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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1985

Crafts Council of Ireland Thomas Prior House Merrion Road Dublin 4

Telephone 680764 / 603070

70% SALES INCREASE Despite the snow and icy roads many hundreds of buyers still managed to battle their way to the 9th National Crafts Trade Fair. Added to them were the 290 buyers from U.S., Canada, U.K., Japan. Australia, France and five or six other European countries who made it the most successful fair yet. While there was little doubt that the dollar's high value was a major contributor to the 70% increase in orders over the 1984 level the overall level increased at a greater rate than the export level in percentage terms. In quality terms the fair was generally considered to be the best ever, with many foreign buyers commenting very favourably. Mr. Tony De Mazzi, editor of one of the major U.S. giftware magazines when asked for his comment on the fair said: "A plus in all departments". He also made the rather sad point that many of the large Dublin department stores he saw did not stock the top quality Irish merchandise available at the fair, something he found hard to understand. The final tally at the end of four days amounted to a highly satisfactory £5.65 million, with exports estimated at £3.1 million, a figure with which Coras Trachtala would be in general agreement. Quality was the hall mark, and the quality products seemed to be those in great demand. Analysis of all the results may show this healthy trend confirmed. Performance is now the prime concern of all agencies involved. With such enthusiastic buying it would amount to a major set back for all the effort that went into the Fair if those who took such good orders did not deliver promptly and efficiently. The cause of crafts and the future of many Craftsmen could depend on this aspect. It only needs a few irresponsible producers to undermine the whole effort and hopes of many.

The Minister of State and the Chairman of the Crafts Council at the Kilworth Craft Workshops stand with, left to right: Liz McCabe, Shirley Smith and Maxine Mearns.

carried out the commission and the depth and scope of its coverage of the craft industry. The financial pages of the Irish Independent, Irish Times and Irish Press all gave considerable coverage and comment to the report.

REPORT PRESENTED Commissioned by AnCO at the Crafts Council's request and undertaken by researcher Sean O Siochru "Report on Crafts in Ireland" was presented to the Minister of State at the Department of Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism, Mr. Eddie Collins T.D., at a press conference at Thomas Prior House on 9th January 1985. Receiving the Report, the Minister of State commented on the fact that it added significantly to knowledge of the industry and that its recommendations charted a way forward largely in accord with the Crafts Council's own five-year Strategic Plan, and he congratulated AnCO on the way in which it had

In the forword of the Report the Council Chairman, William Finlay summed up by writing: "In a sense, the Report puts it up to the Crafts Council to get on, as a matter of urgency, with a specified job which the.Council itself sign posted in its 'Strategy for the Crafts Sector 1985-1990', it must energetically accept responsibility for co-ordinating what needs to be done." A limited number of copies was printed initially and further copies will be made available in some weeks time at a price of £9.00.


MINISTER APPROVES SELECTION PROCEDURE Speaking at the opening of the National Crafts Trade Fair the Minster of State, Mr. Eddie Collins T.D. said: "One of the problems of the Crafts Industry here in the home market is that the general public perception of crafts activity is out of date. Many people who are not familiar with the strides made by our craft workers in recent years still think in terms of quaint wayside workshops in which talented amateurs are beavering away making leprechauns and thatched cottages for passing tourists. In fact craftwork has become relatively big business. The National Crafts Trade Fair is now regarded as one of the world's leading Craft Fairs. Its continuing success and expansion shows the remarkable growth that has taken place in the industry in recent years. This Fair is going to be bigger and better than previous events. As Minister for State with responsibility for the Crafts industry I am naturally gratified with the progress which is so clearly evident. I want to see that progress continue. That is why I want to sound a warning against any complacency. The nearer one gets to the top in any field, the tougher it gets. We will only maintain our progress by being prepared to analyse our performance quite thoroughly and by being ready to improve where improvement is called for and to adapt to changes in the market. That is one reason why

I wholeheartedly approve of the very stringent selection procedure employed by the Crafts Council. The result is that the quality of the goods displayed here at this Fair is of the highest standard. However, the same cannot be said of all our products. Study after study shows that it is the quality of the product and the standard of design that determines the commercial success of the product. Most of you will be aware of the AnCO Report 'Crafts in Ireland' published last week. One of the many notes of caution in that Report was in relation to the danger of over-reliance on the ethnic Irish side of the tourism market, especially the American tourism market. The same danger lies in concentrating on the traditional ethnic aspects in our crafts exports to North America. We must step up the effort to diversify our products and to expand into wider markets. We have the talent and the experience to do so. I know that once a craft worker has found a particular niche it is easier to concentrate on that. It may even appear safer to do so. In fact it is, in the longer term, a very risky policy to adopt. The reasons leading to success in one market can be short-term, for example, a favourable currency exchange rate. I would strongly urge that the flair and imagination so obvious here today be used to seek out new products and markets.

On the home market, links with business can provide outlets for well designed craft products given by companies as presentations and trophies. Interior design and the decorating of buildings can also provide new opportunities. Of course, no matter what the product, or where the outlet, the quality and the proper marketing of the product are all important. I want to compliment the Crafts Council on the growth and success of the industry. This exhibition is a testament to their dedication and effort. The Crafts Council recognises that the same basic criteria apply in the crafts field as apply in any other industry. If we are to realise the potential of the industry we must pay particular attention to the design of our products and to the training of those who make them. Long term success requires that everyone involved in the industry be committed to the pursuit of excellence."

I.D.A. AWARD FOR JERPOINT The I .D.A. Perpetual Trophy for the best product in the context of the National Crafts Trade Fair was won by Jerpoint Glass. It was a very popular decision as Keith Leadbetter has been deserving of this recognition for some time. The award will be presented at an official ceremony at a later stage.

COUNCIL STAND AWARDS Mr. Donal Gilligan, President of the Society of Designers in Ireland announced the jury's decision for the awards for the two best stands at the Trade Fair. These awards are judged in the context of a trade fair so that not only is the stand itself considered but also its contribution to selling the product. In addition the other factors such as demeanour of those on the stand, literature and price lists are all weighed up. The awards were for hard goods: Forde Crafts, makers of simulated stone carvings; and for soft goods: Dodder Crafts, producers of soft toys. Both will get a free stand at the 1986 Fair.

9th National Crafts Trade Fair


WOODTURNERS AT LETTERFRACK Michael Dickson, Antrim Woodturner, has sent the Newsletter the following account of the workshop/seminar held at Letterfrack in October at which David Ellsworth was the leading figure: Seventy woodturners, amateur and professional alike, together with students of Connemara West, were entertained by David Ellsworth, from Quakertown, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. and Michael O'Donnell from Caithness, Scotland on 6th and 7th of October last. David Ellsworth is undoubtedly the leading expert in the art of Turning Hollow Forms. These almost wafer thin forms are created from the most unlikely raw materials — burrs, root burrs, spalted wood — usually through a natural void about 1 " — 1 1 / 2 " diameter in the top, using highly personalised tools. The sheer magic of his creations was there for all to see during one of the slide presentations. He was most forthcoming and knowledgeable on the personalities and the state of the art in the U.S.A.

NATIONAL MUSEUM TEXTILE STUDY ROOM The Textile Study Room of the National Museum has been re-opened. The room will be of particular interest to those involved in design, textiles and embroidery as the material on display comes from many parts of the world and ranges in date from the third to the twentieth century. The earliest items there are the tapestries and embroideries of Egypt and Peru, but possibly the more spectacular are the lengths of fifteenth century Italian cut-pile velvets and sixteenth century Spanish applique on silk. The more important pieces though might be a seventeenth century Greek Church embroidery and a thirteenth century silk damask from Lucca, Italy. The former illustrating the Crucifixion, is worked in gold, silver and silk threads with the haloes of the saints in seed pearls. The silk damask is of international importance since it is believed that Lucca was the first north-Italian town to employ silkweavers after the Crusades. Previous to that silk was imported by Western Europe from the East and Middle East.

Detail of a cotton and linen fabric printed in purple by Robinson of Ball's Bridge, Dublin about 1785. National Museum Textile Study Room. Photo: N.M.I.

This piece is, therefore, one of the earliest silks made in Italy. Items of Irish interest include examples of embroidery and weaving from the seventeenth century and linen and printed linen from the eighteenth century. On display there also is a carpet loom, a replica of the small looms used in Killybegs when the carpet factory was opened in 1898. On the loom at present is a woven section of a hearth rug designed by Gerry Laverty for Donegal Carpets which shows the exceptional quality of their products. On temporary display in this room is the large wall-hanging in felt "mosaic" made by Stephen Stokes, which was the subject of an article by Mairead Reynolds in the Newsletter of November/December.

Michael O'Donnell, back for his second workshop/seminar is a Woodturners Woodturner. He spent hours involving those participating in his method of turning wet wood bowls with natural edges (i.e. bark intact). He really makes woodturning look easy. He showed examples of his latest work which he has developed with his wife Liz. Natural features of his platters are enhanced by carving and the merest suggestion of drawings to form images of Wild Birds. Their plumage in colour between the bowls' heart and sapwood. Difficult to describe but delightful to see. That such workshop/seminar benefits the overall standard of woodturning in I reland is only too evident as judged by the excellence of the pieces Guild Members had on view. There is nothing quite so telling as the criticism of a fellow woodturner and nothing quite so reassuring if he purchases a coveted piece from you. David Sloan Assistant Editor "Fine Woodworking" Magazine from Newtown, Connecticut, U.S.A. had high praise for the organisation of the event and undoubted benefit which all would derive from such an event. General Manager Kieran O'Donohue and the staff of Connemara West gave their wholehearted support to making the event a memorable one.


NOAH'S ARK The Belltable Arts Centre inr Limerick housed the Noah's Ark mixed media exhibition at the end of December and into mid-January. Seventeen craftsmen and women presented original works for this small but quality exhibition. A variety of media included hangings in rya and kelim, seiti dye painting, weaving, felt and handmade paper;.works were also contributed in pottery, wood, silver, patchwork and knitting. The Clare Craftworkers Association, organised and selected this interesting exhibition which was of particular value in that it drew from committed professionals new work directly related to the theme.

Right: Octupus. Ceramic by Max Halliday. Noah's Ark. Above: Jointed Lion and Elephant. Wood. By Caroline Egan. Noah's Ark.


Right: Magadalene Odundo at Max Halliday's Workshop, Ballycasey. Below: Ceramic bather - Fidelma Massey.


I.D.A. SMALL INDUSTRIES REGION ALISATION The regionalisation of I.D.A. Services to small industry will, by mid 1985, be extended to all regions with the exception of the mid-west and Gaeltacht areas which come under the aegis of Shannon Development and Udaras. The four operative regions from January 1985 will be Donegal, South East, South West and East (Dublin excluded). Staff have been moved from headquarters to provide regional services. In each region there will be a local Small Industries Board which can take decisions on grant aid for the area. It will mark a decentralisation of negotiating and grant approval, will improve the speed with which grants, once approved, are paid out, and there will be a much more personal approach than was hither to possible. The 1983/84 report on projects approved for the Cork area shows that some £200,000 has been approved for capital grants for craft or craft based small industries like pottery, leather working, jewellery, basket weaving, the inevitable cut crystal, knitwear and lampshades. £60,000 worth of training grants has been approved for some of these projects in the same period.

EXHIBITION The Butler Gallery at Kilkenny Castle held an interesting exhibition in December combining the batik talent of Peter Wenger with the unique sculptural talent of Marie Foley. Peter Wenger, has a very precise attitude to batik paintings, developed over many years, and he shows clearly in his work the degree to which the romantic atmosphere of the west of I reland can be linked to the true tradition of Javanese batik making and how well this eastern art form can be applied here. Marie Foley's delicate porcelain sculptures are an unique expression of the ethereal — fragile, almost intangible, yet with tensions of enormous potential for self destruction. There is nothing restful here, yet a sad wistfulness is always present as the clown face hides the reality. Marie Foley won the Crafts Council award for the best Irish crafts person under 30 at the 1982 International Ceramics exhibition in Cork. The jury's assessment of her talent has been well justified by her progress.

CHRISTMAS FAIRS Mansion House, Dublin, Spiddal, Waterford, Ballycasey, Arnotts in Dublin, The Tower at the Enterprise Centre, Newry Arts Centre — you name it and there was probably a preChristmas Craft Fair in operation. The big one in terms of turnover per stand over a short period was the Christmas Art, Craft and Design Fair, where the average price of products was relatively high and trade, generally, was good. It is hard to get away from the rather cramped look which a lot of exhibitors in not ideal space creates. But there would not be too many who were dissatisfied. The other major event in this field was the Irish Craft Fair at Arnotts in Henry Street, Dublin. Heavily promoted by the Irish Goods Council and, of course, by the exhibitors themselves who contributed a few hundred pounds apiece in lieu of space costs, there were 50 exhibitors some of them, indeed, enterprising enough to have a presence in the Mansion House affair also. Sales, again, were good, but the general impression was that the cheaper products sold better than the more expensive ones Udaras has a new craft centre as one comes into the Gaeltacht Village at Spiddal and it held its first craft fair there in the weeks running up to Christmas. On display were crafts ranging from turned wood to pottery and knitwear to silk screen prints. There was a shopping promotion at the Limerick Inn from December 14th to December 16th which was organised by craftworkers in the mid-West region. Over 40 firms were represented and the products on sale included patchwork, jewellery, lace, leatherwork, dolls, weaving, wooden toys and pottery. Down in Waterford the Minister of State Mr. Eddie Collins T.D., opened a Christmas Craft Fair promoted by the Junior Chamber of Commerce in the Garter Lane Art Centre from 15th to 21st December. The Tower Craft Guild operating out of the Enterprise Centre, Pearse Street, Dublin held an open weekend in early December which was well attended. Many of the members took part later in the month in the Mansion House, and Arnotts Fair. No doubt there were other published fairs at which craftsmen sold direct to the public in an effort to maintain their turnover and to maximise their share of the cake.

ROYAL HOSPITAL KILMAINHAM At the end of November, Minister of State for Arts and Culture, Mr. Ted Nealon T.D., announced details of plans for the future of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham at a reception in the newly restored building. As the Minister of State said: "It would not be too high a claim to suggest that this is Dublin s finest building; certainly it is in the first rank. It is one of Ireland's most important architectural treasures and would be entitled to a place among the foremost buildings of Europe. It is three hundred years old this year." The restoration of this magnificent building has taken five years and has been the largest restoration job carried out by the State, its restoration "an architectural triumph." Recommendations on the future use of the Royal Hospital were made by an Inter Departmental Committee, and submissions were invited from and made by many bodies including the Crafts Council of Ireland. The recommendations were developed into a report to the Government which was accepted and the plans may be summarised as follows: 1 The Royal Hospital will be generally accessible to the public and developed, with its grounds, as a major centre for culture and the arts. 2. The North Wing will be retained as an exhibit in its own right and for temporary exhibitions. It will be used by the State for some of its protocol functions. It will be available for letting for other suitable functions and will have its ancillary catering facilities promoted. 3. Most of the accommodation in the East, South and West Wings will be allocated to the National Museum. 4. Rooms on the second floor may be reserved at the discretion of the Taoiseach, for national cultural organisations or for small selfcontained Government agencies or commissions. 5. The advice of a leading exhibition and museum designer will be sought in relation to the design and content of the Museum displays. 6. An Advisory Committee will shortly be set up by the Taoiseach to act as an interim managerial authority and a manager will be appointed to administer and promote the Royal Hospital. The permanent management structure for the Royal Hospital will include the creation of a trust with charitable status.


7. The Office of Public Works will be responsible for the maintenance and repair of the Royal Hospital and for the fitting out of the buildings for Museum and other purposes. The Royal Hospital is our earliest public building. It was built between 1680 and 1684 to accommodate pensioner or infirm soldiers. The construction was initiated by James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond who obtained a royal charter from King Charles II to create a hospice for old soldiers similar to Louis XIV's Les Invalides in Paris. Although containing many similarities it preceded the Royal Hospital in Chelsea, designed by Christopher Wren and completed in 1686. "The Royal Hospital" said the Minister "will be a museum, but it will also be much more than that. It will be a centre for the living arts, for events and activities of all kinds. We mean to transform it into a living centre, into an exciting place where people will want to come, again and again."

KILSHANNIG CRAFT CENTRE A new craft centre has just been completed in County Cork and is now being made available to craftworkers. Kilshannig Craft Centre is located in the old church in Kilshannig Village, directly off the main Killamey road with Mallow 2 miles, Dromehane 2 miles and Cork 20 miles. The Church has been restored to an extremely high specification and comprises 6 self-contained units of 300-500 square feet. These units are plumbed, centrally heated, fully insulated, sound proofed, have good natural light and in the upstairs units have sprung floors, with one unit even containing a specimen stained glass window. Separate phone extensions can be installed in each unit and they can connect up for three phase electricity if needed. There is an exhibition/retail area of 1,000 square feet, which includes a coffee shop and a reception area. It is anticipated that the receptionist will be able to offer typing and secretarial facilities. Rent will be ÂŁ1.75 per sq. ft. plus service charge and will be eligible for I.D.A. grants. The original features of the building have been preserved, yet allowing for good natural light. Overall it is one of the most attractive centres yet completed. For further details contact either Michael O'Brien (022) 21123 or John McAleer(021) 26891.

Kilshannig Church restored top: ground floor bottom: upstairs


CANADIAN POTTER L E C T U R E S HERE

IRISH PATCHWORK SOCIETY CLASSES

Mathias Ostermann, the German born Canadian potter is to lecture in Ireland in the spring. He is coming to Europe to lecture t o , among others, the Craftsman Potters Association in London, and the Crafts Potters Society of Ireland will be his hosts here. The final date is to be agreed and announced.

February 23rd: Beginners Class in Cathedral Windows with teacher Rosemary McLoughlin. Speakers will be Alison Erridge and Michele Hughes.

The visit is made possible by courtesy of the Canadian Government. Mathias Ostermann began work as a production potter in Canada in 1972. He worked for a year as a full time thrower at Shanagarry Pottery in Cork in 1974.

V . A . T . DOWN A T LAST While it may not have gone as far as many craftsmen would have wished nevertheless the reduction of the top V.A.T. rate to 23% will be welcomed and should help to stimulate business this year.

March 23rd: Beginners Class in Log Cabin — speaker Patricia Jorgensen.

C R A F T POETRY A p r i l 27th: Beginners Class in Stained Glass — Speaker Ruth McDonnell. The Venue: Beechwood Avenue Community Centre, Ranelagh, Dublin (13 Bus). Each Beginners Class is complete.

The response was poor to the request for poems about crafts. One entry was more related to tradesmen than craftsmen. Lillias Mitchell sent in Yeats' Spring Song. She also sent a hand pulled rhymesheet with a poem illustrating weaver St. Anastasia's martyrdom, she being buried alive, staked to the ground in front of her loom.

Details: The Irish Patchwork Society. Since returning to Canada in 1975 he has been working as a full time independent production potter producing high fired domestic stoneware and porcelain. He has travelled extensively in mainland China, South Korea and Japan and also in Italy. He has had one man shows each year since 1980. His illustrated lecture will be wider than his own work and will include an extensive look at the contemporary Canadian ceramic scene. Details of the date, venue and other facts about this lecture from the Craft Potters Society of Ireland, 70 Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

KILKENNY DESIGN AWARDS 1985 The closing date for registration of 11th January was too late to interest readers. Of interest on a broader scale, the awards will be made to students aged between 19 and 28 on the results of a competition in which they will have to answer a specified brief in either industrial design, textiles, fashion, graphics or craft products. Up to eight awards will be made by a jury panel of independent designers chaired by Patrick Scott, and will consist of study awards for college fees and subsistence of up to £4,000, work experience awards for travel and subsistence of up to £2,500 and travel awards of up to £1,000 to permit visits to exhibitions, design studios and factories abroad.

To Lillias Mitchell, then, the small prize offered.

NATIONAL PATCHWORK EXHIBITION The Irish Patchwork Society, which is a member organisation of the Crafts Council, is to mount its second Exhibition of Quilts, Wallhangings and Clothing by members in-the Bank of Ireland Exhibition Hall, Baggot Street, Dublin from June 6th to 20th 1985. Entries must be in by 13th April accompanied by the official entry form and a £3 fee. Details from the Irish Patchwork Society.

IRISH WOODTURNERS IN ULSTER FOLK MUSEUM The Irish Woodturners Guild's first group exhibition planned for the Bank of Ireland in March has been changed to open now in the Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra, Co. Down on March 22nd. It is hoped that it will subsequently travel to other centres in the country.

WEAVERS

G

O D l o v e t h sinners, Dyers and spinners,

Weavers even M a y hope for Heaven. W h e n naught is left O f warp and weft,

TERRY O'FARRELL Irish ceramicist Terry O'Farrell, winner of the first prize of £1,500 and £500 Sculpture Award at the 1982 International Ceramics Exhibition in Cork was featured in a two man exhibiton in the Anatel Orient Gallery in London in January. She was exhibiting her new concepts in ceramic wall panels.

ADVERTISEMENT FOR S A L E : Brand new Glimakra standard countermarch loom. 1.500 m. wide, 8 shaft, double back beam. All accessories and bench. Phone: (021) 821689 after 6 p.m.

W i t h spindle and loom T h e y w i l l meet their D o o m ; T h e Lamb's w h i t e fleece Has bought their peace. MUSEUM B O O K L E T Available now from the National Museum is a booklet entitled "Some Irish Fashions and Fabrics". This booklet, price £1.50, is intended principally for students of Irish costume, textiles and design. Dresses illustrated range in date from that owned by Wolfe Tone's mother to one made and embroidered by the Dun Emer Guild in the 1920s.

CCI-newsletter-1985-49-January-February  

In quality terms the fair was generally considered to be the best ever, with many foreign buyers commenting very favourably. Mr. Tony De Maz...

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