Irish design is represented for the first time at the V&A during London Design Festival in an ambitious Landmark Project The Ogham Wall. Created by Grafton Architects, the installation was inspired by the Irish Ogham alphabet, dating from approximately the 4th century A.D. The imposing forms of The Ogham Wall will fill the V&A’s Tapestry Gallery as one of a series of international events from Irish Design 2015.
The installation is monumental in scale, consisting of 23 concrete fins stretching to a height of three metres, standing in the atmospheric surroundings of the V&A Tapestry Gallery. Each cluster of fins relates to a letter in the Ogham alphabet and each letter symbolises a native Irish tree. The impact creates a multi-layered immersive experience that invites visitors to engages with the tactile surfaces, which vary in texture, temperature and colour.
“The fusion of contemporary design thinking with innovative process in the realisation of this landmark project communicates the essence of Irish Design 2015. The Ogham Wall reflects Ireland’s ability to eave story telling and language with ancient heritage in the creation of a compelling piece of work that has innovation and collaboration at the heart of its developmental process. We are delighted to have supported world renowned Grafton Architects who collaborated with Graphic Relief on this significant and considered installation and to be presenting it in partnership with LDF at the prestigious V&A museum,” explains Karen Hennessy, Chief Executive of Irish Design 2015 (ID2015).”
The Tapestry Gallery is the ideal setting for the Ogham Wall. In contrast to the still and quiet atmosphere created by the backdrop of the fine tapestries, the Wall forms a dramatic and imposing installation that is robust and rough, configured as a path for visitors to move between, with the placement of the fins encouraging views of the tapestries from various angles.
Each of the 23 fins is unique and cast using a combination of an old-school artisan approach combined with digital moulding technology developed by Graphic Relief. The fins are constructed from a variety of concrete mixes containing various metals that reflect the patterns inspired by various tree bark textures. The project has been sponsored by Techrete Ireland Ltd.
‘Presenting an installation at the internationally renowned V&A is an incredible opportunity and honour for our company. In developing plans for The Ogham Wall, we wanted to design something that would be visually striking but would also encourage engagement and interaction. Concrete is often considered a ‘poor’ material in the built environment. However, Graphic Relief has developed a very sophisticated mould and mixture of metallics to bring the ancient and modern together, creating beautiful and rich columns that we have placed in an almost rhythmic manner. This exploratory collaboration has allowed us to look at the use of concrete and digital processes as we have not done previously and may inform our future projects,’ says Shelley McNamara, Director, Grafton Architects.
The Ogham Wall will be on public display in the V&A from 19-27 September 2015.