Emmet Kane

E.7.E.11 Woodturned Vessel with Red Lacquer, 2015

Emmet Kane


Emmet Kane was inspired by the lacquer work of Irish émigré Eileen Gray (1878-1976) – combining smooth, sumptuous red lacquer and textured, Irish burr oak in his vessels with his piece E.7.E.11. The title is in homage to the coding system which Gray used for her famous villa in Roqeubrune in the south of France entitled E.1027, 1926-29. It represented the letters and numbers of the architect who designed the building (Eileen Gray) and the owner (Jean Badovici). The code being E for Eileen, 10 for the tenth letter of the alphabet for Jean, 2 for the second letter of the alphabet Badovici and 7 for the seventh letter of the alphabet Gray. Kane called his piece E.7.E.11 – Eileen Gray, Emmet Kane by using Gray’s numerical and alphabet system. This piece was inspired directly from seeing the Eileen Gray exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland 2002 and then the exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2013. Kane became fascinated in the ancient art of lacquering and wanted to study exactly how Eileen Gray had created her lustrous red and orange lacquer ware. Ancient lacquer is an arduous task and is highly toxic. Natural lacquer comes from the sap of the Rhus tree and the process begin with priming the wood, sealing it with a layer of silk gauze adhered with rice gum, and then painting the natural lacquer in layers onto the wood. Pigments and colours can be added to get various effects. The process has to be performed in a humid environment and each individual piece is covered with up to forty layers of lacquer which takes up to ten days to dry. Kane used a modern day process of lacquering – yet similarly he had to work in a humid environment and build up the layers of red lacquer inside the vessel repeatedly. Kane created the vessel using ebonised and textured oak which contrasts sharply with the smooth, glistening surface of the red lacquer interior. He left the vessel with a natural edge which is an effective visual to entice people to look inside.

Materials: Burr oak, lacquer

Year purchased: 2015

Location: “Twenty Seven Years of the work of Irish Woodturner Emmet Kane” exhibition

Image © Fran Morrin
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