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NCAD graduates show off their handiwork at first exhibition since 2019

The showcase runs at NCAD until June 14


Sean Dowse from the School of Jewellery & Objects at NCAD. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Sean Dowse from the School of Jewellery & Objects at NCAD. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

Sean Dowse from the School of Jewellery & Objects at NCAD. Photo: Marc O'Sullivan

The challenges of motherhood and growing up as an undiagnosed autistic person are just two of the themes explored by this year’s graduates from the National College of Art and Design (NCAD).

Back for the first time in-person since 2019 and free to the public, NCAD Works is a week-long showcase featuring its students’ innovative exhibitions in a range of mediums.

Running from today until June 14, this year’s show sees 247 BA and MA graduates revealing their unique creations.

Print student Emma Scully wanted to look at the homeless crisis in a “more humane way that connects everyone together”. Her final-year project features a bed and a patchwork quilt with individual designs.

A digital counter above the bed bears the digits 9,825 to represent the latest tally of people in emergency accommodation.

“I went around Dublin city and asked people living on the streets to draw images based on their dreams at night, so the images were based on people experiencing homelessness,” she said.

“I turned the images into copper-plate etchings, printed on to canvas, and then made the quilt. The idea of that is to connect everyone together so each one is an individual story, but put together it reflects a community.”

A few of the homeless people she met were coming to her open day, which was “really nice” she said.

Paint student Anna Byrne drew on her own experiences as a mum to her two-year-old son for her project, ‘The Hidden Realities of Motherhood’. 

Along with canvases depicting parenthood, she has constructed an eye-catching tower of nappies to reflect the “tedious, repetitive tasks” involved in being a parent.

“I wanted to be a voice for mothers, to break the silent stigma in society that just because you’re giving out, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to a mother or you regret it,” she said.

“You might feel you have to stay quiet or else people might think, ‘Why did she have kids? It was never going to be easy.’ So I’ve just pushed that boundary and brought it to my art.”

Other portfolio exhibits include Lorraine Quigley’s ‘A Minute in My Life’, where she creates a sensory room and invites visitors to hear about her experiences of life as an autistic person. She said she uses her artwork as a form of therapy.

Many of NCAD’s students are neurodivergent.

Professor Sarah Glennie, NCAD director, said there was huge excitement among staff and students to finally show off all their work to the public with an in-person show. 

“It’s been a difficult few years for this tranche of graduates. They got hit in the first and second year with periods of time off campus,” she said.

“It was incredible how they adapted to learning and teaching online.”

Employment possibilities are plentiful, she said, as there has been a shift in terms of recognition of the importance of the arts.

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