The Richard Demarco Prize 2019 has been awarded to a Northern Irish student who has used the Brexit debate to create a humorous, yet pointed, piece of furniture.
The annual prize is awarded by the celebrated Professor Richard Demarco CBE, one of the UK’s leading arts commentators and a leading advocate for contemporary art.
Stephen Barr’s “Strong and Stable Brexit Cabinet,” in walnut and Japanese ash, depicts the Union Jack on one door, and the EU’s stars on the other.
It’s a piece of furniture that is both a parody on the Brexit debate and a pointed reminder that we are living in uncertain political times.
Stephen’s prize was a piece of crystal glassware commemorating the life of Thomas Chippendale, after whom the school is named.
Professor Demarco’s prize is awarded to the professional course student whose work not only displays design and woodworking skill but exceptional artistic talent.
Stephen, who now lives in Edinburgh, is setting up Starship Unicorn Furniture from premises in West Lothian.
“Stephen’s cabinet is something that I’ve rarely seen before,” said Professor Demarco.
“Not only is it a functional and beautifully-made piece of furniture, but it packs a very real political punch,” he said.
Professor Demarco is a former European Citizen of the Year whose contributions to contemporary art have been recognised by several countries.
He is the recipient of the Polish Gold Order of Merit, the Cavaliere della Republica d’Italia, and the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres de France.
Stephen, who ran his own IT business, first came to the school on a one-week introductory course.
This helped him decide that furniture design and making was something that he wanted to pursue.
His playful “Strong and Stable Brexit Cabinet” also has a deliberate gap between the outer walnut structure of the cabinet and its ash inner.
This represents the gaps between opinion on the vexed Brexit question.
It’s not often that a piece of furniture can transcend its functional purpose to become a talking point, and we endorse Professor Demarco’s choice of winner!
Pictured: Professor Demarco with Stephen, and the Brexit Cabinet under construction and the finished piece.