News & Events

Ceramics Graduate Exhibition In Flux opens at the National Design & Craft Gallery

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland Announces Award Winners At Launch Of 2018 Ceramics Graduate Exhibition

In Flux, an exhibition presenting work by the 2018 graduates of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) Centre of Excellence in Ceramics, opened at the National Design & Craft Gallery in Kilkenny on Friday, 13 July.

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan T.D. spoke at the opening of In Flux which was launched by award-winning contemporary ceramicist, Sara Flynn. The exhibition showcases the innovation and diversity in ceramic design and technique of some of Ireland's newest makers establishing their identity in the ceramics sector.

Minister Halligan said: “Ireland’s vibrant design and craft sector makes an invaluable contribution to our economy and culture. It provides sustainable regional jobs right across the country and growing the sector is a specific component of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs. Specialist training facilities such as the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland Centre of Excellence in Ceramics play a crucial role in developing knowledge and skills to meet the current and future needs of key industry sectors. Developing a pipeline of skilled and innovative designers and makers is critical to our economic growth.”

Commenting on the exhibition, Sara Flynn said: “Recently I read this lovely quote by W.B. Yeats: ‘Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.’ It is most apt in the case of the Ceramics Skills & Design Course when one sees the work of the recent graduates in this exhibition. There is a tangible excitement and enthusiasm in the work on show. The work demonstrates experimentation and exploration of material, colour and form; and one can read energy, passion, enthusiasm… fire in their bellies as it were. The variety of styles on display demonstrates the individual voices and differing areas of focus across the personalities of the graduates, and in turn this may reflect or symbolise the variety of options and careers which may be chosen through this incredibly versatile medium and sector. The staff and students should be justifiably proud of a great show which launches the next wave of ambitious hard-working, skilled craftspeople. Bravo!”

In Flux represents the culmination of two years of intensive training in all aspects of ceramics skills and design at DCCoI’s internationally renowned Centre of Excellence in Ceramics which is based in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny. The intensive two-year skills-based programme is accredited through National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The course specialises in production skills, clay and glaze technology, kiln theory and operation, surface treatments, drawing and design, the history of ceramics and contemporary practice. 

Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: “Our skills-based programme offers excellent employment prospects. Of our 2016 cohort, 60% have started their own business and an overall 90% are employed. Over an intensive two years, this year’s graduates have developed both practical skills and essential business acumen. I would like to congratulate each of them on their achievements and wish them every success in developing an exciting and fulfilling career. Building on the experience and success of our courses in ceramics and jewellery, DCCoI’s vision is to work with partner organisations in developing centres of excellence in other key disciplines which would offer specialised training and access to facilities, leading to an emerging workforce with the experience and expertise necessary for the ongoing development of design and craft in Ireland.”

At the opening of In Flux, Chris Crawford from the UK was awarded Student of the Course 2018. Work by Korean-born Jin O’Sullivan was selected for the Chair’s Purchase Prize 2018 from DCCoI while Natasha Swan from Northern Ireland received the Chief Executive Award 2018.

Gus Mabelson, DCCoI Ceramics Skills Course Manager, commented: “Learning by doing is at the heart of the teachings of this course and throughout the past two years the students have worked diligently to improve their practical and creative skills, working with clay every day, gaining confidence in their abilities and developing their individual styles. Everything they have learned and the new skills they have acquired have laid the foundation for this exhibition and beyond, as well as instilled a strong sense of identity in the objects they make which they will take forward into the sector.”

In conjunction with the Kilkenny Group, the students designed and made four ranges of functional porcelain to be displayed and sold in the company’s flagship store on Nassau Street, Dublin during the month of September 2018, when they will also be delivering demonstrations and shop floor presentations at weekends.

In Flux presents final project work in each graduate’s signature style, reflecting their individual technical ability and design aesthetic and features contemporary craft in a variety of ceramic materials produced through a range of techniques. Visitors to the exhibition can view and purchase this hand-crafted ceramic work ranging from tableware to sculptural ceramics. A Meet the Makers Late Date event will take place in the gallery on Thursday, 19 July at 6pm where the graduates will outline the process and inspiration behind their work.

Four of the graduates will progress to immediate employment with established ceramics studios while others plan to complete further training or travel to gain additional experience abroad, with a view to developing their own studios in the future. The Ceramics Skills & Design Course has developed an excellent reputation and attracts applications from across Europe. Following an application and interview process for the 2018-2020 programme, all 12 places have been filled for the next course which will commence in September 2018.

The term ‘flux’ in ceramics is given to a material that will cause silica, which has a natural melting point of 1700°C, to melt at a lower temperature thus forming ceramic glazes. Rocks and minerals, such as talc, whiting and dolomite, which provide these fluxes, are essential building blocks when formulating and constructing glazes. In general terms, the word ‘flux’ also means continuous change and movement and can be applied to the development of ideas and designs. The creative process in any discipline requires a certain amount of flow and movement and the work produced by the students for this show is the result of actively moving things on, both with materials and thought processes. In short, their work is always in a state of flux; however, the word has added meaning in the field of ceramics.

In Flux runs at the National Design & Craft Gallery, Castle Yard, Kilkenny until Monday, 6 August 2018. Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday: 10am – 5.30pm; Sunday: 11am – 5.30pm; closed Mondays except Bank Holidays. Admission is free. For further details visit #CeramicsInFlux

- ENDS -

For further press information, please contact Elevate PR on 01 662 5652Tara Walsh – / Emer Igbokwe –




Meet the Makers Thursday 19 July, 6pmJoin us for a special Late Date to meet the new graduates of the DCCoI Ceramics Skills & Design Course. Listen as they discuss their shared learning experience and discover the ideas and processes behind the work in their exhibition In Flux. All welcome.   

Drop-in Activity: Clay Making 14 July - 6 AugustWe invite you to get creative, designing and making at our interactive drop-in activity and handling table. Imprint a pattern clay tile or hand build a vessel to add to our clay installation! Explore the wonder of glazes and read about clay masters.  

Creative Clay Day Saturday 21 JulyCraft Club (Drop-in), 11am & 12.30pm (4-13yrs): children will learn how to throw clay pots on the potter’s wheel. This will also be an opportunity for children to learn basic clay construction techniques such as coiling, slab building and how to create thumb pots.

Throw At Wheel (Drop-in), 2.30pm-4.30pm (14yrs-Adult): learn the technique of throwing on the potter’s wheel and how to decorate a clay pot or vessel.    

Workshops are free but please register or book via the following link: 


The 12 graduates of DCCoI’s Centre of Excellence in Ceramics come from diverse backgrounds in Ireland and internationally and entered the course while at various stages of their careers. Each has worked on developing their preferred style and approach to ceramics, and look to grow their skills after graduation, whether it be with further training or setting up their own business. Brief graduate biographies are stated below. Full biographies and artist statements are at:

Keith Clucas

Originally from Bray, Co. Wicklow, from an early age Keith was interested in craft and design, mainly woodwork to begin with. He developed an eye for detail while working fitting kitchens, tiling bathrooms or converting attics. His love of woodwork led him to enroll in the design course at Bray Adult Education Centre (BAEC) in 2014. It was during his time there that he discovered ceramics, and clay soon overtook his love for wood. Encouraged by his teachers at BAEC, he applied and successfully got a place on the Ceramics Skills & Design Course at DCCoI’s Centre of Excellence in Ceramics.

Chris Crawford

Chris was introduced to clay at school by a ceramicist who fostered his interest in making pots. He began to volunteer at exhibitions and selling fairs getting to know potters from around the UK and in 2013 moved to Stoke-on-Trent to volunteer at the British Ceramics Biennial. From there he found work with ceramic designer Reiko Kaneko and stayed in Stoke for the next three years. These experiences inspired him to seek further practical training and meet other potters, so he applied to DCCoI’s Centre of Excellence in Ceramics. Upon graduating, he would like to work for a small pottery or individual potter before eventually setting up his own studio which he hopes would be home to several full-time potters, as well as running classes and events. Instagram: @cmccrawford_20

Elaine Garvey

Born in the west of Ireland, Elaine moved to Galway City in 2011 to study Art and received her Hons Degree in Fine Art from the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in 2016, specialising in Ceramics. Having developed her hand-building techniques and producing sculptural work during her study, the desire to expand her skills and incorporate ceramic production techniques into her practice encouraged her to attend DCCol’s Ceramics Skills & Design Course in Thomastown, Kilkenny.  Instagram: @elainegarveyceramics

Francis Lloyd Jones

Francis Lloyd Jones has been surrounded by handmade pots and ceramics all his life. A background in Fine Art and a multidisciplinary practice led to a marrying of both the desire to obtain a craft skill and a persistent interest in functionality. Working for the Craft Potters Association and Ceramic Review magazine in the UK provided a prolonged exposure to current British studio ceramics, resulting in a clear idea of what appealed to him. Instagram: @francislklloydjones

Katrin Maier

In rural Germany, where Katrin grew up, she connected with nature. From her mother and grandmother, she learned to use her hands, to grow things, to make and mend. During her years in Berlin she soaked up historical and political knowledge and, while living in London, she learned to appreciate art. Her time in West Africa nurtured an interest in other cultures, in how people live and how they make sense of the world. In ceramics, she has found a material, a way of working and a life philosophy that brings together all these parts that are so important to who she is. Before being accepted on the DCCoI Ceramics Skills & Design Course, she was largely self-taught, and she retains an intuitive approach to making and aesthetics.  Instagram: @katrin.d.maier

David McComiskey

Growing up in Belfast, David knew he wanted to work creatively with his hands from a young age. He has always had an interest in geology, fossils in particular. He first used clay in his school art classes after being encouraged by teachers to try a 3D medium. After school he went to study Contemporary Applied Art at the University of Ulster, Belfast. It was here that he developed an interest in functional pottery while developing his skills in throwing on the potter’s wheel. He has recently been accepted on a residency programme in Denmark and hopes to set up a studio in Belfast when he finishes his studies. Instagram: @d_mccomiskey_ceramics

Hannah McDonnell

Growing up in the north Dublin seaside town of Skerries in the ‘90s, Hannah fell in love with art and craft from a young age. She studied Art in Secondary School and followed this with a B.A. (Hon) in Ceramics Design from Limerick School of Art and Design. It was in Limerick where she found the potter’s wheel and wanted to develop her throwing skills to produce tableware and one-off pieces. After this course, she hopes to work for another potter, to apply for the ‘Adopt A Potter’ scheme and then set up her own studio. Instagram: @hannahmcdonnellceramics

Jin O’Sullivan

Korean Jin O’Sullivan used to design exhibitions and interiors before settling in Ireland in 2012. It was in this country that she first met and fell in love with pottery and where she created her first pot. Since then she has travelled back and forth between Ireland and Korea, learning more about the discipline. She believes that Ireland is the place where she will grow up as a potter and build on her story.

Louise Robinson

In September 2016, Louise left Hartlepool, on the coast of North East England, and moved to Ireland to pursue her love of ceramics. She was first introduced to ceramics at school and was immediately hooked. She has always enjoyed drawing and making things and bringing ideas to life in clay felt like a natural progression. Her first experience of ceramic techniques was producing coil- and slab-built pots, and the DCCoI Ceramics Skills & Design Course has given her the chance to learn to throw. Instagram: @lourobinsonceramics

Róisín O’Connor

After graduating from The Courtauld Institute of Art, Róisín worked in gallery education with the William Morris Society and pursued a career as an antiquarian book seller at Henry Sotheran. Her background as an art historian has provided her with a wealth of source material from which to draw inspiration as a craftsperson. She has accepted a place to study for an MA in Ceramics and Glass at the Royal College of Art London upon graduating from DCCoI’s Centre of Excellence in Ceramics. She is also a Team Leader with the Michelangelo Foundation in Venice, and candidate for a Future Makers support or award. Instagram: @rocandclay

Etaoin O’Reilly

Etaoin is an Irish-born ceramic artist and studied at the National College of Art and Design where she received a degree in Craft Design. In 2014, she won the overall Student Future Makers Award for her degree show work, ‘The Buggaplants’ which enabled her to travel to London where she interned for Kate Malone. On return from London she moved to the National Sculpture Factory in Cork where she began to work on the new series of Buggaplants called the ‘Jorogumo’. In 2016, she returned to the National College of Art and Design where she undertook a one-year residency and after which she held her first solo show in the NCAD Gallery. She is excited to pass on the skills that she has learned on this course to the students of Limerick School of Art and Design where she will begin a residency in October. @etaoinoreilly

Natasha Swan

Born and raised in a rural sea-side town on the East Coast of Northern Ireland, Natasha grew up exploring the outdoors and always had a passion for making. During her Third Level education she experienced clay and the huge possibilities and challenges of this versatile material. She gained a BA in Contemporary Applied Art from Ulster University, Belfast before moving to Thomastown to further her skills in ceramics. She has a particular interest in combining mark-making and simple wheel thrown forms, and inspiration comes from various sources, including graphic artists, painters and other ceramics makers. After graduating, Natasha plans to look for premises to rent in Belfast and would like to work alongside other artists of various making skills to develop and strengthen a local network of craftspeople. Combining a pottery with a small café is something she aspires to do, connecting the community with making and enjoying hand-made tableware. Instagram: @natashaswanceramics

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) Centre of Excellence in Ceramics

The DCCoI Centre of Excellence in Ceramics delivers an intensive two-year skills-based programme which is renowned in the industry both nationally and internationally, and is accredited through National University of Ireland, Maynooth. The ceramics course specialises in production skills, clay and glaze technology, kiln theory and operation, surface treatments, drawing and design, the history of ceramics and contemporary practice. Situated in the beautiful Island Mill in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, the programme provides superb facilities, with electric, gas and wood fired kilns, allowing students to build up an extensive knowledge of techniques, materials and processes. Throughout the two-year programme, visiting tutors with specialist expertise give demonstrations and lectures. DCCoI’s vision is to work with partner organisations in developing Centres of Excellence in other key disciplines to ensure industry needs are met through specialised training and access to facilities.

About the National Design & Craft Gallery

Established by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland in 2000, the National Design & Craft Gallery is Ireland’s leading centre for contemporary craft and design. It exhibits Irish and international designers, artists and makers who push boundaries in their engagement with the making process. Its mission is to inspire appreciation, creativity and innovation, and it plays a critical role in building understanding of craft and material culture in Ireland.

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland

The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, stimulating innovation, championing design thinking and informing Government policy. DCCoI's activities are funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCoI currently has 64 member organisations and over 2,500 registered clients.