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‘Niamh Barry – Light on Earth’ Exhibit opens at the National Museum of Ireland

World renowned & pioneering Dublin artist celebrated in first Irish solo exhibition


The ‘Niamh Barry – Light on Earth’ exhibition will be launched at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks this evening, celebrating the work of contemporary Irish artist Niamh Barry, one of the world’s leading innovators in the use of LED technology.

A Dublin native and resident, Niamh was one of the first artists in the world to create ‘edge lit’ pieces using LED technology and, since then, she has achieved significant commercial and critical success internationally.

Her signature works are highly sought after and included in many prestigious public and private collections around the world. Her client list includes some of the leading interior designers and architects internationally, amongst them, Peter Marino, Nate Berkus, Miles Redd and David Easton and Kelly Hoppen.

One of her most recent commissions in Ireland, was a monumental light sculpture in the new Central Bank of Ireland HQ.

While she has exhibited in locations such as New York, San Francisco, Milan and London, this exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts & History is Niamh’s first solo exhibition in Ireland.

After graduating from NCAD in 2001 specialising in ceramics, Niamh spent a number of years making conceptual furniture and lighting and later a brief detour into the film industry. Following that she spent more than a decade making custom lighting designs for commercial installations.

In 2004 Niamh made her first edge lit piece Chain but it was in 2009 / 2010 she made Fouette, her first bronze, curvilinear, edge-lit piece. This prototype, composed of a mild steel frame, clad in bronze with handmade glass mosaic, was a ‘breakaway piece’ in this art form. Five elliptical connections take the appearance of the ballet position from which the piece derives its name. This, her original bronze ‘edge lit’ creation, is one of the 6 pieces on display at the National Museum of Ireland and she has also donated it to be part of the Museum’s permanent collection.

In addition to Fouette, the exhibition also includes En Pointe II, an Avant Garde table with sleek angular lines; Model of a Staircase, a model of a unique large-scale piece measuring 8.5m commissioned for a private house in central Paris; the Model of Vessel Scape, the monumental sculpture she was commissioned to create for the new Central Bank of Ireland; Walking, a series of preliminary sketches and bronze maquette, which ultimately led to her first freestanding sculpture; Gesture II, a mirror polished hand formed solid bronze opal glass mosaic with LEDS; Vessel II, a voluptuous light sculpture with LEDs; and Propulsion, a large, bronze LED light sculpture specifically commissioned for the exhibition.

Chair of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland, Catherine Heaney, said: “The role of the Museum is to collect, preserve and share our nation’s greatest treasures and cultural heritage. This is a careful and considered ongoing process, and through the expertise of our staff, we are collecting items of importance today - like Niamh Barry’s Fouette - so that they may be enjoyed and studied by our visitors for many years to come.”

Dr Jennifer Goff, Curator of Furniture, Musical Instruments and the Eileen Gray Collection, is the curator of the exhibition. She said; “Niamh is quite literally a world leader in her art form. Her innovative approach to light sculptures using LED technology is visually very striking and beautiful and also environmentally sustainable.  In my view, she is a modern-day Eileen Gray and I am delighted that we are in a position to work with her and to study her approach, while she is still very much at the peak of her career. I think students and lovers of art will particularly appreciate the insights provided into Niamh’s creative process within the exhibition and this aligns well with the Museum’s mission to educate as well as to preserve.”

Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with Niamh on this exhibition. Her exquisite work is captivating, and, in this exhibition, we offer our audiences an opportunity to not simply observe, but to delve into the fascinating and visually stimulating world of Niamh’s work through an exploration of her creative process. We are especially honoured by Niamh’s decision to donate her work Fouette to our decorative arts and history collections for audiences to enjoy into the future”.

Niamh Barry said; “I’m honoured to be exhibiting in our National Museum. I create my sculptures viscerally, to be seen with your eyes but to be experienced emotionally, and I hope that visitors to the Museum will enjoy visiting them and also learning about the creative process that is involved in their development. Each piece takes hundreds of hours to create and I am grateful to my 8 colleagues in my studio that support me in this work on a daily basis.”   

‘Niamh Barry Light on Earth’ is a yearlong exhibition and opens to the public at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks on Friday, November 30 2018.

More info and examples of her work here https://niamhbarry.com/