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Niamh Barry L I G H T S C U L P T U R E

Todd Merrill with essays by

Bella Neyman Jennifer Scanlan

Self published using New York, NY


Copyright © 2017 Todd Merrill All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at the address below. Todd Merrill & Associates, Inc. 80 Lafayette Street New York, NY 10013 Printed in the United States of America Barry, Niamh. Niamh Barry / Todd Merrill. 1. artist — monograph. 2. lighting design. Second Edition. 14 / 1 Book design by Bill Indursky (NYC) Revisions by Joe Klaus


With thanks to Todd Merrill and his team for exhibiting my work, to Seamus O’neill who continues to push at just the right times, to Cahir my senior maker and the team who tirelessly strives for excellence in the work and as always my greatest supporters Killian, Katie and Ella. -Niamh Barry



Acknowledgments................................. 5 Todd Merrill Studio................................ 9

Niamh Barry: An Illuminated Career Bella Neyman......................................... 136

Introduction Todd Merrill.......................................... 10

Dynamic Balance in Niamh Barry’s Light Sculptures Jennifer Scanlan...................................... 138

Work................................................... 13

Curriculum Vitae...................................... 142 7

Todd Merrill Studio For over fifteen years, Todd Merrill Studio has exhibited and purveyed the finest selection of prewar American and European studio and custom furniture. Shortly after Rizzoli published his seminal book on the subject, “Modern Americana: Studio Furniture from High Craft to High Glam”, 2008, Merrill launched Studio Contemporary, representing the work of an international group of established and emerging contemporary artists. Today, their work is sought after by a wide range of art patrons--from collectors and decorators, to curators and museum academics. While each artist uses his or her own chosen media--from textile to porcelain, to marble and LEDs--their joint curation at Studio Contemporary relies upon their shared drive to push those materials to their absolute aesthetic limits. The result: dynamic, handmade, and unique pieces that contribute to today’s increasingly relevant “grey space” between art and design. The gallery has progressively cultivated and established new artists and their repertoires, placing their work into private and public collections which include The Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (New York), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston), The Museum of Art and Design (New

York), The High Museum of Art (Atlanta), and The Brooklyn Museum (New York), amongst others. Currently, Studio Contemporary represents the work of Niamh Barry, Colleen Carlson, Ezra Cohen, Sophie Coryndon, Marc Fish, Stephane Graff, K. Gretchen Greene, Markus Haase, Molly Hatch, John Hersey, Beth Katleman, Karl Springer LTD, Gary Magakis, Knox Martin, Shari Mendelson, Otis & Otis, Gareth Neal, Soraya Osorio, Jake Phipps, John Procario, Yard Sale Project, Chris Rucker, Antonio Pio Saracino, Robert Scott, Erin Sullivan and Clemens Weiss. Throughout the year, the gallery exhibits at the best art and design fairs worldwide, including: Collective Design Fair (New York), Art Miami (Miami), Design Miami (Basel, Miami), FOG: Design + Art (San Francisco), Pavilion of Arts & Design (New York, Paris, London), Masterpiece (London), Gallery Seoul (South Korea), Spring Masters (New York), The International Fine Art and Antiques Dealer Show (New York), Zona MACO (Mexico City), Salon Art + Design (New York) and The Winter Antiques Show (New York).


Introduction By Todd Merrill

“Niamh”, the Irish female name meaning light and radiance, is only too fitting for the artist who sculpts with light and polished metal, whose work literally glows with an aura of defined elegance.

Barry’s work truly defines the 21st century: its design is at once materially driven by today’s technology, while at the same time is hand-made by a studio artist singular in her production of each work.

Before Niamh brought her LED light sculpture to me to show at Art Basel in Switzerland in 2012, the very idea of LED left me cold. The miracle of Niamh’s work is that it incorporates the newest lighting technology into floating metal sculptures that are as warm and precious as glamorous jewelry.

Since she began her series with Fouette, Barry has created numerous hanging sculptures, each expressing her unique vision. As her private and public commissions have become greater and more challenging, she has responded and grown with every new piece at an amazing pace. Niamh never fails to dazzle and never disappoints. Her new work focuses on angles, sharp lines, and vessel shaped reflectors, with every iteration topping that last. Viewers who see one of Barry’s pieces from multiple angles or in a photograph are often shocked to learn how different a single work can be. This ability to create something that changes with every repositioning of its viewer obliges one to move around her work to understand its apparent simplicity. Niamh Barry’s deeply thought out and complex process assures me that there are many facets of her work yet to come.

LED has been made beautiful! Due to the defined line that LED allows her to create in light, Barry’s metal sculpting skills have consequently enhanced to new levels. Playing between highly polished metals surfaces that appear as rose gold, and alternating blackened bronze planes with textured edges, Barry’s forms are warmed by the LED line’s perennial glow, which remain illuminated continuously for decades. The warm alabaster-like glass tiles in which the LEDs are encased give an overall effect of delicacy and airiness, while still asserting her strong artistic statement to which viewers universally respond with accolades.

Todd Merrill


Work 13

Diving Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2017 58 1/4H x 42 1/2W x 71 1/4D Inches




Vessel II and Vessel III Hand raised mirror polished and brushed solid bronze, Hand formed mirror polished solid bronze, Magnets, LED’s 2016 Vessel II 22 1/2H x 18 1/2W x 9D Inches Vessel III 25H x 20 1/2W x 9D Inches




Black Poise Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2016 88 H x 35.5 L x 36.6 D Inches




Tilted Head II Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic,LEDs 2016 76 H x 50 W x 34 D Inches



Unfolded Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2015 137 L x 17.5 H x 28.5 D Inches



Whale Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2015 73.5 L x 36 H x 33.75 D Inches



Walking Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2016 133L x 84H x 40.5D Inches



Flight Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2015 60.5W x 50.75D x 22H Inches



The Sum of One and Two Mirror-polished stainless steel, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2015 51.5H x 27W x 26D Inches



The Sum of One and Two II Mirror-polished stainless steel, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2015 49H x 47W x 44D Inches



Counterpoise Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 73.75H x 78.75H x 54.5D Inches




Knotted Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2015 11H x 21W x 10D Inches



Gesture Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 40.5H x 43W x 25D Inches



His Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 32H x 43W x 31.75D Inches



Tilted Head Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 74.75H x 27.5W x 27.5D Inches



Binary Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 43.25H x 27.5W x 27.5D Inches



Binary III Mirror-polished and scored patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 50H x 25.5W x 27.5 Inches



Shoulder Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 59H x 22.75W x 19.75D Inches



Apparent Magnitude Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2013 80.75H x 52.5W x 19.75 Inches


Apparent Magnitude II Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2014 98.25 H x 24.75 W x 35.5 D Inches



Falling Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2013 42H x 25.5W x 21D Inches


Apoapsis Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2013 53.25 H x 29.5W x 41.75D Inches



Fouette Wall Sconce Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2013 39H x 8W x 9.75D Inches


Fouette II Brushed bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2013 92.5H x 19W x 8D Inches



Penumbra Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 2013 53.5 H x 48W x 37.75 D Inches



Monumental Light Installations

Through CAD files, floor-plans, photographs, and site visits, Barry takes into consideration every aspect of the space in which her work will be exhibited. The following works are examples of how her light sculptures may be custom commissioned on a monumental scale, from 10 – 30 feet, for any interior setting and with customizable materials and finishes.


Central Bank Installation Mirror-polished and patinated bronze, LEDs Shown in maquette and In-situ 2016 - 2017 30’ L x 1.7’ D x 6.5’ H Feet




Monumental Counterpoise Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 10 - 30 feet, customizable




Monumental Tilted Head Mirror-polished bronze, opal glass mosaic, LEDs 10 - 30 feet, customizable




Niamh Barry: An Illuminated Career By Bella Nayman

Having achieved success as a lighting designer, Niamh Barry desired to elevate her work beyond the conventional realm. This aesthetic urge allowed her to create her first LED-powered sculptural light Chain in 2004, followed by Loop in 2006. Yet it is hard to imagine that Barry, a light sculptor who has now found great success primarily by working with solid bronze, spent her formative years studying ceramics at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, Ireland During her time at the NCAD from 1986-1991, Barry was required to learn how to work with materials other than ceramics, namely glass and metal, which broadened her vocabulary and honed her hand and eye. Upon graduation, a project designing a generously upholstered velvet sofa with a welded steel frame propelled the artist to teach herself how to weld so that every aspect of this design could be under her control. This drive, attention to

detail, and absolute mastery is what has defined Barry’s career. For Barry, metal is a much more suitable material to work with because it allows her to “express ideas swiftly”. A self-proclaimed problem-solver, Barry likes to see her ideas and sketches come to fruition quickly, and metal lends itself to this. The artist can shape the metal and see the form immediately. In time Barry found herself working as an art director in the television and film industry building stage sets. There, she consistently worked with lighting and became conscious of its vital role in creating an atmospheric environment. Not long after this revelation Barry decided to focus her efforts solely on lighting design. In 1996, the artist started her own firm and developed a small collection of table lamps which had timber bases with hand-screen printed silk shades that she successfully sold in Ireland. For the next fifteen years, Barry was pulled

deeper into the world of bespoke lighting and placed her work in numerous commercial and residential projects throughout Europe. Barry left the commercial world behind and began to solely focus her efforts on unique light sculptures. Since 2011, with the introduction of the Fouette, Barry has continued to design hand-formed bronze light sculptures whose elegant contours stem from her imagination and are inspired by two consistent themes: “visual weight and movement�. Bella Nayman


Dynamic Balance in Niamh Barry’s Light Sculptures By Jennifer Scanlan

To sculpt is to consider the presence of forms in space, their positive and negative masses. To sculpt with light adds an entirely new set of elements--illumination, shadow, and reflection—that affect not only the sculpture, but also the environment around it. Niamh Barry’s light sculptures set all of these elements in counterpoise, positive and negative, light and darkness, to create what she calls a “beautiful balance.” This is not the sort of steady balance of the static object, symmetrical, nor self-contained. Rather, what is known in physics as dynamic balance: balance that is achieved when an object is in motion. The sculptures begin as sketches, as she explores ideas in abstract form. These ideas can range from astronomical phenomena of objects orbiting in space to the simple study of shapes. Running through all these are themes of motion and connection, for astral bodies or human bodies. Within the pieces, motion is created by lines of light, which carry the eyes around the piece and bounce off the reflective surfaces; the connection is reinforced by interlocking structures. In this way, though Barry’s works remain physically stationary, they evoke motion in their design, and in the way they shift and change in relation

to the viewer, taking the viewer on what she calls a “visual journey.” Barry’s most extensive body of work to date consists of linked loops. These are the most visually connected to the original sketches. The asymmetry and irregularity of the individual shapes gives them the immediacy of gesture and the warmth of human presence. “The quality of line is really important, keeping it fluid and organic,” Barry says. She searches for what she calls “a grace to the line.” Though part of the same body of work, each piece has its own energy. Some, like Tilted Head or Shoulder, are directly related to the body. Roughly the same dimensions as a person, they occupy the room like another human presence, making abstract references to statues. Others, like Falling and Binary, are more compact, the motion more tightly confined. Whatever impression a piece gives from one angle may transform as the viewer moves around it: the loops seem to be dense from one perspective, and dissolve in another. The observer’s motion becomes an essential component of the viewing experience.

In sculptures such as Gesture and His, Barry has changed her visual vocabulary, moving away from soft curves to explore the vitality and dynamism of angles and straight lines. Barry has retained the balance of the loop pieces, counterpointing asymmetrical shapes to create movement. While the looped sculptures give the sense of serene flow, however, the angled pieces are more rhythmic, actively engaging the architectural space. Gesture, wall mounted, juts out from the wall plane, seemingly propelled by reflected light. Of Gesture, Barry says, “In contrast to the other pieces, it’s more demanding.” Barry’s most recent sculpture, Counterpoise, expands beyond lines to include vessel forms that curve into each other, adding visual weight. Diffusion panels cast light into the vessels, which is then reflected out into the environment. The vessel’s interiors are brushed bronze, to give what Barry calls “the softest possible glow of light.” The softness of the light complements a more subdued sense of movement, a more deliberate grace. Barry’s process combines an instinctive approach to form with highly accomplished technical skill. Once Barry

has developed the forms graphically from her original abstract sketches, she begins to work with a small-scale three-dimensional model. She physically manipulates the form, examining it from all angles. She carefully considers the ways in which not only the form, but also the light, reflection, and shadow will change as the viewer moves around the sculpture. Barry notes, “I might work continuously for days changing the shapes and curves.” At this point, Barry starts the technical work, producing drawings that establish the cutting patterns for the bronze and glass elements that make up the final work. Construction for each piece—cutting, welding, and assembling— is done by hand. The craftsmanship involved guarantees precision and perfection in the structure. The bronze pieces are hand-finished, in some cases scored for texture and in others polished to a reflective finish. The glass is also hand-polished. The resulting surfaces have the rich glow that can only be imparted by human touch. This glow is an essential component of Barry’s concept. The materials she uses are meant to generate visual warmth, to illuminate a space with beauty. Bronze can


be a difficult material to cut, but has a rich orange-gold hue that Barry particularly prizes for its reflective qualities. The sculptures are lit by warm white LED lights for an even, soft tone that is filtered through opal glass, giving it a slight shimmer. This particular effect, more vibrant and at the same time more gentle than most LED lighting commercially available, was achieved after countless hours of research.

tained energy, like the fouette turn in ballet for which one of the pieces is named. As lighting, the works make use of this energy to activate the space that they inhabit and the objects they touch. The intersections in the sculpture are recreated in the connections between people who share its light. From planets orbiting in outer space, to humans interacting around a dining table, Barry’s light sculptures manifest the forces that link us all.

Barry thus considers not only the way that the lighting creates line and form, but also its effect on the space it inhabits, and the people who surround it. “If people are sitting under a piece, it is important that they look good, that the light has a physical effect on them,” she says. In this way, she designs not only a sculpture, but also an atmosphere. The light touches and transforms the objects around it.

Jennifer Scanlan

The dynamic balance achieved by Niamh Barry’s pieces makes them visually engaging, in a way that combines and enhances their roles as sculpture and as lighting. Working with line and form, shadow and light, reflection and refraction, she gives the sculptures an elegantly con-


Curriculum Vitae

B. Dublin IE 1968 Lives and works in Dublin IRE

Selected Exhibitions

2014 Post War & Contemporary Design, Themes & Variations, London UK Collective.2 Design Fair, New York NY, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary FOG Design + Art, San Francisco CA, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary 2013 Art Miami, Miami FL, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary International Fine Art & Antiques Dealers Show, New York NY, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary Art Southampton, Southampton NY, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary

Studio Contemporary Post War & Contemporary Design, Themes & Variations, London Collective.1 Design Fair, New York NY, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary Zona Maco Mexico Art Contemporaneo, Mexico City MX, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary 2012 International Fine Art and Antique Dealer’s Show, New York NY, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary Post War & Contemporary Design, Themes & Variations, London Design Miami/Basel, Switzerland, Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary 2011 Origin London Design Festival, London UK, Lux Craft Lighting Pavilion 2007 Plan Expo, Dublin IRE, Exhibitor

2006 Looped, Drops, Linked, Plan Expo, Dublin, IRE, Exhibitor 100% Design, London, Exhibitor 2005 Plan Expo, Dublin IRE, Exhibitor 2004 Plan Expo, Dublin IRE, Exhibitor 2003 Group Show, Haus, Dublin IE Group Show, Minima, Dublin IE Group Show, Design Yard Gallery, Dublin, IRE Group Show, Crafts Council of Ireland Gallery, Dublin, IRE, Exhibitor 2002 Group Show, Crafts Council of Ireland Gallery, Dublin, IRE, Exhibitor 2001 Group Show, Crafts Council of Ireland Gallery, Dublin IE, Exhibitor Group Show, Red on Green Gallery, Dublin IE

Selected Press

Harris, Gareth: “Collective.1: A Redesign for Manhattan”, Financial Times (online), May 6, 2013 Chislett, Helen: “Drop-down Gorgeous”, How to Spend It, Financial Times (online), April 19, 2012 “Superior Interiors”, Financial Times, April 2012 Davies, Sian; Bellini, Luciana; Cheung, Arnaud; and Atkins, Rob: “Lettings: Light Fantastic”, Domus Nova, Spring 2012 “Star Performance”, Mondo Arc, Issue 63, October/November 2011 “Antennae Round Up”, World of Interiors, October 2010 “Let There Be Light”, Hotel+Catering, Spring 2008 “Bottled Lightning”, Image Magazine, November 2007 Fitzgerald, Alexander: “Dublin Designer’s Eclectic


Delights: Interiors”, The Daily Business Post, September 9. O’Keeffe, Antonia: “Designer’s Touch: The Stunning Work of Niamh Barry”, Total Lighting, Issue 34, July/August 2007 O’Sullivan, Mary: “The Lightest of Touches”, Irish Independent, August 3, 2008 “Lights of Fancy”, The Irish Times Magazine, February 10, 2007, pg.75-77. The Sunday Times, Ireland Home, Design Section, November 12, 2006 “Irish Style”, Select Magazine, Winter 2006 “Light to the World”, Irish Independent, October 26, 2005 Flegg, Eleanor: “Let There Be Light”, Irish Arts Review, Design Portfolio, Winter 2005, pg.164. “Legends in their Lunchtime”, dSIDE, July 1997

Education 1991 National College of Art & Design, Dublin IE BA (Honors) Degree in Ceramic


Niamh Barry  

Irish lighting artist Niamh Barry sculpts with light creating floating masterpieces.

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