Nearly 20 years ago, as a young woman venturing through the Irish landscape in my Volkswagen van for the first time, my heart was captured by the various terrains and what emerged from them. Mountains loomed large and purple, grass fired out of the ground, giant ferns bowed at roadsides, the turquoise seas were simply breathtaking against the bright and rich greens of the coastal headlands. All the while the wind whistled in my ears, singing a history I had never heard.
Crafts born of their environment
You didn't have to drive far before a small sign would lure you off the beaten track to discover a jeweller, a potter, perhaps a knitter, or a glass blower. Each time you felt as if you were making a personal discovery, so remote were some of these places and so beautiful and unique was the work that you found. The common thread to my eye, both then and now, is that the work in so many cases was born of its environment. Artists and makers consciously or unconsciously encapsulated the colours, tones, light, forms, often the very air, of the environments in which they worked.
The most pronounced change that has happened in Irish craft over the past two decades is that it has been brought out of those remote rural workshops and presented to the wider world, and acknowledged for the startling work it often is. It goes to international art fairs, comprises parts of national collections, is represented in galleries and makers are periodically featured in articles and magazines. But in all this movement, whether in traditional or contemporary design practices, this body of Irish craft somehow retains its sense of place, the timeless qualities of the landscape within which it is produced.
The collection of craft presented in this website is my attempt to bring you on a journey of how place emanates through the work of the makers represented here. Some of the work is so directly linked to the earth such as Joe Hogan's skibs, that they still retain the smell of willow and resonate with history.
Nicholas Mosse's spongeware - a practice where sponges are cut into intricate shapes - is a style developed from 19th century Irish country living, but its happy spontaneity brings colour and a fresh design to contemporary homes. Karen Morgan's porcelain is organic and contemporary, whilst other craft makers such as Lucinda Roberston have developed new skills abroad before returning to Ireland. Much of the work you will find on this site are simple objects and can be seen in many of the homes across Ireland in everyday use.
That is their proud charm - the functionality combined with a sensitivity of design - work that is hand-crafted, often one-off. Much of what is shown here make wonderful wedding, christening and anniversary presents or a unique and special gift gift to mark an occasion. Like so much craft you can always intuit and appreciate it so much better when the actual object is in your hand.
Having held all of these objects in mine, I endorse each of these makers completely as being justly able to say "I am of Ireland'.