Wednesday 24 January 2018

Plaque unveiled at Enniscorthy designer Eileen Gray's former Parisian home

By Amy Lewis

The plaque was unveiled in Paris last week.
The plaque was unveiled in Paris last week.

The memory of influential Enniscorthy designer Eileen Gray will live on through a memorial plaque which was recently unveiled at her former home in Paris.

The marble plaque was unveiled by Ireland's Ambassador to France Geraldine Byrne Nason, Patrick Klugman from Paris town hall and Chantal Lambert-Burens from the local sixth arrondissement government last week. It marked almost 40 years since the death of the renowned furniture and interior designer.

A tribute to Gray's Irish roots was made when a green, white and orange floral display was placed in the courtyard of her former home at 21 rue Bonaparte. Berenice Abbott's 1920s photographic portrait of Gray stood on an easel during the ceremony.

Dozens of people gathered in the courtyard to remember Gray, who lived in the building from 1907 to 1976. Ms Byrne Nason read a letter from British author and filmmaker Peter Adam, who was a close friend of Grays. It gave a further insight into the celebrated designer and the life she lived.

'Perceived as severe and distant, those who knew her were struck by her charm, coquetry, laughter and tenderness," wrote Adam, who said that Gray told him of her attitude 'towards all these people who take the trouble to dig you up and preserve at least a part of your oeuvre, which, without their efforts, would disappear like everything else.'

The plaque, which is written in French, reads: Eileen Gray, Irish Architect and Designer 1878-1976 lived in this building from 1907 to 1976.

Born in Enniscorthy, Gray moved to Paris from her childhood home of London in 1902. In order to afford the 3,000 francs annual rent on her apartment, Gray asked her mother to raise her allowance. Three years later, the apartment became her own and she stayed there until her death at age 98.

The fourtieth anniversary of Eileen Gray's death is on October 31 and many events in her honour are expected to take place nationwide.

Wexford People

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