2015 Press Releases

UCC to recognise three creative geniuses

5 Jun 2015
Fashion designer Don O’Neill, furniture designer and maker Joseph Walsh and cultural historian, curator and philanthropist Nicholas Fox Weber are each to receive a UCC honorary doctorate on Friday, 5 June 2015. Pictured: Joseph Walsh with Lilium II (Photo: Joseph Walsh Studio/Andrew Bradley)

University College Cork (UCC) will roll out the red carpet on Friday, 5 June 2015 to welcome and honour three renowned creative minds at the pinnacle of their professions.

Fashion designer Don O’Neill, furniture designer and maker Joseph Walsh and cultural historian, curator and philanthropist Nicholas Fox Weber are each to receive a UCC honorary doctorate.

Family, friends and personalities from the worlds of art, fashion and design will come from as far afield as New York and Connecticut to attend one of UCC’s biggest annual events. The UCC Honorary Conferrings recognise individuals who have distinguished themselves nationally or internationally, through their scholarship, creativity, public service or contribution to social, cultural, sporting or economic life. 

The trio will also take part in a public conversation, ‘Creativity in Design: Meet the makers’, in the Glucksman Gallery on Thursday, 4 June at 6pm, in association with the Year of Irish Design 2015. The event is free, but booking is requested through rsvp@glucksman.org due to high demand.

Don ONeill, a native of Ballyheigue in Co. Kerry and the Creative Director of global label THEIA, will be conferred with a Doctor of Arts. Now based out of New York, the fashion designer is known all over the world for his elegant and sophisticated eveningwear.

Initially training as a chef, Don was able to follow his true passion and study to be a fashion designer after winning a full tuition scholarship to the Barbara Bourke College of Fashion Design in Dublin. Since then, he has gone on to conquer the world of fashion, having worked in London, Paris and New York with a diverse range of prominent labels and individuals, including Gina Fratini, Christian Lacroix and the Badgley Mischka Platinum label, amongst others.

Celebrities who have worn his work include Taylor Swift, Emmy Rossum, Idina Menzel, Oprah Winfrey (Oscars 2012), Carrie Underwood (The Grammy Awards 2013), Amy Poehler (Emmys 2014) and Khloe Kardashian (Golden Globe Awards 2015). He also counts journalists Gráinne and Síle Seoige (IFTAS 2014) and Sabina Higgins, the wife of President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins, amongst his Irish fans.

Don will be introduced by Dr Jean van Sinderen-Law, Director of Development and Alumni Relations at UCC.

Acclaimed craftsman Joseph Walsh will be conferred with a Doctor of Arts. Joseph founded his furniture studio and workshop in Riverstick, Co. Cork in 1999 and currently lives in Kinsale. The self-taught designer maker is lauded internationally for his extraordinary designs, which can be found in numerous international museum and private collections and are regularly exhibited at major art and design fairs, from the Oliver Sears Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, to the Centre George Pompidou, Paris and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, amongst many others.

Joseph employs a specialist team of craftspersons and design technicians, seeking to challenge and disrupt existing practice. He seeks inspiration in nature, in the patterns of growth and evolution - this has influenced his approach to design and process allowing the pieces to evolve and reveal themselves.

Leaving Home from Chris Kunnert on Vimeo.

With a number of exhibitions and appearances scheduled at museums and art festivals this year alone in the UK and US, Joseph is currently working on several projects, including: The Magnus Series - a large scale sculptural installation for a 15th century Chapel near Verona, Italy; The Lilium Series - new work commissioned by private clients from the series which was launched last year at a solo exhibition in Oliver Sears Gallery, Dublin. After the launch of the Lumenoria and Exilumen series in New York last year, Joseph is also continuing to develop and design work in materials such as resin, marble and aluminium.

Joseph will be introduced by Professor Philip O’Kane, Emeritus Professor of Civil Engineering at UCC.

Given the significant imprint both Joseph and Don continue to make on the world of art, design and fashion, it is fitting that the third recipient is Nicholas Fox Weber. A cultural historian, author, curator and philanthropist, he has dedicated his life to understanding and sharing the visual arts. Nicholas will be conferred with a Doctor of Literature in recognition of his achievements.

Nicholas is the executive director of the Connecticut-based not-for-profit Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, described by Nicholas Serota, director of Tate in London as "the cream of artist's foundations: the standard bearer." The Albers Foundation serves as a unique center for the understanding and appreciation of the arts and of all visual experience. Amongst its many initiatives is an artist residency programme, which many Irish artists have benefited from, including Donald Teskey, Nick Miller, Diana Copperwhite, Anita Groener, Ronnie Hughes and Mark Joyce.

The American has a strong connection to Cork, having spent much time there over the years in Glandore, Co. Cork. His son-in-law is also from Cork. Nicholas has written extensively about the artists Josef and Anni Albers and curated many major exhibitions and retrospectives dedicated to their extraordinary work, including shows at Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum New York, the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, the Guggenheim, New York, the Wadsworth Athenaeum and the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC, amongst others. He is also a board member of the Glucksman Gallery.

Nicholas Fox Weber and Colm Tóibín discuss Josef Albers from Nicholas Fox Weber on Vimeo.

Nicholas is also the founder and president of American Friends of Le Korsa, a non-profit organisation that works directly with doctors, teachers, and students in Senegal to improve lives. He recently established Thread, a pioneering site for artists from around the world to live and work in Sinthian, a rural village in Tambacounda, Senegal. It will allow artists access to the raw materials of inspiration found in this rarely-visited area of the world, and to use art as a means of developing linkages between rural Senegal and other parts of the globe. It is also a venue for markets, classes, performances and meetings. The roof retains rainwater, creating a viable source for 40% of the village's domestic water needs.

Nicholas is the author of fourteen books including The Art of Babar, The Drawings of Josef Albers, Balthus and The Bauhaus Group. He is currently working on a biography of artist Piet Mondrian. Nicholas will be introduced by Fiona Kearney, Director of the Lewis Glucksman Gallery.

The 2015 University College Cork Honorary Conferring Ceremony takes place on Friday, 5 June.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF