The Ogham Wall




Mon-Sun 10am-5.45pm

For Irish Design

V&A Commission

London Design Festival joined forces with Irish Design 2015 to commission a major installation designed by Grafton Architects and Graphic Relief. Located in the V&A’s Tapestry Gallery, the commission was part of a year-long programme celebrating Ireland’s creative talent.

The project brought together Stirling Prize-nominee Grafton Architects and concrete experts Graphic Relief to create a large-scale installation in response to the theme put forward by Irish Design 2015: ‘Liminal – Irish design at the threshold.’

“The V&A’s Tapestry Gallery is an oasis within a dynamic institution,” said Shelley McNamara of Grafton Architects. “In this context, and in response to the theme for Irish Design 2015, we wanted to create something with an architectural presence that doesn’t establish a boundary.”

Inspired by the Irish Ogham alphabet, which dates from around the 4th century, The Ogham Wall interpreted letters from this ancient language as an architectural construct of three-metre-high cast concrete ‘fins’. A central linear element brought order to the installation, with an arrangement of smaller perpendicular and angled fins projecting off it to create an abstract rendering of each letter.

“The Ogham script looks very architectural – like the plan for a colonnade – and we were interested in exploring that idea and translating this series of letters into architectural elements,” said Grafton Architects.

Graphic Relief crafted the 23 fins from rough concrete combined with metal details. The surface of each fin was then polished to a smooth finish in some parts, contrasting with slight material imperfections in others that are an intentional by-product of the experimental casting process.

“Together with Grafton Architects, we pushed the concrete in a completely new direction,” said Eric Barrett from Graphic Relief. “It’s a combination of old-fashioned mould-making techniques and amazing contemporary technology. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Each Ogham letter traditionally references the name of a species of tree and Grafton Architects worked with Graphic Relief to cast magnified and abstracted tree-bark patterns into the fins. The result was a tactile surface that referenced the richly textured tapestries in the room, and was described by Grafton as “man-made geology that is beautiful to touch and to look at”.

Supported by Irish Design 2015

London Design Festival

Over nine days in September, the London Design Festival feature hundreds of events taking place across London, showcasing the city's pivotal role in global design. The London Design Festival 2018 will be held 15-23 September, featuring over 400 Partners, Landmark Projects, and V&A Commissions.

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