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Kevin O’Dwyer

A Sparkling Party
Selected wo r ks i n S i l v e r

e b l a n a g allery
Kevin O’Dwyer | A Sparkling Party
Selecte d w ork s in Silver
elEanor flegg | A Sparkling Party

kevin O’Dwyer’s artwork in silver is light of touch and contrast between surfaces, but is also cognisant of the pragmatic
light of heart; the stuff of which museum collections are made. value of patterning, which does not show fingerprints! O’Dwyer
Angular forms combine with flowing forms, playing off against collaborated with a company, which normally etches computer
each other. A little triangular Sauceboat curls its handle in the air boards for industry, to create patterned sheets of silver using
like the tail of a cartoon mouse, while a Vessel in silver and gold acid resist technique. ‘It was about taking something that was no
applies the same airy curl to a more dignified sculptural form. longer used and reinventing it in a contemporary manner, taking
O’Dwyer has an affinity with the sculptural interpretation of a traditional technique and bringing it forward.’ Once patterned,
mundane household items, but especially with teapots. His Party the sheets of silver can then be formed and fabricated, albeit with
Teapot abandons itself to a wild coiffeur of silver, like the wedding care so that the process of soldering does not mark the surface.
headdress of an old lady with more money than sense, while a self The visual impulsiveness of some of the pieces, resplendent
contained Rocking Teapot balances quietly on a curved base, made with curlicues of silver, belies the exactitude with which they are
from a continuation of its handle. made. Nowhere is this more obvious than in O’Dwyer’s Landscape
O’Dwyer’s pieces carry their often extraordinary forms with Series of reticulated silver boxes, the architectural forms of which
the same assurance with which a snail carries its shell. A crazy require a rigorous symmetry that is difficult to achieve in hot
arrangement if you think about it, but part of a lovely and integral metal. ‘It is difficult,’ he admits, ‘to keep the silver from warping, to
visual balance. O’Dwyer can do sober too, with an austere and maintain the crispness of line. Bulbous shapes are easier; flowing
architectural Coffee Service without a curve in sight. His textured forms are more forgiving than straight lines.’
and patterned surfaces, which do interesting things with reflected The lids of the boxes are reticulated. This is a surface finish that
light, are the antithesis of the usual high polish of silver. Pattern gives them the appearance of miniature geographic landscapes
has been a significant element of his work over time, initially formed in silver, like aerial photographs viewed through a
in response to the patterned tin roofs of Georgia, where he was stereoscope. This effect is created through a process that requires
working as an artist in residence in the early 1980s, and the way a fine balance of heat and control. The sterling silver is depleted
in which they contributed to the interplay of light within the of its copper content by a process of alternating heat and acid
landscape. He researched the traditional patterning of silver, treatments, leaving a thin surface layer of fine silver. This, having
which harks back to the great rolling mills of nineteenth-century a higher melting point than the sterling silver underneath, is
silver manufacturing workshops of Birmingham where a pattern heated until it forms a delicate skin over the molten substrate. Like
was engraved on steel and then printed repeatedly on vast sheets cooling lava, the surface buckles and crumples under the tension,
of silver. The bases of embellished trays were rolled out of the press further manipulated by the silversmith who uses a sharp flame to
in sheets, in the manner of the printed textiles of the same era. paint with the silver, working just below the flashpoint.
It was, he explains, a matter of discovering how patterning Reticulation first evolved in the Fabergé studios of Tsarist
could be used for unique contemporary pieces. Eventually he Russia. Many of the Fabergé craftsmen were Finns who, when
achieved the result that he required, using a photo etching tech- the studios closed during the Bolshevik revolution, brought the
nique, which has been applied to the Architectural Coffee Service technique back to Scandinavia. With emigration the technique
with its elongated bog yew handles and the Cityscape series of spread to America. O’Dwyer, who studied silversmithing in
salt and pepper shakers. His repetitive patterns are inspired Chicago in the late 1970s, was introduced to reticulation by the
by nature and the traditional patterns of Japan’s Edo period (1603- Finnish metalsmith Heikki Seppa, who had trained with one of
1868), which were used on textiles for ceremonial kimonos. the Fabergé artists and used the process in his own work.
The combination of pattern and high polish create a dramatic Glass and silver are bedfellows of long standing, but their

Teapot, architectural series
Forged, fabricated and patterned sterling silver. Rosewood handle
rachael Naughton | Eblana Gallery
companionship to date has been staid and confined to dining table When Eblana Gallery opened in 2006 our
or sideboard. O’Dwyer has brought the respectable partnership of aim was to represent artists of the highest stand-
glass container with silver stopper into the bedroom, or possibly ard of design and creativity in their respective
the boudoir, in the form of the scent bottle. It is probably fair
fields of contemporary applied arts. Among the
to say that the scent bottle, as a household object, is normally
considered to have had its day. But O’Dwyer, employing a certain foremost artists working with silver today is
amount of audacity, has given this most anachronistic of items Kevin O’Dwyer. We were very familiar with his
a contemporary outing. ‘Glass, like silver, is a material that can work, stretching back over nearly thirty years,
be manipulated either hot or cold; its surface can be patterned, and had seen his pieces regularly at exhibitions,
laminated, cast, or polished to create strong sensuous forms in the press and in private collections. His pieces
or architectural elements,’ he says. ‘The combination of these
display a stunning imagination and creativity in
materials over the past two centuries has focused on traditional
forms for functional use. I’m looking at a way of taking this pairing their unique form and design. Kevin had exhib-
into the twenty-first century’. ited all over the world throughout his career but
With bodies formed of clear glass – aqueous and weighty he had never had a permanent relationship with
– and silver stoppers of the wildest frivolity imaginable, the scent a gallery in Dublin and we were delighted when
bottles have an unarguable balance and beauty. They reflect not Kevin agreed to be represented by us.
only a dialogue between materials – and it seems that glass and
We have displayed and commissioned a wide
silver have found a fresh topic of conversation – but also a creative
dialogue between artists. The glass shapes evolved in a hot glass array of Kevin’s individual works as well as his
studio in Minneapolis, the product of a collaboration between smaller collections of tableware and jewellery.
O’Dwyer, as silversmith, and the glass artist Andy Shea, who has Clients who have commissioned one off pieces
been described as one of the godfathers of the American art glass have all appreciated the beautiful form and qual-
movement. ‘As artists we have a tendency to work in isolation’ ity embedded in his unique designs. His pieces
says O’Dwyer. ‘Collaborating with like-minded artists opens up
have proved exceptionally popular with our
an opportunity for creative dialogue that pushes the material
and design possibilities. We started with my drawings and his clients, both life long collectors of silver and
expertise as a glassmaker – but the forms evolved as we worked also with a younger generation seeking a more
with the molten glass – there’s always an element of surprise.’ individual style.
Probably because of its value, silver has historically been treated Although Kevin’s work has been featured in
with ponderous seriousness, leaving its traditional manifestations solo exhibitions internationally, this will be his
– the teapot and the candlestick – ripe for reinvention. O’Dwyer has
first solo exhibition in Ireland. It is Eblana’s pleas-
devoted the best part of three decades to remapping the geography
of silver, his work demonstrating that neither the price of the raw ure to host this outstanding collection of silver-
material, nor the skill with which it is crafted, need stand in the ware and sculpture and particularly the stunning
way of levity. new series of hand blown glass and sterling
silver scent bottles that will be the heirlooms of
for over 25 years my artwork has explored the subtleties of ritual
and imagination. irish prehistoric art, bronze-age artefacts, early
monastic metalwork, 20th century design and architecture are
my creative influences. equipped with this visual vocabulary i
create artefacts that often combine the textured surfaces and
flowing lines of our past with the strong and austere forms of
modern architecture. the ultimate goal is to create a work of art
that is timeless, thought provoking and responsive to the human
spirit. a childhood divided between the rich monastic ruins of
tipperary and the skyscrapers of manhattan has profoundly
influenced my sense of place and the way i approach the creation
of intimate artefacts or site-specific installations.
Candlestick Centrepiece ( Detail shot)
Hand forged sterling silver
Hand forged, formed and fabricated sterling silver, scratch
brush finish, 24ct gold plate on sterling silver handle
Salt and Pepper shakers, architectural series
Formed, fabricated and patterned sterling silver
The Ultimate in Sterling
architectural digest, usa

Coffee service
Formed, fabricated, patterned and engraved sterling silver. Bog
Yew handles (carbon dated 4000 years old), glass/silver tray
Party Teapot, the Mardi Gras series
Raised, forged, fabricated sterling silver, scratch brush finish,
Kilkenny limestone base
Vessel, architectural series
Formed, fabricated sterling silver, scratch brush finish, Bog Yew handle.
Scent Bottles
Hand forged and fabricated sterling silver, Hand blown glass (Andy Shea)
O’Dwyer’s silverware, teapots and candlesticks are truly dramatic in design.
Each beautiful handcrafted piece defies convention. Indeed, their ambiguity
blurs the boundaries between function, fashion and pure sculpture.
ramez ghazoul | Director, Artizana Gallery, UK

Candlestick Centrepiece
Hand forged and fabricated sterling silver
Teapot Scent Bottle
Hand forged and fabricated sterling silver, hand blown glass (Andy Shea)
Vessel, architectural series
Formed, fabricated and patterned sterling silver
Kilkenny limestone handle
Landscape Boxes
Hand formed and fabricated sterling silver, reticulated sterling silver tops, scratch brush finish
O’Dwyer’s extravagant teapots have the same confident presence as those
Rocco examples of the eighteenth century that made teatime such a social
and cultural focal point.
helen clifford, curator | 20th Century Silver, British Crafts Council, UK

Rocking Teapot
Hand forged, formed and fabricated sterling silver
Kilkenny limestone base, turned steel pendulum
Coffee pot and creamer
Formed, fabricated, patterned and engraved sterling silver.
Bog Yew handles (carbon dated 4000 years old)
Left: Sauce boat
Hand forged and fabricated sterling silver

Right: Party Teapot
Hand forged and fabricated sterling silver,
24ct gold plate on sterling silver handle
Candlestick Centrepiece
Raised, formed and fabricated sterling silver
Kilkenny limestone base
The future of silver is in the hands of modern craftsmen such as Kevin O’Dwyer
who uses the wealth of past experience to forge ahead with new ideas.
elise taylor, curator of silver | The Ulster Museum, Belfast, N. Ireland

Coffee service, architectural series
Formed and fabricated sterling silver
Scratch brush finish, Bog oak handles (carbon dated 4000 years old)
Naughton Institute, Trinty College Dublin
Commissioned by Trinity Foundation
Formed, fabricated and engraved sterling silver,
Formed, fabricated and engraved bronze, Granite base
Kevin J.O’Dwyer
The work of Kevin O’Dwyer is internationally renowned and is SOLO EXHIBITIONS
represented in both private and public collections including Nelson
2010 Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland
Mandela, King Karl Gustas of Sweden, President Clinton, The Japa-
2008 Eblana Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
nese Imperial Family, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The
Pratt Fine Arts Centre, Seattle, USA
National Museum of Ireland, The High Museum, Atlanta, The Ulster
2005 Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland
Museum, Belfast, Sparta Teapot Museum, N. Carolina, The Racine Mu-
2004 Slidell Cultural Centre, Louisiana, USA.
seum of Art, Wisconsin and The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin.
The J. Cotter Gallery, Vail, Colorado, U.S. A.
Although he began his working life in the field of biotechnology,
2002 Hibernia, Neptune Beach, Florida, U.S. A.
Kevin O’Dwyer has been a silversmith for 30 years. In the late 1970s,
2000 The J. Cotter Gallery, Vail, Colorado, U.S. A.
in Chicago, he began to study metal work at night with Harriet Dries-
Hibernia, Atlantic Beach, Florida, U.S. A.
sigger. It soon became a passion and he left industry to apprentice
1999 Espace Paul Ricard, Paris, France
with Bill Frederick, whose modernist work pushed away from the
The Ulster Museum, Belfast, N. Ireland
traditional functionalism of silver, and Heikki Seppa who pioneered
Roger Billcliffe Gallery, Glasgow, Scotland
anticlastic raising. O’Dwyer came back to Ireland in 1987. It was not
1998 The J. Cotter Gallery, Vail, Colorado, U.S. A.
a buoyant time in Irish economic history. O’Dwyer continued to ex-
The J. Cotter Gallery, Beaver Creek, Colorado, U.S. A.
hibit overseas in the US, the UK, and in Europe. He has represented
1996 Hibernia, Atlanta, U.S. A.
Ireland in over forty international exhibitions including four Silver
1994 Schneider Gallery, Chicago, U.S. A.
Triennials (European Touring exhibitions), Silver as Water (Neth-
Artizana Gallery, Prestbury, England
erlands), The Art of Dining (Japan), Euro-Fire in the Land of Leige
1992 Henri Bendel, New York and Chicago, U.S. A.
(European Year of Culture, Belgium), 20th Century Silver (British
1991 Hibernia; Atlantic Beach, Florida, U.S. A.
Craft Council), Silver and Tea (Goldsmith’s Hall, London), Table Man-
1987 Boyton Beach Gallery; Florida, U.S. A.
ners (Goldsmith’s Hall, London), Sculpture, Objects and Functional
1986 Artistic Ventures; Hilton Head, South Carolina, U.S. A.
Art (Chicago and New York), Teapot Treasures (Hudson Valley Mu-
1984 Complete Accessories; Winnetka, IL, U.S. A.
seum, USA), Inspired by Tea, A Loose Interpretation (Celestial Sea-
1983 Mazur-Mazur Gallery; Deerfield; IL, U.S. A.
soning, USA), 30 Silver Articles for 10 Silversmiths ( Italy), Design
for a Changing World (Taiwan), Schmuckszene ‘92 (Germany), Expo
92 (Seville Worlds Fair), International 20th Century Arts Fair (New
York), Spotlight (American Crafts Council touring exhibition), Shell
Structures (SNAG 99 USA), Boca Raton Museum (USA) and Tampa The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Museum (USA). National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin
As an artist, O’Dwyer has a singular style and profile, which suc- The Ulster Museum; Belfast, N. Ireland
ceeded in having him named as one of the 100 most influential Irish The High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. A.
Americans by Irish America magazine in 2007. He received the pres- Racine Museum of Art, Wisconsin, U.S. A.
tigious Irish Crafts Council Research Bursary Award in 2008, which Sparta Teapot Museum, North Carolina, USA
provided an opportunity for further research into the development of The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin, Ireland
his glass and sterling silver series of work. O’Dwyer has been actively Governor’s Palace, Liege, Belgium
involved in both the arts and heritage since his return to Ireland. As Swiss Embassy; Beijing, China Mr. Tony O’Malley, Ireland
Espace Paul Ricard, Paris, France
initiator of the Lough Boora International Sculpture Symposium he Swiss Embassy; Paris, France Dr. Brian Kennedy, N. Ireland
Kamm Teapot Foundation, USA
won the prestigious Business2Arts Award in 2003. He established and Papal Nuncio, Ireland Mr. Eddie Jordan, Ireland
Celestial Seasonings Teapot Collection, U.S. A.
directs Sculpture in the Parklands, a sculpture park, which recently Egyptian Embassy, Ireland Mary Harney, Ireland
Sculpture in the Parklands, Ireland
won the National Award for Best Public Sculpture. He conceived and University of Georgia; Columbus, Georgia, U.S. A. Liam Neeson, Ireland/U.S. A.
directed Stories from a Sacred Landscape, a book that looks at the President Nelson Mandela, South Africa Georgia State Building; Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. A. Ciaran MacGonigal, Ireland
monastic sites and artwork of County Offaly and he has curated the King Juan Carlos, Spain Stolichany Bank, Moscow, Russia Bertie Ahern, Ireland
exhibitions Wild Geese, The Irish in America, which looks at the art- The Imperial Family, Japan Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Norway Linda and Chris Ferenscik, USA
work of 20 Irish American craftsperson’s and Peatlands. He has been King Carl Gustas, Sweden AIB, Ireland
a board member of the Cultural Relations Committee of Ireland, the President Mitterrand, France Ulster Bank, Ireland
Sculptor’s Society of Ireland, Visual Artists Ireland and the Crafts President Bill Clinton, U.S. Accenture, Ireland
Council of Ireland. O’Dwyer’s work has been featured in Ireland’s Vice President Al Gore, U.S. A. Irish Distillers Limited, Ireland
Treasures, 5000 years of Artistic Expression by Dr. Peter Harbison Mrs. Hilary Weston, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Canada “Student Enterprise Award” Forbairt, Ireland
(Beaux Arts Editions), Destination Art by Amy Dempsey, The Craft of Jean Kennedy-Smith, U.S. A. “Grand Prix Trophy”, Eurovision Song Contest
Silversmithing (Lark Books), 500 Vessels (Lark Books) Teapots, Mak- Sir William Deane, Governor General of Australia Mr. Gordon Lambert, Ireland
ers and Collectors by Donna Meilach (Schiffer Press), The Eyes of Ire- Dr. Charles Hummel, Swiss Ambassador, Ireland Carmel and Martin Naughton, Ireland
land (Liffey Press) and Teapots Transformed by Leslie Ferrin (Guild Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland The Edge (U2), Ireland
Publishing). European Coordination of Film Festivals, Brussels, Belgium Mr. David Kingston, Ireland
Dublin Airport Authority, Ireland
Business to Arts, Ireland
Irish Embassy, Japan
Catalogue forward: Eleanor Flegg
Photography: James Fraher, Kevin O’Dwyer
Design: Oonagh Young, Design HQ

All designs are the copyright of Kevin J. O’Dwyer. No part of this book may be
reproduced in any form by any electronic means, including photocopying, recording,
or information storage and retrieval without the permission of the artist.

Further information on Kevin O’Dwyer can be found at

Catalogue published by Eblana Gallery

Eblana Gallery is a contemporary applied arts gallery located in Dublin’s city centre.
The gallery concentrates on exhibiting the work of artists and jewellers who create
in ceramics, wood, textiles, glass, bronze, silver and gold. Eblana opened in July
2006 with the aim of showcasing new work created by Ireland’s leading contem-
porary applied artists, through regular group and solo exhibitions. We have also
introduced applied artists from Europe and further a-field to the Irish market.
We arrange commissions of work with all of the artists we represent and source
contemporary artwork for those collectors looking for a unique piece.

D A K @ M @

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