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

A public event on 2nd March 2018 putting the spotlight on the cinematic agency of sets, props and costumes in the past and present.

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?

Speakers include Finn Halligan, chief film critic for Screen International and author of Filmcraft: Production Design, on key moments in the history of set design in film; design and film historian Pat Kirkham on the work of Charles and Ray Eames in MGM's studios; cultural historian Luke Gibbons will explore Hollywood set design in the early sound era; Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh and Eimer Murphy will discuss their work in costume and prop design today; Elaine Sisson will examine the influence of Hollywood film design of the 1930s on Irish theatre; NCAD Director Sarah Glennie on artist Simon Fujiwara's 'The Humanizer', a proposition for an imagined Hollywood biopic; and curator Vaari Claffey, (work includes 'A MacGuffin and Some Other Things') on film props in contemporary art.

The symposium runs from 11-18 in the Harry Clarke Lecture Theatre, NCAD, 100 Thomas Street, Dublin. Tickets 10 Euro & 8 Euro for students/unwaged available here via Paypal.


Price Options

Ticket price includes a lunch from celebrated Luncheonette.

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.

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