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PaperCity May 2024 Dallas

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Irish artist Joseph Walsh marks 25 years of mind-bending furniture design. By Rebecca Sherman By Rebecca Sherman I'd never given much thought to Irish furniture until 10 years ago, when I came across a remarkable wall shelf designed by Joseph Walsh on display at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Made up of thin layers of curved and braided olive ash, the piece formed a graceful arabesque across the wall. I compared the shelf's sweeping elegance to my Irish great-great grandmother's heavy, carved mahogany table, the only piece of furniture she brought with her on the boat to America. Like Walsh, she hailed from County Cork along Ireland's southwest coast, and the idea that Walsh's lyrical shelf design and my ancestor's ponderous table shared the same roots was astounding. But Irish furniture has a long history of idiosyncratic design and beautiful craftsmanship, something that surely made an impact on the self-taught Walsh, who learned from visiting the studios of master makers around Europe. Working from Fartha — his studio in Cork — Walsh sculpts furniture from large blocks of wood, which he strips into thin sheets and manipulates into freeform compositions that evoke natural elements such as vines, seashells, stones, and skeletons. Furniture from his Opus portfolio are largely one-of-a-kind pieces, created for site-specific commissions or exhibitions, such as the 2021 Erosion II Sculptural Cabinet, made from laminated layers of burr and white ash and is designed to resemble geological formations. Lumenoria's translucent hand- cast resin cabinet façade ripples like ice on a frozen pond. Walsh works mainly from private commissions, and one of his most astonishing collaborations is the Enignum VIII bed for the View Room at Chatsworth House, the estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The bed is a masterpiece, with 20-foot- tall upswept posters that rise and curl like a whorl of smoke into the room's vaulted ceiling. Magnus, his monumental outdoor sculptures — or "drawings in air" — can take years to research and design, and once built, they appear to defy gravity. Walsh's solo exhibitions around the world have included a 2022 show at Sotheby's in London, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris acquired his elegant Enignum Free Form Seat and Connemara marble side table last year. You can also see his work in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Two of Walsh's newest monumental bronze Magnus sculptures will be heading to the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris for a show that runs September 15 - October 30. Lumenoria cabinet, 2024, and Enignum II chair Enignum Freeform Seat and Eximon Table, 2018 Fartha, Joseph Walsh's studio in County Cork, Ireland Joseph Walsh 86

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