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There is a wide range of programmes and resources inspired by the Museums’ permanent and temporary exhibitions to stimulate creativity, engage your curiosity and provide thought-provoking and insightful experiences. Throughout the year we organise conferences, seminars, talks, tours and workshops – all designed with a diverse range of learners in mind, aiming to be relevant, accessible, sociable and enjoyable. We work with communities and partners across a range of sectors to design and develop programmes and we value collaborating with people to evaluate impact. This collaboration with Artist in Residence Róisín de Buitléar was a great opportunity to work with a diverse range of individuals, highlighting the importance of lifelong learning and also the importance of Ireland's heritage in glass making.
Glass Symposium: Collect, Collecting, Collected
A one-day symposium organised by Artist in Residence Róisín de Buitléar, in partnership with the Museum. Speakers from Ireland and abroad that uncovered and explored our extensive glass collection, approximately 8% of which is on public display. Speakers include: Dr Audrey Whitty, Keeper, Art & Industrial Collections; and Nigel Monaghan, Keeper, Natural History Collections, on the internationally renowned Blaschka Glass Collection. Includes a behind-the-scenes visit to Róísín de Buitléar’s on-site studio.
On May 23rd a large group gathered for the Glass Symposium held at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History tilted Glass Symposium: Collect, Collector, Collected. Museum experts and artists explored how, why and what makes a contemporary glass collection significant. A range of topics were discussed on the day including personal stories of working at the acclaimed Waterford Crystal Factory, to the Blaskca Glass Collection and how the commissioning process works for a professional glass artist. The day proved to be quite popular and insightful. The symposium provided an opportunity for participants to get a behind the scenes look at the collection stores and learn more about the hidden stories behind some of the objects.
Glass Engraving Workshops
Ireland’s first ever public classes in glass engraving took place at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, as part of an Artist in Residence Programme with artist, Róisín de Buitléar:
“As Artist in Residence I’ve invited German master glass engraver Wilhelm Vernhim to come to the museum to hold a specialised public course on glass engraving. These are the first ever public classes held in Ireland in glass engraving technique.”
The course highlighted and celebrated a significant aspect of Ireland’s heritage in glass, as Róisín adds, “Wilhelm’s bringing eight glass engraving lathes with him in the back of his car, travelling across Europe, for these workshops. We couldn’t run the course without temporarily importing these German machines, which were once commonplace in the four major glass factories in Tipperary, Cavan, Galway and Waterford.”
The workshops brought together practicing artists from all over the country including one cutter from Waterford, as well as a number of students who are new to glass engraving. Róisín de Buitléar aims “to stimulate new interest and energy around this illustrative technique, by bringing a large group of artists together for an intensive week of engraving, a technique which uses a spinning wheel to carve away glass to reveal an image or pattern in low relief.”
Róisín and Wilhelm also invited Museum staff to take part in a “taster” workshop in Róisín’s studio at Collins Barracks. No previous experience of glass or glass engraving was required. The workshop enabled Museum staff to take part in the evening time to learn and experience the art of glass engraving with master engraver Wilhelm Vernhim.
In 2009 at the time of its closure, Waterford Crystal laid off 2000 people, and there were 15 engravers at the height of production. During the sale the receivers sold all of the equipment in the factory, online to the highest bidder. No private individual was permitted to buy any machinery or equipment before that sale, not even the redundant workers who had worked at those machines all throughout their lives. Most of the equipment left Ireland to facilitate the making of the same glass products in other countries under cheaper labour conditions.
Waterford engravers Eamonn Hartley and Greg Sullivan collaborated with Róisín on the exhibition CAUTION! Fragile Irish Glass. Tradition in Transition.
Biography of Instructor Wilhelm Vernim:
Wilhelm Vernim was trained as a glass engraver and designer at Zwiesel Glass Skills College in Germany, and continued his training as a Master in Glass Engraving at Zwiesel. He also studied painting with Tom Buechner, and engraving with Jiři Harcuba, and kiln casting with Max Jaquard. He has taught engraving and cold working classes at the Glass Skills School at Rheinbach, Hadamar, Bild-Werk-Frauneau in Germany, The Glass Furnace in Turkey, and IKA-Mechelen in Belgium and the Corning Museum of Glass. Wilhem was also the curator of the Josef Welzel retrospective in the glass museum Rheinbach, Frauenau and Gernheim from 2014 – 2016. He is currently working as a freelance artist and teacher.
About Róisín de Buitléar:
Born in Dublin, Róisín de Buitléar is an internationally renowned artist, represented in public collections in Ireland, Britain, France, China and the USA. Inspired by her Irish cultural heritage she has been working with glass throughout her career. She has many site-specific artworks in public buildings throughout Ireland, such as the National Botanic Gardens, the Basilica of Knock Co Mayo, Ballyroan Public Library Dublin and the sensory garden at Áras an Úachtarán, the President's Residence in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. In 2011 the Irish Postal Service, issued a national stamp featuring her work ‘Catch a breath’ celebrating the year of international craft.
Her recent work focuses on creating sound objects from glass, working with contemporary musicians who play percussive, stringed and wind instruments in haunting public performances. These pieces have also been the subject of national and international exhibitions and you can see and hear some of them at the National Museum of Ireland this year in the CAUTION! Fragile. Irish Glass: Tradition in Transition exhibition.
UCD Lifelong Learning - 2018 Programme
In partnership with the UCD Lifelong Learning Programme, the National Museum of Ireland offers a yearly thematic course. The courses are open to all and provide a unique opportunity to explore a subject without examinations. This course is part of a long tradition in University College Dublin (UCD) and follow the legacy of the university’s founder Cardinal John Henry Newman, who wished to make higher education accessible to a range of Irish people. This gives participants a chance to get up close to the fascinating displays and objects from the Museum’s collections and hear about the amazing stories behind them. This particular course offered in 2018 was for anyone with an interest in Museums and Material Culture, Irish History and Women’s history.
Marking the 100th anniversary of Irishwomen gaining the vote, the 2018 course focused on women in the 19th and early 20th century through the Decorative Arts, History and Folklife collections on display at Collins Barracks while giving a sense of the sheer breadth of the Museum’s collections. Each week expert speakers including Museum educators and curators presented illustrated talks followed by guided visits to exhibitions including ‘Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising’ and ‘Eileen Gray’ and the newly opened exhibition entitled ‘CAUTION! Fragile Tradition in Transition’ featuring the work of glass artist Róisín de Buitléar.
Glass artist Róisín de Buitléar presented her exhibition, on display at Collins Barrack during 2018, entitled ‘CAUTION! Fragile Tradition in Transition’ and talked about her practice as an artist working in glass and on what inspires her work.
Image Credit - Stefan Effner
Videography - Aisling Dunne