August Craft Month was in celebratory mood as Craft NI marked its tenth anniversary with a special exhibition featuring the work of Northern Ireland’s leading makers.
Two new exhibitions celebrating the creativity and diversity of Ireland’s designer makers officially launched this year’s August Craft Month at the Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown (Thursday July 30).
The first was Ontogeny, a solo exhibition by internationally acclaimed ceramic artist, Sara Flynn and the second ‘Making It: 10’, a celebration of ten years of Craft NI’s successful business development programme, which has launched the careers of more than 30 makers.
Sara Flynn, who divides her time between West Cork and Belfast, has exhibited extensively in the UK, Ireland and internationally. In essence, her work comes from a love for the process of throwing.
Through experimentation, research and a process of constant making Flynn tests the material capabilities of her chosen medium – porcelain – exploring shape, form and technique to produce beautiful vessels that are purely sculptural in their intent.
She said: “This risk-taking is fundamental to my practice. Without this research stage the new, exciting and successful pieces could not result. It is a labour of love and admitted-obsession.”
The second exhibition, ‘Making it 10’ is a retrospective show featuring the work of 24 of the makers who have completed the Making It programme created by Craft NI and funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Among those makers taking part are glass artist, Catherine Keenan and jewellery maker and silversmith Diane Lyness.
The two year programme supports designer-makers as they take their first steps to creating sustainable craft businesses. It places studio-based craft businesses within host organisations throughout Northern Ireland, with each programme hosting up to eight designer-makers.
There are more than 150 craft-related events taking place in venues throughout Northern Ireland during August including festivals, exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and opportunities to buy high quality craft directly from makers.
With Craft NI itself celebrating its tenth anniversary, Chief Executive Alan Kane said the contemporary craft sector in Northern Ireland has become increasingly more influential over the years.
“We are continuing to work with partners such as Invest NI and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to promote and grow the craft industry in Northern Ireland. This year we are looking at how designer makers can interact with local retailers to showcase the best of Northern Ireland craft.
“August Craft Month would not be possible without the creative input, talent and ingenuity of our craft community. These are exciting times in the craft industry in Northern Ireland and this is highlighted by the numbers of makers coming here to be part of its evolution and success.”
2015 also marks the Year of Irish Design and Northern Ireland makers have been heavily involved including ceramicist Derek Wilson and historic, family business Mourne Textiles who both featured in the prestigious Liminal Irish Designs Exhibition which is being shown in Milan, New York and Eindhoven. The exhibition will return to Dublin in July and August.
Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“Congratulations to Craft NI as they celebrate their tenth annual August Craft Month which has been growing in size and popularity with every passing year. This month-long craft festival beautifully showcases the talent of our makers many of whom incorporate cultural references and indigenous materials into their work. With 130 exhibitions, events and workshops happening in many towns and cities across Northern Ireland, there’s something for everyone so go along, get involved and be inspired by the wonderful work on display.”
Grainne McVeigh, Invest NI’s Director of Consumer Products, said: “Invest NI is delighted to celebrate ten years of partnership with Craft NI and its “Making It” programme. We welcome the exhibition, “Making It 10” as a creative inspiration to launch August Craft Month 2015, providing a platform for talented entrepreneurs, who have participated in the programme, and established their own business, to showcase their craft.
“‘Making It’ and the relationships developed between makers and Craft NI has helped to launch and nurture successful innovative design-led businesses over the last decade. These businesses have created bespoke products with traditional and experimental techniques which exemplify Northern Ireland as a centre for design.”
Other highlights of August Craft Month include:
Fridays in August Craft Month: A special treat for those taking part in August Craft Month activities on Fridays during August Craft Month. For #FinditFriday we have commissioned designs from two exceptional NI designer-makers of very special tote bags (artwork in one case and design/making in the other). A tote bag will be hidden in six separate venues – exhibitions, workshops, etc – waiting for you to find every Friday!
July 31-August 9: Creative Peninsula – annual festival of craft on the Ards Peninsula and North Down featuring coach tours, workshops and exhibitions.
July 31-August 17: Lunasa Festival of Art and Craft presented by ROGHA (Ring of Gullion Handcrafts and Art), – an exhibition, bus tours, open studio visits, classes and workshops.
August 1-29: Island of Makery – Retail-led craft experience at Kiln and Loom in Belfast.
Aug 7-29: From the Festival of Britain to 10 Downing Street at Space CRAFT, Fountain Street, Belfast – an exhibition presented by the Craft and Design Collective which actively explores the relationship between craft and design.
August 14-16: Craft Fest 2015 – annual festival of craft at beautiful Castle Ward on the shores of Strangford Lough.
August 11: A retail masterclass: Selling Craft: Showcasing Craft Merchandise with Shalina Alakabksh at the Dunsilly Hotel, Antrim. This will be followed by a ‘Meet the Buyer’ a special trade event for designer makers and contemporary craft retailers.
August 13: 1940s Craft Open Day at the NI War Memorial Museum – This is a Wartime Craft event to launch a series of ‘Make Do and Mend’ workshops taking place at the museum.
From now – August 22: Forming Words at Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, Limavady – a prestigious touring exhibition from the Flow Gallery in London with 19 leading international makers exploring how text can inspire form and structure.
August 7-29: History Repeating at Down Arts Centre – joint exhibition by ceramic designer makers Rebecca Killen and Aine McKenna exploring common themes in their work as they explore multiples and industrial processes.
July 18 – August 15: Linen Futures at R-Space Gallery,:Lisburn – exhibition celebrating collaborative craft and design based in the past, current and future landscape of Irish linen.
August 2015 and beyond: Craft Map – http://www.craftni.org/craftmap plays a big part in the August Craft Month celebrations as always. Check the map if you are visiting Northern Ireland to see where you can find open studios, outlets and galleries to visit.
For full details of all August Craft Month events, visit the Craft NI website: www.craftni.org and click on the August Craft Month section. To find out about all the makers and events in your area, click on the interactive craft map.