Design & Crafts Council Ireland Launches Irish Craft Heroes Publication To Mark Its 50th Anniversary
This August, Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI) launches the Irish Craft Heroes publication to mark its 50th anniversary of the agency supporting and celebrating makers since 1971. The Irish Craft Heroes initiative involved an extensive external nomination and selection process. The outcomes of which include an outdoor touring exhibition trail and a beautifully produced hardback publication, entitled Irish Craft Heroes, which celebrates 50 Heroes, 50 Champions and 10 Future Lights who have significantly contributed to the evolution of Irish craft over the last 50 years. The hardback publication includes stunning images of work, and a timeline of key developments, as well as essays written by five of Ireland’s leading craft writers and historians, who were commissioned to examine the history of the period through different lenses.
Published by Third Age Books, an imprint of Liberties Press, the Irish Craft Heroes publication was designed by We Make Visual and printed in Ireland by Colorman, Dublin. Andrew Bradley, Chair of DCCI penned the introduction, which charts the beginning of DCCI, following the 1970 World Crafts Council General Assembly in Dublin, and its journey over five decades supporting makers. It conveys the growth of the craft and design sector in Ireland through its creativity, innovation, resilience and collaborative spirit, and government support during this time.
CEO of DCCI, Rosemary Steen’s foreword, ‘New Future of Partnership and Growth’, comments on the enduring strength, creativity and resilience of the Irish craft and design sector, its importance to Ireland’s economy, society and culture, and the vision for the years ahead. ‘The endeavours of DCCI to ensure the preservation and growth of Ireland’s renowned heritage of skills and traditions has long been enabled by simultaneously creating business development and enterprise opportunities, both domestically and internationally…This collection of work, which represents the last fifty years of craft, is just a slice of the broad output by our makers which is encountered in so many areas of our lives – and which, taken together, forms the unique and sought-after identity of Irish craft and design at home and abroad.’
Craft and Design Essays
The book opens with an examination of Craft in a Changing World from 1970 to 2021 and into the future, written by Eleanor Flegg, craft historian, and Roger Bennett, writer and wood-turner. Joseph McBrinn, reader in Art and Design History at Belfast School of Art in Ulster University, then outlines the development of third-level craft education in Ireland, while textiles historian, Vawn Corrigan, looks at the historical and ongoing contribution of craft-based industries and production workshops to the sector. Hilary Morley, curator and arts facilitator, assesses the importance of the Guilds, Associations, Networks and Societies (GANS) in the overall success of Irish craft. Independent consultant and craft writer, Frances McDonald, traces the internationalisation of Irish craft, through the work of makers who came to Ireland from elsewhere. Collectively, the essays paint a picture of a sector which is historically dynamic, adaptive and resilient.
50 Heroes, 50 Champions and 10 Future Lights
Through a public open call, DCCI invited its members and the wider craft and design community to nominate their ‘Irish Craft Heroes’: ‘makers whose work has significant legacy, has heralded new approaches or has changed the way we look at the world’. Through the public form, and invited submissions from sector experts, more than six hundred nominations were received. Following the public nominations, an expert committee was convened, and charged with the difficult task of narrowing the selection to fifty makers. A number of those who were nominated for their substantial contributions in other ways to the sector are acknowledged in the publication as ‘Irish Craft Champions’; others feature in the ‘Timeline of Irish Craft’, which charts the development of the sector by identifying fifty key moments in the recent history of Irish craft.
Ten emerging makers, nominated by public vote and selected by an expert panel, were chosen as the Future Lights of Irish craft.
Hugo Byrne is a maker of knives, practical tools for chefs and kitchens, which are also objects of beauty
Mark Newman is a conceptual fine-art jeweller whose work is as much to be contemplated as to be worn
Annemarie Reinhold is a silversmith, the maker of elegant plant-based forms
Alan Meredith is a woodturner, a furniture-maker and an architect
Jennifer Hickey is a ceramic sculptor whose work is constructed from porcelain and thread
Cecilia Moore is a metalsmith in copper, bronze and silver
Emma Bourke makes sculpture from lamp-worked glass – a technique which was once used to make scientific instruments as well as glass models of animals and plants
Helen O’Shea’s work is inspired by ocean-waste and made from discarded plastic
Pierce Healy makes subversive jewellery and engraved objects
Karen Donnellan is an artist who works in glass with light and sound.
Irish Craft Heroes and Irish Craft Champions
The Irish Craft Heroes nominations demonstrated the wealth of inspirational makers working in Ireland over the last fifty years. It also highlighted so many other heroes who significantly contribute to the craft community – through their commitment to education, guilds, associations, networks and societies; leading the development of disciplines; establishing innovative projects to support makers; and advocating on behalf of craftspeople and their work. These are the Irish Craft Champions.
As Design & Crafts Council Ireland faces into its second half century, the Irish Craft Heroes book is a rich and insightful compilation of Irish craft in all its forms, and of the many innovative people who have contributed to the ongoing evolution of Ireland’s cherished traditions of craft and enterprise.
The Irish Craft Heroes book is available to purchase from 5th August priced at €35 from Design & Crafts Council Ireland and the National Design & Craft Gallery.
For further information please contact Claire Feely, Rachel Farrell or Shona Hutchinson at Elevate PR on 01-6625652 Claire@elevate.ie / Rachel@elevate.ie / Shona@elevate.ie
Notes to Editor
Irish Craft Heroes
The Irish Craft Heroes
Róisín de Buitléar
Mary Palmer & Anne Kiely
Cóilín Ó Dubhghaill
Pádraig Ó Mathúna
The Irish Craft Champions
Tina Byrne & Elaine Riordan
Dr Muriel Gahan
Glenn Lucas & Cornelia McCarthy
About Design & Crafts Council Ireland
Design & Crafts Council Ireland is the national agency for craft and design in Ireland, we support designers and makers to develop their businesses in a sustainable way, and advocate for the societal benefits of craft and design. DCCI's activities are funded by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment via Enterprise Ireland. DCCI currently has 64 member organisations and over 3,500 registered clients.