Review | Dublin Gallery Weekend

This past weekend saw a slightly extended definition of the word, with the Dublin Gallery Weekend taking place from Thursday the 23rd to Sunday the 26th of November. Around 40 art galleries and studios banded together to produce a vast array of events across the city, and I managed to make it to a grand total of two.

The first was the Dublin Art Book Fair at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, an annual event that opened on Thursday night and ended on Sunday. This is currently Dublin’s only book fair, and this year’s theme was architecture. The front room held a vast array of books for sale, along with a number of seminal publications on the subject available for browsing. The room was bustling with people, all happily talking and looking through books on display.

Camino de Santiago | ottoGraphic

The exhibition wasn’t limited to architecture alone, with several displays featuring more traditional artist’s books and zines covering a variety of subjects. One standout artist was Otto Dettmer, for both the interesting construction of his books and the strong use of imagery and colour. Under the name ottoGraphic, he screen prints bold, colourful books from a studio in Bath and exhibits them in book fairs internationally. The Dublin Art Book Fair included ‘Planets’ (2016, edition of 55), a variation on a concertina contained in a sleeve made to look like an album cover, and ‘Camino de Santiago’ (2015, edition of 100). The concertina, also known as a leporello fold, was a form of book often used by travellers, and ‘Camino de Santiago’ embraces this, containing instructions on how and why to walk the famous pilgrimage. Contained in a hardcover, this style of concertina is what I know as a “snake book”; one large sheet with alternating cuts and folds collapsed into a form that can be read normally forwards or backwards, that also folds out into a single sheet to reveal a full image.

Saplings | Ailbhe Barret

Other highlights from the Dublin Art Book Fair included the display from NIVAL, the National Irish Visual Arts Library. NIVAL continue to collect a huge range of contemporary Irish artist’s books that can be viewed at their Thomas Street location in NCAD. Many of the books on display were visually arresting, including Siobhan Piercy’s intricate fold out book of digital prints, ‘All That I Know Folded in Your Boundaries’ (2016). NCAD also had a range of student artist’s books available at a second table, showing a huge variety of experimental work, and I look forward to seeing what these artists produce in the future.

As artist’s books and printmaking are intricately linked mediums, it seemed appropriate that my next stop on the Gallery Weekend should be ‘Another Bite of the Cherry’, a group exhibition of over 50 artists from the Graphic Studio in Dublin and a number of international print studios. The exhibition is showing at the National Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre in Glasnevin until  6th of December and includes uniformly sized work made using a wide range of printmaking methods including intaglio, relief, screen and lithographic printing. The artworks explore the wonderful diversity of the flora at the National Botanic Gardens. ‘Saplings’, an aquatint etching by Ailbhe Barrett, demonstrates beautiful use of tone and colour.

Other standout works include the delicate drypoint print ‘Dendrobium fleckeri’ by Lars Nyberg, the bold screen print ‘Statures’ by Shane O’Driscoll, and ‘Ophelia’s Bouquet’ by Sharon Lee, a fascinating combination of text and image that incorporates lithography, chine-collé and relief printing.

As a printmaker and newcomer to Ireland, it’s encouraging to see such strong work being exhibited, and if these two exhibitions are any indication, it looks like this will continue well into the future.

You can peruse the NIVAL collection by appointment during NCAD term time. 

You can visit the Graphic Print Exhibition until this Wednesday 6th Dec 10am-4.30pm @ Botanical Gardens.

For the Dublin Art Book Fair, sorry- you just have to wait till next year. 

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