Whether working in busy urban studios or quiet countryside spaces, there’s no denying that makers and creators remain an integral part of Ireland’s culture and workforce. From painted canvas and chiseled stone to woven tapestries and hand-sewn clothing, the art of the handmade item is alive and well.
In fact, General Paints Group is telling the story of what it means to craft and create in Ireland in the only way it knows how: through color.
The company’s new Curator collection features 144 unique paint colors developed and sourced from artists who focus their creative endeavors in Ireland. The palette presents everything from neutral hues that speak to the quiet woodlands of West Cork to bolder shades that evoke the country’s strength and spunk.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to make a collection that was authentic, special and genuine,” says Rachel O’Connor, expert director for General Paints Group and one of the developers of the Curator brand. “[The artists] all had colors that really meant something to them and inspired their work. And for a lot of their work, their muse was Ireland and our lovely landscape.”
O’Connor, who is also heading up Curator’s U.S. presence, says that develop-ing and sourcing the palette was a nearly ﬁve-year journey. After extensive searching, the team worked with 29 Irish designers and artisans to discover the history and heritage behind the colors that inspired them. Although the concept of the palette changed along the way, O’Connor says the goal of capturing “the passion they bring into their work” remained a driving force
O’Connor, who is part of the third generation of General Paints Group’s 65-year history, also points to her company’s own entrepreneurial spirit as part of the collection’s inspiration.
“We’ve always had an admiration for artists and craftspeople. Many are solo entrepreneurs who are doing what they love. We worked with a broad range of artists — potters, millers, sculptors — and although they’re all different, they had one thing in common, and that was color,” she says.
O’Connor speaks fondly of the stories within the pigment and describes some of the bolder colors in the palette. There’s Ancient Black, inspired from the creations of sculptor Ronnie Graham. O’Connor describes the lore of this deep, moody color as “haunting and mystical.”
“[Ronnie] works with what’s called buried oak — it’s oak that’s been buried in a bog for thousands and thousands of years. During the preservation process it turns a beautiful charcoal color,” O’Connor says. “Ronnie believes it emits a mystical power — and he tries to capture that in his sculptures. Interestingly, it’s been one of the most popular colors in our market.”
The Curator collection was intentionally designed to easily discover and combine complementary shades. Here, Ancient Black is paired with Kerr’s Pink and Rose Mantel.
O’Connor also suggests the colors can be used seasonally — such as on flower boxes and planters, furniture or even doors; she describes charming Irish neighborhoods with bright pink, turquoise and other colors adorning the front doors of homes. “But we don’t like to be too prescriptive. There’s no such thing as a wrong color combination,” she adds.
Even the palette’s more traditional hues have a story that is anything but. Horseshoe, for example, is a stone-gray shade, aptly named for Horseshoe Mountain in County Sligo, Ireland, that inspires pottery artist John Ryan.
O’Connor’s personal favorite paint is also bright and bold: Running Tides, a bril-liant aquamarine unique to the seascape paintings of Irish artist Carol Cronin, who has captured the Atlantic Ocean on canvas for decades. (“You might think you could get bored of painting waves, but [her works] are stunning,” O’Connor says.) These brighter, livelier shades off er the “pop of color” that O’Connor sees throughout the commercial interior design market.
“People are starting to be less afraid of taking risks with pops of color. We’re seeing a lot of restaurants, hotels and public spaces take bolder risks. We think it’s a great trend,” she says.
The collection boasts shades like Pulled Rhubarb, Tailored Tweed and Dried Kelp (painted on chairs left to right) that ad richness and depth to ordinary spaces.
“[Ryan] is immersed in the landscape surrounding his workshop, and it inspires these stunning creations,” O’Connor says of the potter’s handmade ceramics. “The color really shines through in his work.”
The collection made its U.S. debut ear-lier this spring in Connecticut and arrives on the West Coast in the fall, including southern California, Portland, Oregon; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Seattle.
Ultimately, the collection aims to not only honor these artists, but to inspire others to use color to express creativity and passion, says O’Connor. And in a way, that allows the consumer to play curator and tell their own story.
“The collection [is a] showcase of Irish craft and talent, but it goes beyond that,” O’Connor explains. “I think home is deeply personal to people. You want it to reﬂect your identity and personal style. When you bring a color into your home, you’re looking for more than just paint. In our collection, every color has a meaning and personality. [It’s] allowing the customers to be their own curator.”
All photos and featured photo courtesy of General Paints Group / Curator.
Serving as the go-to destination for both first-timers and experienced art collectors, Martin Lawrence Galleries feature original and unique works from masters including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Pablo Picasso.
Liudmila Kondakova’s “La Maison Rose”
The galleries began presenting the work of 20th- and 21st-century artists in 1975, and since have expanded their influence to nine locations. From New York and California to Hawaii and Louisiana, MLG have become the anchor for superior fine art throughout the United States.
In addition to the work of historic and iconic artists, the galleries introduce the work of modern, published artists including Vik Muniz, Liudmila Kondakova and Francois Fressinier.
The galleries have lent and exhibited over 200 masterworks by more than 30 different artists, however each artist displays a unique style, which can be seen through their creations.
Speaking to the Art
Born in Cognac, France in 1968 to scholarly portrait photographer parents, it was fitting that François Fressinier would develop a unique, enchanting style. Early exposure to some of the world’s most historic places, such as France’s Gallo-Roman ruins and Gothic churches, inclined Fressinier to explore and create figurative, symbolic artwork. While the modern figurative artist does a little sketching, he often lets his paintings speak to him. Alone in his studio, Fressinier often watches as his artwork appears progressively and without force.
François Fressinier’s “Over The Surface”
Liudmila Kondakova’s “Red Umbrella”
Drawing Inspiration from the Past
Rich with clarity and light, Liudmila Kondakova displays an individual sense of artistic and spiritual well-being in her masterpieces. Her meticulous attention to detail allows viewers to become intimately involved in the life of her paintings. Since her childhood in Russia, Kondakova has been fascinated by traditional art, by a sense of spirituality that transcends common existence. Her painting technique is that employed by medieval egg-tempera painters. Her palette — influenced by the icon painters of Byzantium and Russia — is both vibrant and beautiful, with colors that blend in a subtle, poetic balance. Original paintings and limited edition prints by Kondakova have an honored place in private collections around the world.
Recreating Well-Known Masterpieces
Creator and innovator Vik Muniz is a multi-talented artist who is best known for recreating well-known masterpieces using 3-D materials. Inspired by famous imagery from art history and pop culture, Muniz uses unexpected, everyday objects to create his compositions. He then photographs his work to preserve an exact look. Centering on visual literacy and the nature of visual cognition, the Brazilian artist and photographer often creates bold, ironic and deceiving images. Works sold at the Martin Lawrence Galleries include limited edition photographs of Muniz’s projects.
Vik Muniz’s “Grey Marilyn (Pictures of Diamond Dust)”
Residential developments are increasingly incorporating oversized art, and it’s bigger and better than ever.
These powerful and room-defining pieces each have a huge impact on the spaces they inhabit, drawing the eye in new directions. Here are four examples of NYC luxury developments spearheading this trend in a major way, commissioning local artists to create unique, oversized artwork.
525 West 52nd Street
Upon walking through the grand, double-height entrance, residents pass under Rachel Mica Weiss’ “Inverted Arches.” Commissioned by Art Assets, the 20-foot entrance piece made of nylon rope creates striking silhouettes and intricate, dramatic shadows that change throughout the day. Rachel’s use of industrial materials and hand-crafted techniques seamlessly integrate art and architecture, while simultaneously highlighting the history of the industrial neighborhood and reflecting the daily lives of residents.
Photo courtesy of Danielle Gottesman
This lobby was designed with a stunning double-height, floor-to-ceiling glass art installation that was inspired by the building’s neighbor, MoMa PS1. The Long Island City condominium’s developer commissioned artist Tom Fruin to curate a one-of-a-kind mosaic glass-art wall in the building’s entryway, giving the space a unique gallery feel.
Photo courtesy of Qualls Benson
Photo courtesy of Art Assets
This boutique condominium features an entire gallery exhibition of eye-level floor sculptures curated by artist Danielle Gottesman.
Gottesman was inspired by the architectural floor plans of the property, and when adding light behind these pieces, one can actually see the shadows of the floor plans.
Photo courtesy of Modern Spaces
A glass-walled exhibition space in the lobby of 50 West is hosting a rotating display of art. The first piece on view is a 10-foot-tall twister sculpture of white powder-coated aluminum by the artist Alice Aycock.
Alice’s work can be found in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and the National Gallery of Art.