Opening early October
Our Irish Chair: Tradition Revisited
Explore the design and exceptional crafting tradition of an engaging Irish chair type, and the creativity it continues to inspire.
Over a period of 90 years, the National Museum of Ireland has collected examples of a particular chair type known as the 'Sligo' chair or 'Tuam' chair - named after two towns in the northwest of Ireland. The chair was first recorded in 1832 in the Sligo area. It later became known as the Tuam chair, where it continues to be made today.
In Our Irish Chair: Tradition Revisited, the Museum's full collection of these chairs will go on display for the first time. This exhibition takes a closer look at this chair type and its place in the story of Irish design. It also celebrates makers who preserved this crafting tradition; and makers and artists of today who continue to be inspired by Our Irish Chair.
The Sligo or Tuam chair is a three-legged chair with a very distinctive design. It is well made, using ancient woodworking techniques. In 1832, the Dublin Penny Journal described it as 'an ancient oak chair' from the village of Drumcliffe in Co Sligo.
This exhibition is combined with a Tuam art project about this chair type by artists David Lilburn and Jan Frohburg. They chose this chair as an emblem of Tuam because the chair has been made in the Tuam area over the last 100 years. The artists created miniature metal sculptures of the chair and placed these around the town of Tuam. An artist’s map was created of the town’s history and heritage.
The 'Carlow chair' by artist and designer Sasha Sykes also features in this exhibition. The artist was inspired by the Sligo - Tuam chair and designed and created a modern chair made of acrylic embedded with organic material.
The exhibition also features chairs designed and crafted by the makers of tomorrow. The Museum invited students of Furniture Design at GMIT, Letterfrack (National Centre for Excellence in Furniture Design and Technology) to respond to the Museum’s collection of Sligo / Tuam chairs. The students reimagined the Sligo chair / Tuam chair and designed and made their own chairs for the modern home.
In celebrating Our Irish Chair and revisiting this enduring tradition, we hope this exhibition adds another chapter to the ongoing story of this chair type and its place in the history of Irish design.
Our Irish Chair: Tradition Revisited is located at:
A new exhibition about an Irish chair type crafted through the centuries.
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