Saturday, 1 March 2014

An education on new Irish creative talent

Following on the footsteps of the exhibition ‘RIAN: New Directions in Irish Fashion Design’ that the Irish embassy in London hosted during the summer of 2013, curator Gemma Williams unveiled the second instalment of her RIAN series (a cultural project that celebrates contemporary Irish ingenuity by interpreting its outputs from diverse critical viewpoints) in the form of the exhibition ‘RIAN: A Journey through Irish Jewellery and Accessories’.

White twisted ruffle neckpiece by Rachel McKnight

Designed by Rafaelle Swynghedauw, the exhibition was displayed at the Barbara Stanley Gallery (the only London gallery that solely represents contemporary Irish artists) between 18 and 27 February 2014 to coincide with London Fashion Week. Under the sharp curatorial direction that has started to define the budding career discreetly but successfully crafted by Williams, the exhibition showcased a selection of innovative jewellery and accessories pieces conceived by contemporary Irish designers based in the UK and Ireland, including Una Burke, Melissa Curry, LAF Design, Karen Donnellan, Joanne Hynes, Derek Lawlor, Eoin Lyons, Rachel McKnight, Eily O'Connell, Lynsay Raine, Garvan Traynor, and Miriam Wade.

Focusing on the importance of materiality as an anchoring creative dimension for all designers represented, the exhibition featured pieces made from materials as diverse as wool, leather, silver, platinum, diamonds, wire, glass, acrylic, rubber and plastic that, directly or indirectly, examined how the notions of adornment, value and taste are socially constructed and established through time by identity-forming critical discourses of gender, class and nationality.

If there is a fault to point out when examining ‘RIAN: A Journey through Irish Jewellery and Accessories’ is that the period that the exhibition remained open to the public was far too short. On a positive note, it does make one look forward to the next instalment of the RIAN project and Gemma Williams’s new ventures.

Exhibition photographs © Fabrice Bourgelle

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