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Significant Irish design and craft presence at cultural exhibition Homo Faber, Venice
Jennifer Hickey is drawn to the beauty and subtlety of the natural world.

VENICE.- Ireland will have significant representation at major cultural exhibition Homo Faber which takes place in Venice, Italy from 14th to 30th September 2018. Seven leading Irish designers and makers have been selected to participate in this landmark exhibition and 12 graduates and students from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) Centres of Excellence in Ceramics and in Jewellery & Goldsmithing have been chosen for the Young Ambassadors programme, a unique joint educational and cultural initiative as part of Homo Faber.

Organised by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship, Homo Faber aims to put fine craftsmanship on the global map and increase recognition and visibility for master artisans. The exhibition will bring together a vast range of materials and disciplines and will offer an immersive experience; visitors will be able to meet master artisans or virtually enter their workshops, to observe conservators at work and wander through worlds of fine craftsmanship. Covering nearly 4,000 square metres, on San Giorgio Maggiore Island, Homo Faber will offer the public a rare opportunity to explore the island and the magnificent complex of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, including areas that are generally not accessible to the public.

The seven Irish craftspeople participating are: glass artist Róisín de Buitlèar; basket maker Joe Hogan; ceramicist Jennifer Hickey; glass artist Alison Lowry; silversmith Cara Murphy; sculptor Nuala O’Donovan; and artist and sculptural furniture maker Sasha Sykes.  All are members of DCCoI’s PORTFOLIO programme which actively works to grow the reputations and potential of designer-makers across all major disciplines of contemporary craft.

The exhibiting craftspeople were selected for Homo Faber by the Michelangelo Exhibitions Committee having been shortlisted for consideration by Jean Blanchaert, curator of the Best of Europe pavilion for Homo Faber. Criteria for selection was based on a series of principles as set out by Alberto Cavalli, director of Fondazione Cologni, Italy, in his book The Master’s Touch: Essential Elements of Artisanal Excellence, published in May 2017. The book identifies 11 attributes, including authenticity, competence, creativity, originality, innovation and tradition that signify mastery of material and craftmanship. The Irish makers will be part of a group of 150 master craftspeople who will exhibit 300 works in the Best of Europe pavilion, one of a total of 13 pavilions on Cini Giorgio.

In addition to the exhibiting craftspeople, five recent graduates of the DCCoI Centre of Excellence in Ceramics and seven current students of the DCCoI Centre of Excellence in Jewellery & Goldsmithing have been selected to participate in the Young Ambassadors programme and will form the largest representation from a single educational institution at Homo Faber. Following a rigorous selection process, 105 talented students of applied arts and design from 26 education institutions in 15 European countries were chosen to bring Homo Faber to life for visitors in the Young Ambassadors programme which is an initiative of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in partnership with the Michelangelo Foundation.

The Young Ambassadors will be present throughout Homo Faber to interact with visitors to exhibition spaces, explaining the many fascinating objects on display and imparting their own knowledge of the skills and techniques being used by master artisans right before their eyes. Participation in this one-of-a-kind programme offers the Young Ambassadors a unique opportunity to meet some of Europe’s finest artisans, designers, institutions and luxury houses, as well as to interact with their peers and to form a network to carry with them into their future careers.

Connections between DCCoI and the Michelangelo Foundation were developed through the World Crafts Council Europe, an international organisation of which Ireland hosts the Presidency up to 2021, facilitating Ireland’s significant presence at Homo Faber. Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, said: “I congratulate all of the participants from Ireland who have been selected for such a unique and high-profile cultural exhibition. Homo Faber will showcase the finest of European craftsmanship across multiple sites in the glorious city of Venice, and it is testament to Ireland’s reputation and high standing among its peers in design and craft that such a large group has been chosen to take part. The selection of our graduates and students as Young Ambassadors is also a reflection of the enormous talent, skill and dedication of these young craftspeople as well as the highly respected reputation of the DCCoI Centres of Excellence in Europe.”

She continued: “To be chosen to partake in such a prestigious cultural event is a huge opportunity for both our established and emerging makers to not only demonstrate their abilities, innovation and imagination on a world stage, but to meet other creatives from all over Europe, make connections and soak up all that an important exhibition such as Homo Faber has to offer. We wish all participants well in their adventure.”

Homo Faber takes place at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 14 – 30 September and admission is free.

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