GLASS LIVES INTERVIEW: The National College of Art and Design

Dr Caroline Madden. Lecturer in the School of Fine Art in conversation with North Lands Creative Director Karen Phillips.

PROJECT partner 


1. Please tell us about your organization and what is your main focus in the ISGNE project?

The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) is an independent Art College comprising four faculties, Fine Art, Design, Education and Visual Culture. The NCAD offers BA, MA, and PhD programmes. The Art and Design curriculum predominantly engages a constructivist, experiential model of pedagogy, within studio and “real world” learning environments. NCAD selectively collaborates with external educational, public, private, state and international partners. The NCAD glass programme is student-centred and has been greatly enriched through collaborations with; Creative Europe: ISGNE; Erasmus; Fulbright; Southern Illinois University; Corning Museum of Glass; Pilchuck School of Glass; Pittsburgh Glass Center and Bildwerks in Germany. 

The main focus in the ISGNE project is the evolving of rich collaborative multivalent contexts towards informing pedagogy, discourse and professional practice(s).

2. What is your role on the project?

Creative Europe ISGNE: NCAD Project Director.

3. Why were you interested in being involved in the ISGNE project?

Collaboration is a professional core value. The Creative Europe ISGNE project provides partnership opportunities to become involved in creating and redefining relationships and opportunities both locally and internationally.

4. What have you been looking at through ISGNE so far?

We have been looking at potentials for transnational mobility, audience development and sustainable studio practices. ISGNE enabled NCAD to undertake a dynamic schedule of cultural events, workshops and the creation of publications, in an exploration of glass within

critical contexts of intangible cultures, design, visual and applied arts. 

NCAD presented the 2019 Ireland Glass Biennale (IGB) and symposium, Critical Practices: Making, Writing, Curating, Educating, which brought together international artists, designer-makers, curators, researchers, students and cultural workers. Venues of significant cultural heritage including the Dublin Castle Coach House and the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History in the heart of Dublin co-hosted events, contributing greatly to increased audience diversity and attendance (7000 visitors). Digital publications of the IGB materials garnered a virtual audience of over 9000 readers and 4000 collectors.

5. One of the goals of ISGNE is to use glass to approach certain issues in the project partners’ local communities. Can you share any examples about an artist making an influence on a community?

Glass artists Roisin Moore and Emer O’Donnell facilitated four secondary school workshops and talks. These workshops provided students with exposure to experiential pedagogical methods of glass, lampworking, slumping, painting, engraving, copper foiling and design. The workshop objective was to enable students to acquire an understanding of glass materiality and glass art and design intangible cultures. Secondary school students located within a twenty mile radius of Dublin were invited to participate. One hundred and five secondary school students participated in the workshops along with four secondary school art teachers.

6. Co-operation is a fundamental aspect of this initiative. Who are you collaborating with and how did this partnership come about?

NCAD is collaborating with North Lands Creative UK, Berlin Glas Germany, Ltd. Stikla Maja Latvia.

The partnership came about by invitation of North Lands Creative, Director Karen Phillips. The 2019 IGB was enabled through partnerships with the Dublin Castle Coach House and the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History. Kit Paulson's artists workshop was co-funded by Applied Arts Ireland: Northern Ireland.

NCAD Visiting Artists Workshop _ Silvia Levenson

7. What are the benefits of securing the Creative Europe funding?

The benefits of securing the Creative Europe funding are to work collaboratively and demonstrate innovation and high standards within the partnership in order to protect the intangible culture of glass making and to increase the visibility of glass art to new audiences internationally whilst contributing to the social, economic and ecological sustainability and success of the glass sector.

8. How can artists or organisations be involved in your activities on the ISGNE project? What’s coming up?

Artists can apply to participate in the 2021 Ireland Glass Biennale (IGB) and symposium. A schedule of cultural events and workshops with published dates TBD as CoVID restrictions permit. Information will be located at and

9. How important is it to you to be making work internationally and with other European organisations and artists?

Working internationally with European organisations and artists is essential in generating research narratives beyond hegemonic discourses of art, design and internationalism. It promotes a community within communities; informing and exchanging values and rich

invaluable experiences of intangible cultural glass histories.

10. You communicate with artists and studios in other European countries. What is the prevailing mood currently?

The prevailing mood is one of resilience, camaraderie and problem-solving as a means to continue to develop the field of glass within the contexts of education, environmental concerns and opportunities for creating and sustaining professional livelihood(s).

NCAD 2019 Ireland Glass Biennale. Hanne Enemark _ Louis Thompson. Temptation. Ester Segarra

11. How are organisations and artists adapting to the new situation?

Organisations and artists adapting to the new situation through expanding the potentials of collaboration(s) and use of shared resources, information and technology.

12. The contemporary glass world is built on mobility: artists and their projects are not subjected to national borders, they travel and work in different countries, and their works are exhibited globally. How do you think the international glass scene will change after this crisis?

The contemporary studio glass movement of the sixties was initiated as a reaction to the perceived crisis of losing human autonomy through the industrial revolution. The innate nature of creative individuals is understood to be one of problem solving; as such I believe individuals and collaborators will continue to develop and adapt to change.

13. Would you agree that lockdowns have shown us the wider importance of culture: networks, communities and projects help people survive this hard period? What will the new normal look like for your organisation?

Yes I believe it has highlighted the importance of all humans and how the existence of each person creates and shapes cultures and communities. The new normal has halved direct contact teaching provisions, reduced student-group sizes and reduced opportunities to explore specific aspects of glass-forming methodologies. Additionally, there are more online teaching and communication provisions.

14. What are your ambitions for the ISGNE project? What’s next?

To continue to pursue the creation of learning experiences and opportunities with others in provision of rich cultural experiences of interchange and development. Currently, involved in national and international academic partnerships engaging the exploration and evolution of contemporary glass and ceramic discourse(s) as they relate to materiality semiotic markers.

NCAD 2019 Ireland Glass Biennale. Kevin Killen_LUX_Brendan Bell and Luca Piffaretti

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