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.


  Gealltanas, airbrushed and ebonised oak, 23c gold leaf, pearlescent ink and slate, 2002.

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. He questioned the limitations of the lathe to turn symmetrical objects and he embraced abstract, artistic shapes and forms. His work became increasingly monumental in size and he turned large-scale pieces up to four feet in diameter. Kane started to use storm-felled timber and began expanding his various use of native woods; Irish oak, elm, ash, walnut, yew and sycamore. Kane also began turning bog oak, a soft wood when wet and difficult to turn when dry, which is known for its preserved age.

Gealltanas Detail

From 2000 onward, Kane’s style became increasingly flamboyant, yet the reference for his forms remained sourced in the archaeological heritage of his native Castledermot. This new body of work completely broke with convention. Pushing purist boundaries, Kane introduced the use of primary and metallic colours which accentuated focal points on vessels, decorative and wallmounted pieces. Once again he looked to the examples of the American pioneers who had begun to apply colour in their work for dramatic effect.

Millennium, ebonised, burr oak with 23c gold leaf, 2000

The introduction of pigments into woodturning received initial mixed reviews from a field predicated on the natural beauty of wood. Kane’s use of colour reflected a shift also in Irish wood turning which has gained wider acceptance in recent years. This new body of Kane’s work first appeared with his participation at Showcase, a trade fair exhibition held annually in the Royal Dublin Society. The introduction of gilding evokes a preciousness absent from his earlier wood turning and illustrates perfectly the evolution of Kane’s craft from its practical origins.

Slice, ebonised and textured elm with 23c gold leaf, 2009;

He constantly challenged himself in his use of textures, even using a chainsaw, fixed to the lathe,to cut radial lines into the wood. Once again Kane hints to archaeological references and the importance of the sun’s rays in pre-historic monuments such as Newgrange, in Co. Meath, which is aligned with the rising sun and light floods the inner chamber during the winter solstice.

Slice detail

Over time Kane perfected his ability to combine striking and subtle colours with textures on these large scale pieces. Kane’s large scale work became stylistically much more controlled and refined in the later part of 2008 to 2010. He concentrated on primary forms; circles, semi circles, squares and rectangles.

Galactic, ebonised oak with blue pearlescent ink, 2002