Home / Decorative Arts & History / Exhibitions / Current Exhibitions / Twenty Seven Years of the work of Irish Woodturner Emmet Kane

Twenty Seven Years of the work of Irish Woodturner Emmet Kane

This exhibition showcases the life and work of Emmet Kane


Please note that this temporary exhibition will close the 8th of January 2017.

Make sure you visit before then to see the exceptional work on display.

Cone of Colour, burr elm with blue pearlescent ink and dyed blue spikes, 2008;

Craftsman or artist? Creator of work or manipulator of nature? Form over material, or material the master of the form? To walk among Emmet Kane’s creations in the first retrospective exhibition of his life and work such questions may occur later, once you have fully gathered the sheer scale and diversity of his work in wood.

Emmet was born and raised in Castledermot, Co. Kildare. He comes from five generations of Master Craftsmen. Self-taught, Kane creates thin-walled hollow forms which defy the difficulties of the medium and whose use of colour, is more readily associated with ceramics or glass. Today, he works predominantly in native hardwoods, citing a particular fondness for Irish oak, which he textures and ebonises, gilds and colours. At times, his work looks like glass or plastic, even metal, until you draw near and see the texture or grain and wonder just how it was achieved.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Jennifer Goff, responsible for the Furniture and Eileen Gray collections who first spotted and acquired Kane’s work for the permanent collection in 2008. The exhibition explores Kane’s remarkable journey of development as an artist and woodturner from 1988 through to the present day, and features a huge array of work: from functional vessels and bowls, wall hangings, artistic pieces (both large and small), and recent small scale intimate works.

The exhibition is designed to help communicate to visitors the story and skill of Kane’s artistry and craft in a totally accessible and understandable way, through the objects themselves, images, graphics and short informative accompanying text. The work, produced over close to thirty years, will be displayed on the second floor of the south wing of the Museum at Collins Barracks, in an extensive, dedicated space that covers more than 160 square metres. A documentary accompanies the exhibition and a catalogue (€10) is for sale in the Museum shop.

This exhibition has been made possible by our sponsors ESB, Sisk Group, and CRH plc and will run at the National Museum of Ireland Collins Barracks until 8th January 2017.

ESB logo SISK logoCRH logo

© All images on this exhibition's web pages copyright of the Artist's estate and photographers Francis Morrin, Damien Maddock, Mark Harrison

Early work

Early work

The skill and technique of cutting and shaping wood, as it spins on a lathe, has existed in Ireland for centuries.

Large-scale Pieces

Large-scale Pieces

During the late 1990s Emmet Kane’s work evolved dramatically and there was a shift in his work from functional pieces toward the production of large-scale, decorative pieces.

Textures and Materials

Textures and Materials

Emmet Kane’s work celebrates texture, carefully balancing the machine precision of the lathe and the natural irregularities of the wood.

Abstract Forms and Coloured Spikes

Abstract Forms and Coloured Spikes

With the arrival of the new millennium Emmet Kane’s work radically evolved with a series of abstract forms.

Hollow Vessel

Hollow Vessel

The ‘hollow vessel’ has remained a constant form throughout Emmet Kane’s career.

Public and Private Commissions

Public and Private Commissions

Throughout his career Emmet Kane has produced a large body of public and private commissions.

New Work

New Work

With the recent acquisition of a giant lathe, Kane is once again producing monumental, large-scale pieces such as Lisnavagh 2/14.