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Past Exhibitions

Irish Craft Heroes 50 Makers x 50 years

23.07.2021 to 06.10.2021
10:00 am
Ticket Price



Tour Dates 2022:

Fota House & Gardens, Cork  26 May – 26 July 2022
Botanic Gardens, Belfast 30 July – 7 Nov 2022

Tour Dates 2021:

Kilkenny Castle 23 July – 6 October 2021
Dublin Castle 14 October 2021 – 30 November 2021
GMIT Creative Media Campus,Galway  5 March – 16 May 2022

On Tour

GMIT Creative Media Campus 5 March 2022 – 16 May 2022

Fota House Arboretum & Gardens 26 May 2022 – 26 July 2022

Botanic Gardens, Belfast 30 July 2022 – 7 November 2022

In response to current climate, DCCI National Design & Craft Gallery have developed this exhibition as an highly-visual, outdoor panel trail. In the absense of the objects, the focus is on strong images of iconic pieces and sharing makers stories through designed panels. This innovative outdoor presentation will ensure the project can take place no matter restrictions, allowing us to present the exhibition in key locations throughout the country, and ensuring the widest possible audience have an opportunity to engage with the project. 

Irish Craft Heroes, a major exhibition celebrating 50 years of Irish craft, coincides with Design & Crafts Council Ireland’s (DCCI) 50th Anniversary since its establishment in 1971. To mark this landmark occasion, DCCI National Design & Craft Gallery has produced an outdoor, touring exhibition and publication (December 2021) charting the evolution of the craft and design sector in Ireland over the last 50 years, paying homage to the many makers whose work has contributed to the rich tapestry of craft and design practice in Ireland. 

Following the World Crafts Council General Assembly in Dublin in 1970, and arising from the needs of a lively, developing craft sector, Crafts Council was established in 1971 as a voluntary body under the chairmanship of Frank Sutton and a committee of honorary officials. Throughout the past fifty years Crafts Council (Design & Crafts Council Ireland since 2014) has championed Ireland’s designer makers, fostering its growth and commercial strength, raising awareness of the unique identity of Irish craft and design, and stimulating quality design and innovation. In 2021, Ireland is recognised for its exceptional craft and design, which is celebrated throughout the world. 

Through a public open call, Design & Crafts Council Ireland invited its members, GANS, partners, and the wider craft and design sector to nominate their #IrishCraftHero: ‘to celebrate makers whose work has significant legacy, has heralded new approaches or changed the way we look at the world.’ 

This open call invited nominations of standout makers whose work inspires and has significantly impacted the sector over the past 50 years. Through the public form and invited submissions from sector experts over 600 nominations were received. 

Following the public nominations, an Expert Committee was convened charged with the difficult task of narrowing the selection to 50 makers: Dr Audrey Whitty, Head of Collections & Learning, National Museum Ireland; Kim Mawhinney, National Museums Northern Ireland; Brian Kennedy, Applied Art Curator; Vincent O’Shea, Curator and Consultant; and Dr Anna Moran, Lecturer Design and Material Culture, NCAD. The Expert Panel reviewed all nominations against assessment criteria of: skill, design, impact, innovation and originality. 

The nominations process highlighted the wealth of inspirational makers working in Ireland throughout the last fifty years, making it an exceptionally difficult selection process. It also raised the fact that there are so many other heroes who have, and continue, to significantly contribute in various ways to the sector, through commitment to education; leading development of disciplines through Guilds, Associations Networks and Societies (GANS); establishing innovative projects to support makers; or indeed advocating on behalf of the sector. Through the publication we intend to acknowledge a number of these heroes who were nominated for significantly contributing in other ways to the sector. 

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