Joyce in glass

From the Summer 2014 issue

Description, writes Eleanor Flegg. This article first featured in the Summer 2014 edition of the Irish Arts Review

The American glass artist Dale Chihuly has two exhibitions in Ireland this summer. ‘Ulysses Cylinders’ by Dale Chihuly and Seaver Leslie, a narrative painter in the American tradition; Flora C Mace, a sculptor and painter in glass, and Joey Kirkpatrick, opens at Dublin Castle Coach House on 18 June, to coincide with Bloomsday, and runs until 23 August before it embarks on a world tour. This series revisits a group of pieces known as the ‘Irish cylinders’, made by Chihuly in 1975. The ‘Ulysses Cylinders’ are hollow gold cylindrical vessels carrying imagery that describes the escapades of Leopold and Molly Bloom, and Stephen Daedalus around Dublin. ‘Suspended between a leaf of 24-carat gold and a skin of molten glass are elements of James Joyce’s iconic book captured in fluid images,’ writes Róisín de Búitlear. But akin to Ulysses, there are deep layers within the collaborative pieces: Leslie developed drawings based on different chapters from Ulysses while Chihuly envisioned the works made on cylinders covered in gold leaf, on each side of which an image is suspended in the skin of the glass on a layer of gold leaf. ‘It is hoped that this series of works will entice its onlookers to uncover the powerful mental imagery that is James Joyce’s Ulysses and its strong Irish cultural context alongside that of contemporary artistic expression in glass,’ writes Audrey Whitty, curator of European and Asian Glass at the Corning Museum of Glass, New York. Concurrently an exhibition of the artist’s signature works runs at the Solomon Gallery from 19 June – 31 July. Works include his Persian, Seaform, Jerusalem & Soft Cylinder series and ‘Waterford Sconce’ inspired by his experiences cutting glass with the craftsmen at Waterford Crystal in 1996 during his ‘Chihuly Over Venice’ international project.

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