Minister Hogan opens jewellery exhibition

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, formally opened an exhibition featuring exquisite pieces of handcrafted jewellery made from gold, silver and precious stones by graduates of the Crafts Council of Ireland Jewellery & Goldsmithing course in the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny on Friday last.

Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan TD, formally opened an exhibition featuring exquisite pieces of handcrafted jewellery made from gold, silver and precious stones by graduates of the Crafts Council of Ireland Jewellery & Goldsmithing course in the National Craft Gallery in Kilkenny on Friday last.

The graduates of the renowned Jewellery & Goldsmithing Course, many who made dramatic career changes to become jewellery makers, were congratulated by the Minister for the creativity and workmanship displayed in the exhibition which was the culmination to two years of hard work. He also praised the work of the Crafts Council of Ireland for promoting and championing craft and design in Ireland.

Former Montessori teacher, Sorcha O’Horain, who followed her dream to become a jeweller, was named the winner of the “Student of the Programme” award. Sorcha is one of 12 course graduates of the internationally-renowned, intensive, two-year full time programme who honed their expertise and craft on the course with some of Ireland’s and Europe’s most highly skilled silversmiths and goldsmiths.

The graduates feature a former archaeologist, a chef, a Montessori teacher and a court clerk. The group also includes a young woman from Estonia who moved to Blanchardstown in Dublin with her mother nine years ago. (Bios on the 12 graduates at the end of the release)

Unique to the Kilkenny programme is the fact that students work solely in precious metals and have been encouraged to push boundaries in technique and innovative designs. The course has a 90 per cent employment rate.

The beautiful creations on display at the exhibition until July 28th include an exquisite collection of twelve miniature solid silver teapots showcasing each student’s technical ability and individual design aesthetics. They range from minimalist geometric hollow forms to a decorative teapot entitled “T Time” which has a clock movement house within it.

Opening the exhibition, Minister Phil Hogan congratulated the 12 students and award winners on completing the unique programme designed to equip them with the practical skills needed to develop careers in the jewellery industry in Ireland and internationally.

“I note that this course is the only one of its kind in Ireland and is comparable to leading Goldsmithing courses in Europe. The combination of traditional skills, craftsmanship and innovative thinking in design are key to commercial success. The unique aspect of the course is the development of skills in areas that have significant practical application to the jewellery industry. “

Minister Hogan said it was encouraging to note in the current climate the course has a high employment success rate, with 90% of former graduates getting jobs in this area.

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Crafts Council of Ireland, said the exhibition is a culmination of an intensive two-year programme resulting in a high standard of craftsmanship.

“The calibre of work from the graduates of the programme and its previous record of 90% employment rate highlights the importance of craft at both an aesthetic and economic level. Last month in Dublin at our public conference on craft, Edna dos Santos-Duisenberg from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development told attendees that trade in products of creativity continued to register an annual average growth of 14 per cent; this is encouraging to all involved in the craft sector, from students to practitioners, especially in celebrating this year 2011 as Year of Craft,” she said.

Eimear Conyard, Jewellery & Goldsmithing Course Manager/Tutor, said the course was very challenging, and disciplined students into working to deadlines and commission budgets, a critical skill required in the industry:

“Our students work solely with precious metals as we aim to mimic the traditional jewellery and goldsmithing practices within the industry. The Jewellery & Goldsmithing Course requires passion and commitment. It’s not for the faint-hearted.”

Over 70 applications were received from across Europe for the forthcoming programme, which runs from 2011 until 2013. The lucky dozen have already been offered their places on the programme which resumes in September 2011.

The Graduate Exhibition runs at the National Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny, July 15 – 28. Opening times: Tuesday - Saturday: 10am - 5.30pm, Sunday: 11am - 5.30pm. Admission is free.

For further details visit www.nationalcraftgallery