The exhibition at Collins Barracks was officially opened by Prince Albert of Monaco
Prince Albert of Monaco has officially opened an exhibition in Dublin honouring the legacy of the famous Enniscorthy-born designer Eileen Gray whom he described as an ‘Irish genius’.
Prince Albert paid a private visit to the National Museum of Ireland, Decorative Arts & History in Collins Barracks on Friday, to launch ‘Making and Momentum, In Conversation with Eileen Gray’, which had its debut in France during the summer.
The group exhibition of contemporary artworks curated by the award-wining Wexford-born fashion designer and artist Richard Malone, celebrates the work of Gray and the influence of Irish art and design worldwide. It will continue at the museum until September 23 after which the pieces will be sold.
Eileen Gray, who was born in Brownswood, Enniscorthy in 1878, was a pioneer of the Modernist movement and one of the most celebrated and influential designers and architects of the of the last century.
Her ‘Dragon’ chair sold for $28m in 2009, making it the most expensive piece of 20th Century furniture sold at auction.
Richard Malone (30), from Ardcavan in Wexford, is based in London and counts Tilda Swinton, Roisin Murphy, Bjork, Debbie Harry, Rihanna, Kate Moss and Beyonce among his clients and collaborators.
He has described Eileen Gray as an early inspiration in his career and to create the exhibition, he joined forces with the Association Cap Moderne, a charitable body set up to drive the restoration of Gray’s famous E-1027 villa in France, which was completed and opened to visitors in July .
During his visit, Prince Albert who is President of the Honorary Committee of the Association Cap Moderne, said the restoration of E-1027 is more than a case of preserving an amazing example of architecture and design.
“It is a vital strand in the development of Modernism, brought there by an Irish genius and applied for the first time in a Mediterranean context.”
He said he was delighted to visit Dublin to conduct the official opening and to view the impressive collection of Eileen Gray’s works on permanent display in the National Museum of Ireland which holds one of the largest collections of Eileen Gray’s work in the world.
The works in the Making and Momentum exhibition will be auctioned at the end of September, with the proceeds split between the Association Cap Moderne and the participating artists.
The pieces are by Richard Malone; the ceramicist Sara Flynn; sculptor and Venice Biennale contributor Niamh O’ Malley; artist Laura Gannon; rugmakers Ceadogán; Mourne Textiles; Nellie Malone, the late grandmother of Richard Malone and an archive work by the late abstract painter Mainie Jellet, a protege of Eileen Gray.
Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff said the museum was delighted to support the important achievement of the Association Cap Moderne in preserving E-1027 by hosting the exhibition.
"Housing one of the greatest collections of Eileen Gray material globally, the National Museum of Ireland is looking forward to building on the achievements at E-1027 through future initiatives and exhibitions that further increase accessibility and engagement with Eileen Gray internationally ", she said
Richard Malone said Gray was always in the ether as he grew up, as “ a sort of artistic legend and daring queer undefinable female maker - who happened to come from the same county as me.”
"Her story was often told to me by my grandmother, Nellie, as a kind of proof that anyone can become anything from anywhere.”
He added: “Eileen Gray’s work and legacy represent a bold, undefinable personal language and methodology that transcends time and trend. Her designs, and particularly her approach to making has influenced countless creatives”.
He said the works in the exhibition were not directly inspired by Gray’s but her ‘spirited experimentation, dedication and commitment to her craft’ are ever present.
An online educational platform is running alongside the exhibition at www.makingandmomentum.com to introduce a new generation to Eileen Gray’s archive.