2018 Festival

The Ceramics Ireland International Festival 7th – 9th September 2018 

Grennan Mill, Thomastown, Kilkenny

Featuring Demonstrations and slide presentations from Isobel Egan – Ireland, Susan O’Byrne – Ireland / UK and Nan Smith and Ben Carter – USA and Chris Weaver – New Zealand.

The Lecture Programme will include Nuala Creed – Ireland / USA, Darien Johnson – USA, more to be announced.


Isobel Egan – Ireland 

Isobel Egan

While I have always been inspired by architecture and its multi-dimensional portrayal of form, the inspiration for my work is in fact multifaceted and includes architecture, space, memory and emotion. I work exclusively with porcelain as the intrinsic characteristics of the material, its translucence and delicate paper-like quality enable me to fully realise my concepts.

My work represents a relationship with space and how it shapes us, both physically and emotionally. It also investigates the interrelationships between us and the buildings we inhabit. The structures I make connect these ideas and in doing so, they reflect on the human condition. I aim to pique the viewer’s curiosity, inviting them to look beyond the surface where they may discover intimate spaces that are, at first glance, hidden from view. The fundamental basis of my work is drawn from my life journey; ultimately it encompasses my personal interactions, experiences and observations.


Susan O’Byrne – Ireland /UK

Susan O’Byrne

The animal as metaphor occupies an extraordinary role in the imagination, and has colourfully populated myth, children’s stories and cultural tradition throughout history. Sharing our emotion but not our reason, the animal can be used as a vehicle to distil, reflect and embody aspects of our own humanity. Susan specialises in the making of narrative animal forms and has developed a unique set of making processes which aim to articulate human sensitivity.

The techniques she now utilises in her ceramic process combine a childhood obsession with making in papier-mâché and a continuing interest in domestic craft, line drawing, print and collage. Larger works begin with a high-temperature wire armature. This becomes a three-dimensional line drawing onto which sheets of thinly cast paper clay are applied to create a form, before the surface is collaged with a veneer of highly detailed printed paper porcelain. Most recent work has seen a development of the surface pattern to reference historic domestic needlepoint. This has involved the designing and production of laser-cut stencils that are used to create intricate, lace like patterns on the surface of the animal body.

Nan Smith – USA

Breathing Life into the Sculpted Human Head

Nan Smith

What causes presence in the sculpted human form? Critical of sculptors of his time Michelangelo said many wasted the marble they carved. Rodin made sure the viewers knew his sculptures were not life casts. Each created resonant sculptures that projected energy as well as anatomical correctness.

Nan Smith will demonstrate how she sculpts the human head while discussing what she believes causes resonance and life in a figure sculpture. Nan will demonstrate how to create perceptual tools through mold-making to aid in the creation of a sculpted head. She will begin with life casting using plaster and alginate to create 3 dimensional models. The demonstration will continue with armature construction, and sculpting through solid building techniques. Rendering an expressive and anatomically believable human form, creating likeness, personality and expression will be discussed. Areas that are often forgotten in realizing a highly articulated human form will be disclosed during her demonstration.

Ben Carter – USA

Ben Carter

My research focuses heavily on Silk Road traditions where Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures where influenced by Chinese porcelain that was being traded throughout the region from 900 AD onward. These pots have a playful energy that comes from copying objects that represent wealth and status. As a kid, I saw old fabric go through a similar process as it was repurposed into vibrant quilts that were both practical and highly decorative.

By blending floral motifs used in Appalachian quilting with the decorative language of historical ceramics, I work to create new hybrid patterns that enliven the surfaces of teapots, pitchers, and dinnerware. The forms are made from a rich terra cotta clay, which is covered in white slip before being carved and decorated with translucent glazes. Much like the Silk Road potters I attempt to elevate the status of my earthenware, giving it value through multiple layers of intense decoration.

Chris Weaver – New Zealand

Chris Weaver


For a glimpse of what you have to look forward to, have a look at this video from our 2014 festival:

Ceramics Ireland Festival 2014 Promo from CeramicsIreland.


Accommodation list Download here


Members €195 


Non Members €255 


Student members €145 


Student non members €175 


PAYMENT PLAN – 3 Instalments – final payment due by August 10th

Members €195 – €65 x 3 


Non Members €255 – €85 x 3 


Student members €145 – €48.33 x 3 


Student non members €175 – €58.33 x 3