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Work of the Week | 27 November 2023

CAG.1488 Mainie Jellett, Carpet Design, undated, watercolour on paper, 23 x 12 cm. Presented, 1993.

This carpet design is by one of the pioneers of modern art in Ireland, Mainie Jellett, and incorporates elements of Cubism and Art Deco, as well as the artist’s understanding of colour.

The design has a clear relationship with Jellett’s paintings in oils and gouache, and is deceptively simple in its arrangement of form and limited palette of blues, greens, and purples.

The artist had been encouraged towards design by fellow Irishwoman Eileen Gray (1878-1976), whom she met in Paris in 1922. Jellett herself was finely attuned towards the consistency of design and questioned, in an early 1930s broadcast, when the Irish government would appropriately ‘consider the artistic organisation and interior decoration of public buildings.’

This small watercolour has been in the Collection since 1993 and, for many years, we have wondered what it would be like to finally translate the design into reality. This led our curator, Anne Boddaert, to work directly with Ceadogán Rugs to realise Jellett’s vision for a new exhibition.

The finished carpet is now on display in FOLLOWING THREADS, which runs until 28 January, alongside a display of materials and a video explaining the making process.

Mainie Jellett (1897-1944) was educated in Dublin, London, and Paris. Together with Evie Hone (1894-1955), she was to set about transforming the modern art landscape in Ireland, introducing and teaching ideas of abstraction and encouraging avant-garde contemporary art. She was a key force in establishing the Irish Exhibition of Living Art (IELA) in 1943.

The Arts House: Conor Tallon chats with curator Michael Waldron about a work from the Collection every Sunday morning on Cork’s 96FM and C103 Cork. You can listen back to this week’s chat here:


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