Set in the historical building which is Collins’ Barracks, woodturner Emmet Kane is currently exhibiting his life’s work from the last 25 years, 1988 to the present day. He is a fascinating self taught woodturner who comes from a long line of building contractors. Originally from Kildare, Kane has exhibited in Ireland and USA and is now showing his lifetime achievements in Ireland. The exhibition was curated by Jennifer Goff who also curated Eileen Gray: Her Work and Her World and is a fantastic example of an artist’s lifetime shown in chronological order.
Speaking to Jennifer Goff, she mentioned that working with Emmet was simple. He had his fantastic art and it just need to be shown in the correct manner. Jennifer first came into contact with the artist’s work at a show in Chicago.
Viewing the exhibition you can see Emmet’s change in style. In his early work we see more simple forms like bowls and small vessels. We then see the introduction of more unique forms: the spikes, colour and more recently the circular shapes. Most recently Emmet designed a piece in remembrance of Patrick Scott, “P.S 2014” and also a piece to remember Eileen Gray. All of these pieces are involved in the exhibition.
On speaking to Kane he told me about using lacquer as Eileen Gray would have used a lot of lacquer in her day. He said he wanted to do it the way she would have and not cheat by using the spray variety. He said that it took him 40 coats to acquire the desired effect and a lot of free time, but the end result is incomparable to anything else he has done. His hard work creates a deep shiny colour which gives a rich effect.
One of the greatest pieces from the exhibition was “Crock of Gold” which was made in 2011 which is actually warped Ebonised burr oak with 23c gold leaf paint in the centre. The wood was slightly damp which carved given the beautiful wavy effect that we see on the piece. Kane enjoys to modify the wood but also often chooses to enhance the natural look. He also uses bleach to warp its colour and gold leaf or pearlescent paint to add colour and an alternative depth to the pieces.
Kane’s work isn’t a style of woodturning that you come across regularly and is certainly a chronology of work that will intrigue, inspire and will show you another side to wood that you will have never seen before.