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If you're looking for designer desserts and sweet treats in a lavish location? Of course you are.

The Westbury is heralding the return of the National College of Art and Design-inspired Afternoon Tea, as long term supporters of arts, design fashion and culture.

Cakes and pastries which will be served at the luxurious Gallery restaurant have been created through the kaleidoscope of NCAD fashion students, and they look earth-shatteringly good.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Nestled between Dublin's creative quarter and elegant Grafton Street, the decadent Westbury hotel is the capital's premier luxury location and member of the Leading Hotels of the World.

Renowned for its commitment to supporting the arts, the Westbury is now celebrating five years of their partnership with the National College of Art and Design by launching their most fashionable Afternoon Tea to date.

These artistic cakes and treats will be available for a limited period, and guests of the serene Gallery can sample exquisitely designed desserts from rising stars in design,

Executive Pastry Chef at The Westbury, Ray Encarnacion, has skilfully made the presentation and was clearly inspired by the style and intricate detail of each fashion look.

Fashion design: Ciara Allen

The impressive orange outfit is infused with vibrant colour and was created by Ciara Allen. Ray was influenced to draw upon the bold colour choice by sculpting a sumptuous pistachio Bavaroise, hazelnut sable, and khalua fluid gel. 

Fashion design: Dora Oduro

Dora Oduro Newman's gorgeous dark design encompasses an oversize black dress with dupion silk embellishment and rivet studs, inspired by her multi-cultural experience.

As a result, Ray made a striking black and gold tartlet, with cherry gel, chocolate mousse and delish peach custard. We are shaking with the sugar cravings right about now.

Fashion designer: Gabrielle Malone

The all-white creation by Gabrielle Malone was inspired by fishermen's work attire and tools, and translates as a delicate Verrine made of white chocolate cremeux.

That gorgeous orange colour is passion fruit jelly, mixed with white chocolate and coconut-whipped ganache. Heaven help us.

Fashion design: Una King

Bivouac, Una King's poncho design, is based on the concept of temporary encampment. Ray created the stunning, elegant cake with delicious and light beer sponge, strawberry mousse, yoghurt cremeux and citrus Italian meringue.

The flavours…someone pick our jaws up off the floor please.

If you are what you eat, does that make us artists?

Designer: Elizabeth Omowumi

Last but not least, Elizabeth Omowumi’s voluminous hooded design is an oversized African print laser-cut jacket with knit cuffs, over a colourful African print-petaled shirt with knit collar.

Ray created a vibrant choux from blueberry compôte and lavender pastry cream to bring the style to edible life.

The pastry chef described how he crafted the unique array of desserts, explaining how rewarding the experience was:

"Meeting with the designers in their NCAD fashion studio and choosing from their amazing creations, deciding which would translate best as a dessert was an unusual but exciting opportunity for me.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"There’s always a fine balance to be struck between how the cakes and pastries resemble the designers work, and how this will be interpreted by our guests," Encarnacion added.

"Gaining an insight into the students’ inspiration behind the designs was crucial to the interpretation of the designs, and I hope the designers and guests alike are pleased with the end result”

Guests can enjoy the bespoke NCAD Inspired Afternoon Tea for just €55 per person, or €70 per person with Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut or Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé.

If you want the full shebang with Dom Pérignon Champagne, the Afternoon Tea will cost a total of €90…it's totally worth it in our humble opinion.

The NCAD Inspired Afternoon Tea is available from June 7 until mid-September, but book in advance on their website to ensure a spot. 

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Áine Marry is about to graduate from the degree in Painting and Visual Culture from NCAD, and her final exhibition showcases a struggle that many of us are familiar with, but have never been able to externalise.

Áine uses her artistic talents to personify the experience of having mental health issues, most prominently, depression and anxiety. 

Her exhibition pieces at first glance seem to be bright, cheerful depictions of a yellow-haired cartoon version of Aine, but on closer inspection, the work explores the inner dialogue between the person and the disorder. 

 

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Like all the best ideas, the inspiration to begin creating these characters came naturally, from Áine's own experiences with metal health issues, which she feels began around the age of 10 with anxiety.  

'They started off as drawings. I had a notebook and it was just a Saturday one day where I hadn't showered and I just literally drew this avatar in a t-shirt and shorts saying 'oh I should probably shower' and I drew another one of this little person in a bed and all of these thoughts about anxiety,' she recalled.

'Once I started posting them to my personal Instagram, people liked it.'

She then brought her paintings in to her tutor at NCAD, who saw the massive potential for development in Áine's concept.

 

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'Then the characters of depression and anxiety, I created them and they started to have a lot more too them, I could put them in different scenarios, like the Tinder profile, I wanted to put them into modern day situations because we live in tis modern social media age.' 

Áine's characters live in the digital age, as does her actual art, with an Instagram dedicated to her project which has over 1567 followers to date who follow her process.

Seeing the lives of others through a digitally altered snapshot has become the norm, and while Áine's art Instagram helps others by sharing her relatable work, she feels that the online world can contribute negatively to those who are struggling. 

'Before I had my art one [Instagram], I had my personal one, and sometimes you put something up when you don't feel that great, and you feel like you need this response of likes to make you feel better about yourself, like you're worth something, so it can be definitely dangerous.'

 

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'But, it can be helpful,' she said, referencing the more personal pieces of art she has uploaded on her page that she has been wary about sharing.

'They are the ones I get the most response from. I get messages saying 'thank you so much' and it's so worth it then.' 

Despite the improving societal attitude sto mental health, Áine still feels there is a way to go when it comes to removing shame from the label

'I still feel stigmatised and I would still squirm while talking about it with maybe family and friends.'

'It hasn't been talked about in so long, and now the conversation has finally been opened and it's stigmatised to a certain extent.'

 

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As a society, the English language has adopted and borrowed terms such as 'depressed,' acting 'bipolar' and 'panic attack ' from the mental health conversation. 

This casual use of the terminology, while harmless for the most part, can contribute to the dismissive nature held by some over the struggle of those with the actual disorders.

You know like when you say a word so many times it loses all meaning? It's called semantic satiation and it's a thing, I promise.

'There are people who can't get out of bed for three weeks because they genuinely can't live, where as you have people who are just tired and they're like 'I'm depressed, and that's not to take a way from anyone like you're not allowed to feel that way, but there is definitely people taking advantage of it,' she said, drawing on examples of celebrities using the terms to seem more relatable. 

 

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If the term 'I'm depressed' now stands for 'I'm sad,' then how does one with an actual mental health problem describe their symptoms to the wider world without feeling it has been minimised?

Áine's own struggles began when she was a child, but got worse when she transitioned into college life, leading to her seeking help. 

'As a young girl it's really easy to start hating yourself visually, I just feel like that's the day and age we live in it's very easy, something can just click in your head where you're like 'I don't look okay,'' she said, reflecting on her relationship with her mental health in her childhood.  

'I let myself get really really bad in college, I didn't know if I wanted to be here,' she said. 

'You have the core problem but then you have all these other issues that stem from it, so it's been an ongoing thing, but recognising it in college, opening up and talking about it, and being like 'it is what it is' has really helped.' 

 Áine's exhibition, along with her fellow graduate's work, will be on display on NCAD's campus this weekend. 

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As part of a collaboration known as The Textile Project, students from the National College of Art and Design have seen their creations hit the shelves of Ireland's most luxurious department store this week.

Tasked with creating beautiful, colourful and printed fabrics, twenty students from the college rose to the challenge, with two of the patterns ultimately used to create a limited edition silk scarf and candle wrap.

The scarf has been produced in Ireland by CREATE alumni Sara O’Neill while the exclusive wrap decorates a White Pomegranate scented candle which has been produced by Max Benjamin in Enniskerry.

Inspired by everything from the distillers press in the NCAD to the changing profile of the Dublin skyline, the students also saw their prints adorn the iconic Brown Thomas shopping bag.

Truly impressed by the students' creations, John Redmond, the Creative Director of the Brown Thomas said: "The brief was to work with the 2nd year students to embrace colour, pattern and textures in their design and we feel the work that the students have delivered has far exceeded all our expectations."

"What’s really exciting about this, collaboration is that we have developed two products that will be sold instore – a limited edition candle and silk scarf using these beautiful vibrant prints!”

"This project provides an opportunity to showcase the creativity, innovation and skills that NCAD students acquire and develop during their studies," added Angela Kelly, Head of Design for Body and Environment at NCAD.

The products are on sale until stock lasts and the exhibition runs until June 14, so if you want to support Ireland's next generation of designers, you know what to do!

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On Friday night fifteen graduating designers showcased their work at the annual National College of Art and Design, each showing six pieces from their graduate collections.

In addition to showcasing their work at the show, NCAD students also got the chance to rub shoulders with some of the leading names of Ireland’s fashion scene. Renowned Irish designer Carolyn Donnelly was there to support her daughter, Lily Spain, and her classmates. Celebrated designer Helen Steele was also there, as well as other high-profile guests included Anne Heffernan, representing Dunnes Stores, the shows sponsor.

Ciara O’Doherty from SHEmazing! TV went along to the show. Check out the video for more!

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