About Anto

About Anto
Anthony Obrien

Dubliner Anthony OBrien is a fifth-generation artist from a family of well-known Irish painters. He grew up painting, drawing and modeling in clay. He graduated with an MA in English from Trinity College Dublin in 1970. He then trained as a potter with a pupil of Bauhaus ceramicist Marguerite Wildenhain in the USA and with Tue Poulsen in Denmark. He subsequently worked for a while with pioneer potter Michael Cardew, in England. He exhibited minimalist paintings in the Irish “Living Art” and “Young Irish Artists” exhibitions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He established his Dublin studio in 1972. Music was always a parallel interest, and after many years performing early music, he trained in 1980 as a maker of viols and violins while continuing to make domestic pottery on commission.

From 1986 he attended life-drawing classes at the National College of Art and Design for six years.

In 1990 he won first prize for sculptural ceramics at the Royal Dublin Society National Crafts Competition and decided to return to full-time pottery, specialising in large architectural pots and hand-painted domestic earthenware. He also made replica medieval pottery for the National Museum of Ireland, Drogheda Museum, the Board of Works, and several restored castles in Ireland.

Recently, he was one of seven Irish potters awarded a special development grant by the Crafts Council of Ireland to develop new areas of work outside of their commercial range. This has allowed him to pursue an intensive study of wood-ash glazes, and high-temperature stoneware, incorporating new media such as paper-clay. His mentor has been his cousin Michael OBrien, who took over the running of the Pottery Training Centre at Abuja, Nigeria, from its founder, Michael Cardew in 1965. Michael OBrien is a world authority on wood-fired kilns and ash-glazed stoneware.

In 2011 Anthony made the documentary film,”Tatiko, the Journey of an African Pot” with Michael OBrien in Nigeria. It was shown at the Westport Arts Festival that year, and at Ceramic Art London at the Royal College of Art in April 2013.

His book, “36 Views of Croagh Patrick, pictures and poems,” was published by CPR Publications and launched at the Rolling Sun Book Festival in 2014.

Recent Exhibitions

  • 2015 – 2016 NAG Gallery, Dublin
  • 2010 – 2016 Quay Gallery, Westport. Open Window Gallery, Dublin.
  • Sea, Sky, Shore Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Gourmet Pots, Schull, West Cork.
  • 2009
  • Sea, Sky, Shore Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo.
  • Gourmet Pots, Schull, West Cork.
  • 2008
    Sea, Sky, Shore Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo.
  • 2007
    Sea, Sky, Shore Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo.
  • 2006
    (Moved to Co. Mayo) Medieval Replica pottery for Sligo Archaeological Dept.
  • 2005
    New Irish Ceramics (Crafts Council of Ireland) Wales and Lithuania
  • 2004
    Access to Art, Dublin
    New Irish Ceramics, National Craft Gallery, Kilkenny
    Joanna Bird Gallery, Cork Street, London
    Pepper Canister Gallery, Dublin
  • 2003
    Pepper Canister Gallery, Dublin
  • 2002
    Pepper Canister Gallery, Dublin
  • 2001
    Pepper Canister Gallery, Dublin
  • 2000
    Cill Rialaig, Co. Kerry
  • 1990 – 2000
    Medieval Replica Pottery for Board of Works
  • 1992
    Dinner service for President Mary Robinson
  • 1990 – 2000
    Groups Shows at the Crafts Council of Ireland HQ Gallery, Dublin.

One-man Shows

  • 2015 “MU The Emptiness of Bowls” NAG Gallery, Dublin
  • 2008 Sea, Sky, Shore Gallery, Westport, Co. Mayo
  • 2006 Peter Johnson Gallery, Dublin
  • 1999
    Baytree Gallery, Holywood. Northern Ireland
  • 1997
    Christopher Hull Gallery, Knightsbridge, London
  • 1996
    Elaine Somers Gallery, Holywood, Northern Ireland
  • 1993
    European Modern Art Gallery, Dublin
  • 1991
    European Modern Art Gallery, Dublin


Where the medium is ceramic, everything has to pass through the fire of the kiln. It may be kind or cruel, generous or destructive. The result can never be predicted. The work is always at the mercy of the elemental energies of earth, water, fire and air. This journey into the unknown is the spiritual core of my art and life.

There is some consolation for potters and ceramic artists in the fact that, once fired, ceramic is almost indestructible. When every trace of our high-tech, electronic civilisation has vanished, and cyberspace is no longer even a memory, when metals have corroded, and plastics have degraded, our potsherds will survive, bearing the mark of the hands that made them, as potsherds have already done for thousands of years.