THE BEST designers and makers from Ireland’s brimming contemporary craft industry were in London last month showcasing their unique work and much desired wares.
More than 20 artists were on hand to represent the island of Ireland in ‘Vernacular – an exhibition of contemporary design and craft from Ireland’, which went on display at the Truman Brewery.
The impressive selection of craftsmen and women behind the range of labels involved in the collaborative exhibition was pulled together by the Crafts Council of Ireland to make up the Irish contingent in this year’s London Design Festival.
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Here we have picked a selection from the bunch who showcased their craftwork…
Aileen Anne Brannigan, stoneware
A stone carver specialising in hand carved lettering using a hammer and chisel and working in traditional methods in her own unique style.
Using locally quarried Kilkenny limestone and black marble, she creates individual sculptures, commemorative pieces and carved stone bowls. Her lettering, which is hand drawn and hand carved, adorns her bowls, vessels and sculptures.
Exploring historic influences, Brannigan aims to create a texture or unity to the whole piece whether it is a single name or an extensive text. She is particularly interested in the relationship between letterform, material and text.
‘Vernacular’ will include a series of Brannigan’s shallow limestone bowls.
A design studio based in Dublin which was established in 2009 by Anna Strzelecka and Robert Skoczylas. Both were born in Poland and studied Architecture in Krakow.
Working mainly on product design and development, furniture, space, conceptual and research related projects, their focus is on simplicity combined with utility, quality, permanence and comfort.
They create objects that are easy to use, but that convey personality, acquire personal meaning to users and are often capable of surprise.
Woodenleg strives to develop pleasant experiences with fresh perspectives in every project. Each work is created to be distinct, relevant and thoughtful. Woodenleg’s ‘Module’ and ‘Teepee’ tables will be featured in ‘Vernacular’.
Alison Fitzgerald, hand-woven baskets
Fitzgerald of Greenwood Baskets in Co. Tyrone was first drawn to basket making after moving to Northern Ireland in 1980.
Noticing the long, slender, brightly coloured willow stems on the shores of Lough Neagh – once a flourishing centre of basketry – she was inspired by their lightness, beauty and pliability. She makes hand-woven baskets using sustainable methods and materials.
Working with several varieties of locally grown willow, she experiments with shape and pattern, while retaining a robust, tactile functionality in all her pieces.
Fitzgerald specialises in frame baskets such as the sciathóg or potato basket, emphasising the ribbing and playing with subtle gradations of colour. A number of these will be featured in ‘Vernacular’.
A Dublin-based industrial design studio set up in 2011 by Cian Corcoran and Ahmad Fakhry.
They work on a broad range of projects, creating experiences with products, spaces, furniture and food for local start-ups, established companies and international clients as well as doing private commissions and their own bespoke products.
At LDF2013 Designgoat will unveil Gray Chair 5.12, inspired by Eileen Gray’s 1926 Non- Conformist Chair.
Jack Doherty, porcelain
Doherty challenges the rules of refinement and containment through the fluidity and energy of his work. His soda-fired vessels are embedded with ancient stories and contemporary narratives.
They create an intervention with domestic space and daily life.
No longer purely utilitarian, these abstract vessels do not conform to conventional use. Doherty questions the vernacular of domesticity and functionality.
He describes himself as being interested in the usefulness of things. Archetypal forms from history are touchstones in his practice. Vessels made for a contemporary context can be solitary and contemplative or ceremonial; for everyday or a special occasion. ‘Vernacular’ will feature Doherty’s recently developed café range.
The Irish Handmade Glass Company, glassware
Founded by four former-Waterford Crystal workers with a combined 130 years of experience in the glass-making, the company specialises in coloured cut and blown glass.
They use new cuts and contemporary designs to create affordable giftware that is handmade on their premises in Waterford City’s historic Viking Quarter.
The company’s glass bottles based on the traditional milk bottle will be included in ‘Vernacular’.
Sasha Sykes, furniture
Sykes is influenced by the scale and aesthetic of the Irish landscape and its impact and relationship with social history and humanity. Her furniture designs combine contemporary processes with traditional crafts and materials.
Using acrylics and hand-cast resins, she embeds found objects and collected organic materials such as wildflowers, thistles, mosses, lichens, seaweeds and shells.
The resins heighten the colours, textures and forms of the material, highlighting their fragility and also their stage in the cycle of life.
In 2001 she established Farm21 in Co. Carlow, Ireland, designing and making contemporary rural furniture. A screen by Sykes will be exhibited at LDF2013.