‘Spring Collectors’ Showcase’| 23 May 2023 – 20 July 2023
‘Spring Collectors’ Showcase’ was a unique exhibition of one-of-a-kind pieces made by some of the most established designer-makers in Northern Ireland. The exhibition gave the public a rare opportunity to view and acquire work from silversmith Cara Murphy, renowned for her beautifully enamelled silver bowls, woodturner Mark Hanvey as he unveiled his new ‘Graft’ pieces, or new glass work by Andrea Spencer and Scott Benefield. New or award-winning designs by Patricia Millar, John McKeag, Peter Meanley, Alison Lowry, David Cousley, John Piekaar, Sarah Cathers, Michael Moore, Chris McHugh, Anna Smyth to name but a few made this event a perfect occasion to start (or add to) a cherished craft collection from local artists.
Jewellery got a special spotlight: Egle Banyte showed her Wave brooch, inspired by North European aesthetics; forward-thinking Anne Earls Boylan exhibited her new SLS colourful 3D print designs; and Celine Traynor took us on a time travel journey with her ‘Golden Years’ piece, a kinetic pendant made up of 24 ever increasing rings that represent the 24 years that she lived in her house on Canal Street, Newry, before it was sold.
The works, spanning across different craft disciplines, varied mediums and concepts, will give the public a thorough understanding, and hopefully a new appreciation of the talent, craftsmanship and skill available in Northern Ireland.
‘Collectibles and Curiosities’ Exhibition | 10 November 2022 – 30 December 2022
“Collectible and Curious”, two words that describe the history of our obsession with jewellery, precious materials and objects that tell stories about who we are and how we see ourselves.
For this exhibition, the Association of Contemporary Jewellers and Silversmiths NI brought together 18 contemporary jewellers and silversmiths from all over the world. Each piece related to the theme “Collectibles and Curiosities” representing a wide range of narratives and cultures.
The diverse approaches to the brief showed not only technical precision and a dynamic use of materials, they also reflected the makers’ artistry as storytellers. Jewellery is a statement to both challenge and delight; Collectible & Curious!
‘Paper Magic’ Exhibition | 22 September 2022 – 29 October 2022
The ‘Paper Magic’ exhibition focused on the medium of paper, one of the oldest and most familiar materials known to man, and its hidden potential of transformation. Through their artful mastery of skills such as cutting, pulping, folding, oiling and collaging, five talented makers revealed the magical properties of paper in this unique group show.
Exhibiting makers: Sue Cathcart, Jayne Cherry, Susan McKeever, Adele Pound, Emma Whitehead.
‘August Craft Month Showcase’ Exhibition | 11 August 2022 – 15 September 2022
The ‘August Craft Month Showcase’ exhibition, which takes place every year at Craft NI Gallery, is one of the most important highlights of August Craft Month, a unique event which features some of the best contemporary Northern Irish craft.
The 2022 winners were selected by Daniella Wells, the exhibition’s guest curator and prize judge. With over 20 years’ experience in the art market, Daniella is also a market consultant for the UK Crafts Council’s prestigious Collect annual craft fair. At the opening night of the exhibition, Daniella spoke about the joys and satisfactions of collecting craft and the important role of collectors in supporting a strong and varied craft sector.
Exhibitors: the 2022 exhibition showed works from Andrea Spencer, Anne Butler, Gail Kelly, Jakki Trainor, Leanne McCormack, Michael Moore, Patricia Millar, Rory Shearer, Scott Benefield, Shauna McCann, Sarah Cathers, Stuart Cairns and Sue Cathcart.
‘Wool Works’ | 7 July 2022 – 5 August 2022
‘Wool Works’, an exhibition of contemporary textile design, feaured innovative work from Welsh, Finnish and Northern Irish textile artists, who have been working together since 2001.
Spearheaded by co. Down textile expert professor Jane McCann, the exhibition’s focus was wool and the way traditional motifs and techniques can be reinterpreted in a contemporary setting, embracing links between the cultural heritages of Wales, Ireland and Finland. The exhibits include unique hand-woven tapestries, woollen blankets, framed textile art, one-of-a-kind accessories and garments such as Irish style workwear jackets or house coats (with some of these unique pieces available for sale), and highlight techniques such as felting, free stitching, digital embroidery, knitting, hand weaving and plant dying.
‘Peter Meanley: New Works’ | 5 May 2022 – 11 June 2022
‘Peter Meanley: New Works’ featured new works by renowned salt glaze potter Peter Meanley, which he had developed over the last three years. Peter Meanley has won international acclaim for his abstract spouted pouring vessels and his mastery of the salt glazing technique. Formerly Head of Ceramics at the University of Ulster in Belfast, Peter has been awarded a PhD for researching salt glazing in 1999.
Peter’s work initially consisted of strikingly engineered teapots and other functional forms. In time, his focus and never tiring curiosity for the world around him and its possibilities led him to make new forms that can ‘contain liquid’ and can be used to pour from. Apart from his spouted pouring vessels, the exhibition showed Peter’s puzzle jugs. A technically complex piece, the puzzle jug has a perforated collar, making it impossible to pour from, unless the drinker knows there is a hole, or number of holes which they must cover with their fingers, to allow the liquid to flow without spilling. The puzzle jugs were Peter’s lockdown project which he found inspiration for in the early medieval puzzle jugs which served not so much as a drinking tool but as a drinking game (a well-known example of this puzzle jugs is the Exeter Jug, which dates back to 1300 AD).
‘Curved with intent’ | 3 February 2022 – 27 March 2022
Craft NI were delighted to welcome the public to ‘Curved with intent’, an exhibition of contemporary design in wood.
Wood as a construction material and man have had a very long relationship – not surprising since it is so extraordinarily versatile. The ability to create curved forms in wood is an example of its extreme adaptability to different needs and types of objects and construction, and it perfectly illustrated the theme of the exhibition – gentle and purposeful mastery that transforms a simple organic material into beautiful and/or functional craft objects.
Wood can be shaped in many ways, and the work displayed in the exhibition demonstrated both a variety of objects and methods, including carving, turning, laminating, steam bending and cutting from solid.
Each participating designer-maker spoke through their work to the audience of their own particular relationship with the material: the shapes they produced were more or less practically and/or aesthetically purposed. They were very deliberately envisaged – they were curved with intent.
‘The Gift – as Heirloom | 18 November 2021 – 24 December 2021
CRAFT NI were delighted to welcome ACJ NI to Craft NI Gallery for a second Christmas jewellery selling show. ACJNI brought the most accomplished new work from nine of their members and associates who are practising contemporary jewellers in Northern Ireland. The selected makers created neckpieces and earrings in response to the title of The Gift inspired by Lewis Hyde’s book of the same title.
Jewellery has a strong association with being gifted, usually as an act of love, devotion, or a memento to mark an occasion. It carries deep personal stories and powerful narratives that connect us through generations and time – an heirloom. The exhibition represented the richness of approaches and a diversity of materials, skilfully combined to create meaningful stories about our culture and values.
Participating jewellers were: Anne Earls Boylan, Jill Graham, Cameron & Breen, Clodagh Molloy, Lotus de Wit, Fiona Kerr, Camilla Prey, Eddie Doherty and Celine Traynor.
‘Shuttles & Shafts’ | 14 October 2021 – 11 November 2021
Craft NI were delighted to present the ‘Shuttles and Shafts’ exhibition, a visual journey into the archives of one of Northern Ireland’s most prominent linen manufacturers and an insight into the work of the design partnership that have brought some of their classic patterns into the 21st century.
Previously suppliers to the Ritz and the White Star Line, glass design plates from the Ewart-Lidell Mill in Co. Down, were donated to Belfast School of Art. Senior Research Fellow, Trish Belford and Professor of Design Barbara Dass have preserved, catalogued and digitised the plates for future generations.
Their Heritage Lottery funded project Reviving William Liddell’s Damask Designs preserved a unique collection of 1600 photographic glass plates discovered in 2007 when the Ewart-Liddell linen factory at Donacloney, Co Down was dismantled. Their initial research was exhibited at Lisburn Museum during the inaugural NI Linen Biennale in 2018, and the resulting contemporary textiles are now in production at William Clark and Sons of Upperlands.
‘ARRIVAL’ Exhibition | 9 September 2021 – 7 October 2021
In partnership with Ulster University and curated by Kim Mawhinney, Senior Curator of Art, Ulster Museum, Craft NI were delighted to present ‘ARRIVAL’, an exhibition showing the work of the Ceramics, Jewellery and Silversmithing Graduates of 2021.
The work selected presented a range of pieces including functional, non-functional, figurative and abstract works across a breadth of materials, exploring a range of concepts, skills and processes which range from hand building to the use of haptic software. The participating graduates were: Becca Cunningham, Jemma Knox, Erin Calvert, Joel Smyth, Rheia Bogle, Saorla Ní Chearúllain, Sorcha Groocock, Tracey Johnston and Leesa Espener.
‘RE-New’ Exhibition | 2 August 2021 – 3 September 2021
‘RE-New’, Craft NI’s annual August Craft Month Exhibition at Craft NI Gallery, celebrated the work of Northern Ireland’s makers. As we looked at the year ahead we wanted to celebrate a sense of renewal, so makers were invited to reflect on the theme ‘RE-New’. Submitted work was directly inspired by the theme itself, work taking the makers craft practice in a new direction, or existing work the makers wanted to showcase as part of our reopening, renewal celebration.
Launchpad Exhibition | 24 June 2021 – 22 July 2021
The Launchpad exhibition featured work from the four participants in Craft NI’s professional Development Programme, Launchpad 2020-21: Anne Butler (Ceramics), Anna Smyth (Ceramics), Claire Skelton (Jewellery and Metals) and Claire Mooney (Jewellery and Metals). The Craft NI programme was developed with funding from Arts Council of Northern Ireland to support makers through training and mentoring in developing their craft practice.
Emerging Talent | 17 May 2021 – 17 June 2021
In partnership with Ulster University and curated by Kim Mawhinney, Senior Curator of Art, Ulster Museum, we were delighted to present the work of the Ceramics, Jewellery and Silversmithing Graduates of 2020. The work selected presented a range of works including functional, non-functional, figurative and abstract works across a breadth of materials, exploring a range of concepts, skills and processes.
PINNED | 2 November 2020 – 2 January 2021
Craft NI was delighted to host the first group exhibition from the Association for Contemporary Jewellers and Silversmiths NI (ACJNI) from 2 November 2020 to 2 January 2021. Pinned presented the work of 23 local jewellers and silversmiths who have each responded to the exhibition’s theme to produce one-of-a-kind pieces beyond the scope of their usual commission or production work.
The exhibition featured over 50 variations on the idea of a brooch, with versions in both precious and non-precious materials. Traditionally set stones contrast with re-purposed vintage tins and toys, precision geometry meets abstract forms. Gold, silver and gemstones sit alongside found objects in unexpected interpretations that demonstrate technical accomplishment, innovation and creativity.
Perfectly timed ahead of an extraordinary Christmas season 2020, all the works were for sale. With prices starting under £70, the show offered a wonderful opportunity to select a unique piece and support a local business.
UNLOCKED – Opening Friday 7 August 2020
Taking centre stage in August Craft Month 2020, this exhibition showcased the work of makers currently practicing in Northern Ireland and NI makers working elsewhere. The selected craft pieces were created in response to the theme ‘Unlocked’. Makers were asked to exhibit work created during the pandemic lockdown; or as a wider interpretation of the theme ‘Unlocked’.
Due to the year’s circumstances, there was no public exhibition launch – but instead we went digital! This online video recording of ‘Unlocked’ was useful for those who couldn’t visit the gallery, allowing them to view the exhibition from the comfort of their own home.
Bernadette Tuite – ceramics and glass, exhibited in ‘Unlocked’ for August Craft Month 2020 to represent Cork Craft and Design and NI’s own Claire Mooney – silversmith had been selected to exhibit her work with Cork Craft and Design in partnership with August Craft Month and Cork Craft Month.
‘Unlocked’ exhibition opened on Friday 7 August 2020 in Craft NI Gallery: 115-119 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1FF. Opening hours: 10:30am to 5:30pm, Monday to Saturday, showing work from twenty talented Northern Ireland makers across a range of disciplines.