes
Having trained as an architect, Sasha’s work is infused with a strong sense of form and composition which alongside the organic and natural materials defines the pieces she makes.
Sykes work explores life, death, and renewal, particularly regarding flora and seeding cycle. Using resin, she incorporates foraged plant-life, including dandelions as seen in the Pappus piece.
Balance in Blue - Cecilia Moore
Cecilia’s work combines raising, an ancient silversmithing hammering technique with patination to form colourful, playful sculptural metal pieces. Raising allows her to hammer flat metal discs to create her unique hollow sculptural forms.
While it is a noisy and laborious process, she states that it creates in her both a struggle and a joy. Cecilia is based in Dublin.
Blush - Helen O’Shea
Helen’s work is centred around balancing relations in sustainability, and the using the transformation of waste plastic to raise themes of environmental, material and ecological concern. Through her research on new narratives for waste plastics, Helen has a complex understanding of what is happening in our environment which shows through her art pieces.
Helen began gathering plastics found on the beach near her home in Co.Cork and has began gathering these materials to use in her work. It is Helen’s ambition for people to view and think about waste plastic, as a valuable resource.
Ensemble XIII, XIV, XV, XVI - Edmond Byrne
Edmond Byrne explores sustainable practice in glassmaking in his latest body of work. Over the last decade, he collected and accumulated a large body of various off-cuts from previous projects.
For this collection, he found himself working with predetermined elements rather than creating it from scratch. The colour and texture of the objects are unique as they are essentially ‘recycled’ material from other collections which Edmond used to create these pieces.
Dark Edge Vessel and Large Dark Edge Vessel - Max Brosi
Max Brosi began working with wood at his grandfather’s bench aged four. His works reference the sea’s carved ripples, wave shapes and flowing outlines.
The surface of his work is bleached and ebonised to remove the distraction of the colour of the wood while enhancing the light and shadow effects. Max is based in County Leitrim.
Orb Ring - Nigel O’Reilly
Drawing inspiration from his rural Irish background, goldsmith Nigel O’Reilly pushes the limits of traditional and modern techniques to craft fine jewellery pieces. Nigel began his professional life in engineering and marries the technical expertise of precision toolmaking with an eye for architectural form and bold colours.
The Orb Ring contains a 14mm South-Sea Pearl set in 18kt rose gold with 138 pink and orange sapphires with pink and green diamonds.
Sheeran Guitar - Lowden
Designed, engineered and produced in Ireland, the Sheeran guitars by Lowden were born out of a friendship between Ed Sheeran and George Lowden. They offer a musician a friendly sized guitar with great playability and tone.
Lowden wanted to create a range of affordable guitars but not at the expense of sound and quality standards. By adapting hi-tech, aerospace manufacturing techniques, Lowden developed a system that produced quality guitars at a sufficiently high volume to make a lower priced instrument viable.
The new system can produce in a day what would have taken weeks using traditional production methods. Sheeran by Lowden has opened up a new global market for this 2021 Irish Times Innovation Award winning company.
Enignum II Locus Chair - Joseph Walsh
Joseph Walsh is a designer-maker whose work reflects his passion for expression through material and form. Inspired by the free, uplifting and ever-changing grace found in nature, he has developed a creative process which captures the fluidity of a sketch, of the moment of inspiration, and in which the final form is only defined through its making. He has developed innovative making-processes which, while based on traditional technique, often involve other craft forms.
From the Latin words Enigma (mystery) and Lignum (wood), the Enignum series expresses the mystery of the form that lies within the material. This composition was created by manipulating and reconstructing thin layers of ash, allowing the wood itself to reveal the form as each layer naturally follows the next, coming from the same tree and following the same path.
Joseph Walsh Studio encompasses a design studio, workshop, gallery and archive, set around an 18th-century farmhouse in the countryside of County Cork on the south coast of Ireland.
Bambú Hurley - TORPEY
Torpey products are rooted in sporting heritage with a focus on innovation. Hurling is an ancient Irish sport renowned for breath-taking skill and speed, played by two teams of 15 with a hurley (stick) and sliotar (ball). Hurling is a sport of the community with the key focus of every club being sustainable for the future.
The hurley is traditionally made of wood from the Ash tree, which provides flexibility, strength and a natural feel. However, diseases such as Ash Dieback have hampered quality hurley production.
The Torpey Bambú hurley is a 2021 IDI award winning sustainable innovation, designed, engineered and produced in Ireland using bamboo particles. It combines engineering and sustainability to produce a greater strength and strike consistency for players. The Torpey family business are is now in its’ third generation of master craftsmen.
From Young Scientist to Stripe Collison Brothers
In 2005, the then 16-year-old Patrick Collison won Ireland’s Young Scientist award with a new computer language called Croma. Within a further three years, Patrick and his brother, John, had sold their first Silicon Valley company. They were soon on their way to setting up what is now the global payments platform, Stripe.
The Collison brothers’ insight was that the web financial structure that underpinned the booming world of e-commerce was old and slow. The genius of Stripe was a software that allowed businesses to plug into websites and apps, to connect instantly with credit card and banking systems to receive payments. In 2021, Stripe was valued at $95 billion.
Patrick Collison says that ‘what you want to do is work on something meaningful and significant with people you really admire.’
Pod on a Narrow Stone - Joe Hogan
Joe Hogan became a basketmaker as the living tradition of rural Irish basket making was in decline. He spent many years researching and making indigenous Irish baskets such as the cliabh, the pardog and pota gliomach which translates to “lobster pot”.
Over the past two decades, Joe has become more interested in artistic and sculptural baskets through a desire to connect more deeply with the natural world. The colours of these award winning baskets are those of the natural willows which are grown at Loch na Fooey in Co. Galway, where his studio is based.
Nouveau-Jaw Statement Neck Piece - Emer Roberts
Before launching her fine art jewellery brand in 2017, Emer Roberts owned a sculptural practice. Her works map a journey that began in 2008, the Year of the Rat.
This piece in particular is part of the ‘Jaw Collection’ which is inspired by the lower jaw of a rat, designed in multiples to create floral symmetry akin to this visual.
Antrim Fields - Scott Benefield
Scott Benefield’s works explores the contemporary applications of glassbowing techniques that originated in Venice during the sixteenth century.
This work typically uses elements and patterns that are embedded in the molten glass at the beginning of the blowing process. The pattern is shaped, stretched and twisted as the vessel itself takes its final form.
Scott’s work is designed, produced and finished in the studio he shares with Andrea Spencer, on the rugged north Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.
Feather Wreath - Jennifer Hickey
Jennifer Hickey is a ceramic sculptor whose work explores porcelain’s delicate and ethereal qualities using an intricate approach to creation. Her sculptures are created using thousands of tiny porcelain pieces, hand-sewn onto fine tulle. Integral to her finished pieces are the slowness and repetition of the making process.
The rituals of making, the physical rhythms, the process, and time involved are important aspects of her practice.
Vortex Vessels - Grainne Watts
The coastline of Ireland has been a major source of inspiration in Grainne’s work as a ceramic artist.
This collection is inspired by the eroded and indented stones Grainne has collected on the beaches of Connemara throughout her life.
Using either smooth stoneware clay or Ming porcelain, she explores organis geometry and her love of colour. She achieves the smooth surface on her porcelain work by using fine-turning and sanding techniques. Each piece is handpainted.
Grainne is based in County Kilkenny in Ireland where she works from her own studio.
MED3DP - Bioengineering Students, Trinity College Dublin
Med3DP is creating a digital library of low-cost medical equipment for humanitarian healthcare, available for free download and ‘manufacture’ with a 3D printer. The initiative hosts a wide range of projects with ready-to-print files and documentation.
Every year, students in the MSc Bioengineering programme come together to brainstorm, prototype and develop 3D printable medical devices for the initiative. The objective is to deliver sustainable, valuable healthcare in the most challenging situations to those who need it most.
The students are mentored by Trinity College Dublin bioengineering professors, Michael Monaghan and Conor Buckley.
EIRSAT-1 - Dr. David McKeown, University College Dublin
EIRSAT-1 is the Educational Irish Research Satellite 1. When rockets travel to space they are generally launched into Earth’s orbit or beyond, with thrust and boost provided by powerful engines. But there are more subtle movements in a rocket that can significantly affect both performance and cost.
David McKeown’s work with the European Space Agency’s Future Launcher Preparatory Programme is focussed on rocket dynamics and control. He is applying his expertise in control systems to Ireland’s first satellite, EIRSAT-1, which is currently in development. His team is also applying this technology to a developmental robot arm for use in instrument deployment on Mars.
Axiomilla II - Michael Rice
Michael Rice is an Irish artist, designer, maker and educator currently living in the UAE. His sculptural works are created using a variety of materials which includes stoneware clay, black porcelain and paper clay.
Michael creates objects using both traditional and contemporary techniques: throwing clay, creating 3D printed plaster moulds, cutting and bevelling on the wheel.