National Museum to Honour Irish Artist Niamh Barry

Dublin artist Niamh Barry will have her work presented from December 2018 through to the duration of 2019 at the National Museum of Ireland in new exhibition Light on Earth.

Barry creates unique light sculptures predominantly in bronze. She is an innovator in using LED technology in her art, widely recognised as one of the first, if not the first, adopter of this technique globally.

The artist’s signature works are included in many prestigious public and private collections internationally. Most recently she completed a monumental light sculpture in the headquarters of the Central Bank of Ireland and she will also be donating one of the works from her exhibition to the National Museum of Ireland on a permanent basis.

The exhibition Niamh Barry Light on Earth will feature six signature pieces by Niamh made over the last 10 years. Included too are a range of engaging supporting materials detailing the creative journey from initial sketches to finished pieces. 

Between 2009 and 2010 she made Fouette, her first bronze, curvilinear, edge-lit piece. This prototype, composed of a mild, steel, frame, clad in bronze with handmade glass mosaic, was a ‘breakaway piece’ in this art form. Five elliptical connections take the appearance of the ballet position from which the piece derives its name in her original ‘edge lit’ creation. As well as being part of the exhibition, Barry has also donated the piece to be part of the museum’s permanent collection.

In addition to Fouette, the exhibition also includes En Pointe II, an avant garde table with sleek angular lines; Model of a Staircase, a model of a unique large-scale piece measuring 8.5m commissioned for a private house in central Paris; the Model of Vessel Scape, the monumental sculpture she was commissioned to create for the new Central Bank of Ireland; Walking, a series of preliminary sketches and bronze maquettes, which ultimately led to her first freestanding sculpture; Gesture II, a mirror polished hand formed solid bronze opal glass mosaic with LEDS; Vessel II, a voluptuous light sculpture with LEDs; and Propulsion, a large, bronze LED light sculpture specifically commissioned for the exhibition.

Barry specialised in ceramics in the National College of Art and Design (NCAD) before transitioning to metalwork and glass soon after graduating, teaching herself welding. During this time, she also  became involved in art direction and the television industry, earning credits on acclaimed films including the Brendan Gleeson starring comedy I Went Down, as well as Frankie Starlight and Snakes and Ladders.

Following this, Barry worked for more than a decade making custom designs for commercial installations in hotels and restaurants, including the Shelbourne and the Merrion Hotels in Ireland. She also had a brief detour into conceptual furniture.

In 2011, she was one of eight international artists selected to showcase lighting designs at Luxcraft, the prestigious London design festival. Since then, her workspace has grown from a solo operation in a 20’ shipping container to a team of nine today, in a purpose built 3,000 sq. ft studio in Lusk in Dublin. Each sculpture takes Barry hundreds of hours to make.

She is currently represented in galleries across the world including New York and London. Her client list includes various top interior designers and architects including Peter Marino, Nate Berkus, Miles Redd, David Easton and Kelly Hoppen and she has been profiled in many publications including Financial Times, How to Spend It, Architectural Digest, Galerie Magazine and Modern Magazine.

Speaking about her art, Barry says she “creates work viscerally, to be seen with your eyes but to be experienced emotionally.” National Museum of Ireland attendees can do just that from November 30 onwards.

For more on Barry, visit her site. Meanwhile, for a sneak peak of her work that will be showcased in Light on Earth, see here.

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