Film and Design in Close Up - a one-day symposium

Event rescheduled - 23rd March - Tickets Still Available

Reflecting on his work for the film Grand Hotel (1932) MGM's design studio head Cedric Gibbons said 'motion picture settings usually serve the purpose of providing a background for the action of the picture. Here, however, the sets take the role of an actor, becoming one of the central figures in the story'.

This one-day symposium at NCAD on Friday 2nd March - organised by the MA Design History and Material Culture in conjunction with the Audi Dublin International Film Festival - will explore Gibbons' claim. Critics, cinema historians and film industry professionals will reflect on the central role played by design in cinema, putting costumes, props and sets in 'extreme close up'. How do things and spaces act on screen? How do they shape film narratives? And what are their off-screen effects on audiences and culture?

The symposium runs from 11-18.00 in the Harry Clarke Lecture Theatre, NCAD, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin. 


11:00 David Crowley and Lisa Godson (co-organisers) Introduction
11:15 Grace Lennon (postgraduate design history researcher, NCAD)
The Life, Designs and Myths of Cedric Gibbons
11:45 TBC
12.15 Dr Elaine Sisson (cultural historian, IADT) From Expressionism to Hollywood: Modernity and Cinema on the Gate Theatre stage 1928-1941

13:00 Lunch

14:00 Professor Pat Kirkham (film and design historian) Case Studies at MGM Art Department under Cedric Gibbons c. 1941-1965:  Margaret "Percy" Harris, Charles Eames, Vincente Minnelli, and others  
14:45 Professor Sarah Glennie (Director of NCAD) Simon Fujiwara's 'The Humanizer', a Proposition for an Imagined Hollywood Biopic
15:15 Vaari Claffey (independent curator) Transitioning Objects: Artworks as Objects within Narratives

15:45 Tea/Coffee

16:00 Eimer Murphy (design historian and prop maker, Abbey Theatre) Props: Taking on a Heroic Life of their Own
16:20 TBC
16:40 Q&A and on-stage discussion about contemporary film design
17:00 Professor Luke Gibbons (cultural historian) The Dream Screen: Hollywood and Art Design.

Tickets 10 Euro & 8 Euro for students/unwaged available here via Paypal.


Price Options
Student/Unemployed €8.00 EUROver 65 €8.00 EURAll Other €10.00 EUR

Ticket price includes a lunch from the much celebrated Luncheonette.

Cedric Gibbons

This one-day symposium at NCAD in conjunction with the celebration of the life and work of Cedric Gibbons which forms part of the 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival.

Gibbons was the most successful art director in the history of cinema. His team at MGM shaped the sets, props and costumes for more than a thousand films,  contributing greatly to the studio's reputation as Hollywood's number one 'dream factory.' He conceived the colossal sets of 'Ben Hur' (1925); the technicolour realm of 'The Wizard of Oz' (1939); and Van Gogh's world in 'Lust for Life' (1956). And Gibbons' enthusiasm for abstract art and art deco interiors probably did more to promote the Modern Movement than the Bauhaus. He won eleven Oscars for his art direction, receiving the famous statuette that he himself had designed.

 To hear more about Gibbons' life and work, please listen to this recent interview with Grace Lennon, one of the speakers at the symposium, on RTE's Arena programme here.

Screenings of films designed by Gibbons will take place during the Dublin International Film Festival; and a foyer exhibition marking his life will also be in the NCAD Gallery Foyer 2-12 March.

Any queries, please contact