Kilkenny: The Epicentre of the Vibrant Irish Craft and Design Community

Kilkenny National Design

Kilkenny: The Epicentre of the Vibrant Irish Craft and Design Community

09 March 2018
5 Mins

If you’re interested in exploring craft and material culture in Ireland, head to the medieval city of Kilkenny to visit the National Design & Craft Gallery.  

It’s one of the most exciting artistic venues in the country and it showcases some of the finest examples of contemporary Irish craft. You’ll find exhibitions of textiles, glass, ceramics, jewellery and furniture, all under one roof.

A Gallery with a Difference

The gallery was established in 2000 by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, which is funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. This support allows talented makers and imaginative curators to put on acclaimed exhibitions, events and education programmes - helping to build an understanding of craft and material culture in Ireland. As an added bonus, the gallery is located in the Castle Yard, once home to the stables and coach houses of the historic 12th Century Kilkenny Castle. While you’re there, you can visit a number of thriving craft and design businesses and watch skilled craftspeople at work keeping ancient skills alive.

While the gallery is a delight to visit at any time and admission is free, you may want to time your visit to coincide with one of its current or forthcoming exhibitions.

All That Glitters May Just Be Gold - or Silver 

Take for instance Rudolf Heltzel. Originally from Berlin, Germany, Rudolf was invited to Ireland in 1966 to set up and lead the trailblazing gold and silver studios at the Kilkenny Design Workshops. He never went home and eventually established his own workshop in Kilkenny. Rudolf’s jewellery is sold worldwide, and he has directly trained many goldsmiths working in the field today. The exhibition Rudolf Heltzel: In Precious Metal is a spectacular display of sculptural pendants by this master goldsmith, and it presents many of his most ambitious and technically complex designs. It runs at the gallery until April 18th, 2018. 

This Exhibition Will Make a Lasting Impression on You 

If you’re intrigued by how craftspeople make their work and the processes they use to create an object that will truly last, you may be interested in the Lasting Impressions exhibition. It’s a show of objects that will become tomorrow’s heirlooms, made by selected designers and makers who include something of themselves in every object they make. Curated by Gregory Parsons, it runs at the gallery from April 27th to July 4th, 2018.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your visit to Kilkenny today.