1916 commemorative collection from designer Alison Conneely to open at National Museum of Ireland

Posted 28.10.16

The Shuttle Hive: A Century of Rising Threads, a commemorative collection from designer Alison Conneely and inspired by the role of women in the War of Independence, to open at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History on Friday, 4 November

Photo taken at Project Arts Centre during Brute Clues an exhibition by Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Tom Watt and Tand Williams, Dublin, 2016

The Shuttle Hive: A Century of Rising Threads, a commemorative design collection created by Irish designer Alison Conneely and inspired by the diversity of roles played by women during the War of Independence, will open at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks on Friday, 4 November. Opening to coincide with Mise Éire? Shaping a Nation through Design conference (4 & 5 November), the exhibition runs until January, 2017.

The exhibited collection will display six themed garment panels – reflecting themes from rebellion and resistance to family and domestic life – each consisting of three items of clothing created by Conneely. The panels are inspired by the various roles played by women during this war-time period: as rebels; spies; uniform makers; nurses; messengers; symbols of old Ireland; and revolution directors. Alison’s vision is of a ‘tapestry of values’, and she has used fabrics that evoke both rebellion and modernity, with an ultimate dream of evoking a new myth that is both complex and clean cut.

Commenting on her collection, Alison Conneely said: “Struggle and the aftermath, domestic strife, comradery, secrecy, deceit and espionage are themes explored and de-coded throughout the patterned fabrics and their sensitive embellishment. It's a romance revolution fought with time travel, paper patterns, trial and error, the ghosts that become us and the quest to make this little grief-jerked life on earth a little more worthwhile.”

Her curatorial approach to the project draws from an extensive range of academic, craft and artistic expertise throughout the development of the project, focusing on the importance of the collaborative process. Historians, anthropologists, musicians, tanners, jewellers, sociologists, architects and weavers all play an integral role in the geometric dreamworld and cultural collective that has become The Shuttle Hive.

Conneely was selected from a design commission call out by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) and the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) in 2015 to create a collection of new work(s) on the theme of collective identity, marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising; she was chosen from a shortlist by a judging panel that included Fran Edgerly from Turner-Prize-winning collective, Assemble Studios. The exhibition consists of the designer’s own original work(s) and those created in collaboration with a group of adults, as part of three successive half-day workshops during summer 2016 utilising the NMI’s Decorative Arts & History Collections as a key resource. Workshop facilitators were Alison Conneely, anthropologist Dr. Steve Coleman, historian Dr. Caoilfhionn Ni Bheacháin and textile weaver Katie Hanlan. Each worked with participants using materials relating to 1916 from the Museum as stimuli for engagement and discourse, focusing on the notion of value, identity and the collective, in the context of both 1916 and post-recession Ireland. Documentary footage of this process will also be presented as an installation for the project.

Composer Larry Beau collaborated with Alison Conneely to create an original operatic composition for the project, which is being premiered for the first time in the exhibition. The composition explores the emotional support groups designed by women in the workplace, and is a soundscape for the collection.

Coinciding with the exhibition, on 4 and 5 November, the DCCoI and NMI will jointly host Mise Éire? Shaping a Nation through Design, a two-day conference as part of the 2016 centenary programme at Collins Barracks. The conference will explore the expression of collective and national identity in Ireland since 1916 through the lens of design and craft, featuring contributions from academics, designers, makers and curators (including Alison Conneely), with key note addresses delivered by acclaimed author and ceramic artist Edmund de Waal and leading Irish sociologist Prof. Tom Inglis. Tickets €65 (€40 student concessions).

The Shuttle Hive Collection

Panel 1: Architects of Resistance: pillars of strength from earth-crafted fabric
Fabrics: tweed, crêpe de Chine
Colours: Stone pink, military green
Lambswool tweed is used as the outseam scaffolding, buttressing the drama that sweeps up through stone-pink, paper-soft silk centre fronts.

Panel 2:  Patriot Red: blood-stained rubble and rebel dust
Fabrics: velvet, Irish linen
Colours: oat, blood orange velvet
The curvature and velveteen texture of the antlers from an Irish red deer is used as a double-shutter, loose-fitting kirtle, with oat-coloured Irish linen as the primary body fabric frame. Soft French velvet is juxtaposed with the patterned warp and weft lines of the Belfast linen.

Panel 3: Suffragettes and Thimble Bruises:  Activists and family tribes identified by stitch and motif
Fabric: metal, mohair, kidskin
Colours: fleece white, buttermilk, silver
Featuring textile artist Katie Hanlan and silversmith Gemma O'Leary. Hexagon shapes were sawed and filed, each tiny piece soldered together. After pickling to remove the oxides, desired shapes were hammered and held: the honeycomb of the hive; Suffragette arrows engraved and placed on hearts and collarbones. A selection of nine different stitch patterns, their cryptic symbolism amalgamated upon a single garment.

Panel 4: Domestic Currency: The home as revolution office
Fabric: Irish wool, basket weaves
Colours: oyster white, maize cream, pearl white
A unique approach to pattern-cutting using the mirror image, similar to the shape and outline of the Red Admiral butterfly, which is a well-known symbol of metamorphosis.

Panel 5: New Myths, Old Wounds: Re-imagining the Celtic revival costume
Fabric: French silk, tweed, satin
Colours: matte violet, platinum
Featuring textile weavers Molloy & Sons and embroiderer Arvdas Zapivalovas. Yarns spun and dyed on the west coast of Donegal were woven locally into a great length of lambswool tweed.

Panel 6: The Marching Queens: A leather harness for poise and protection
Fabric: Vacetta leather, Japanese hide
Colors: honey, lavender grey
Featuring artist and leather specialist Róisín Gartland. Hand-dyed Japanese hides, vachetta leather created in an Italian tannery, and assembled using techniques from ancient times – punching, scoring, embossing and hand stitching.

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*NB* The below information must be included if images are used.
‘Photo taken at Project Arts Centre during Brute Clues an exhibition by Andreas Kindler von Knobloch, Tom Watt and Tand Williams, Dublin, 2016.’


Alison Conneely
Alison Conneely is an Irish designer and fashion curator. The root of her practice is woven from the heartland of ancient Connemara, but her threads and cuts cross-hatch a futuristic type of folklore. In 2013, she won the coveted Future Makers award from the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland for her collection, Bella’s Faul. Her modernist collections have appeared in Vogue, Dazed & Confused, Tatler,  The Sunday Times Style and Harpers Bazaar.

About the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland
The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland (DCCoI) is the main champion of the design and craft industry in Ireland, fostering its growth and commercial strength, communicating its unique identity and stimulating quality design, innovation and competitiveness. DCCoI's activities are funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation via Enterprise Ireland. DCCoI currently has 64 member organisations and over 3,200 registered clients. www.dccoi.ie

About the National Museum of Ireland
As a national cultural institution, the National Museum of Ireland has a unique responsibility for the natural history of Ireland and for the rich material culture of its peoples. It plays a central role as a source of education and knowledge of Ireland’s culture and natural history and of its relationship to the wider world, making its collections available to audiences at home and abroad. The Museum has achieved record breaking numbers of over 1 million visitors to their four sites since the start of 2016. Not only is this the 6th consecutive year that the Museum has attracted over 1 million visitors, but it is also the first time this figure has been reached as early as the first week in September; it represents a cumulative increase of 16% on same period last year and is ahead of visitor trends from Fáilte Ireland. Free Admission. www.museum.ie

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