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MARCH/APRIL 1986

Crafts Council of Ireland Thomas Prior House Merrion Road Dublin 4

Telephone 680764 / 603070

CREATIVE THINKING KEY TO QUALITY

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Mr Eddie Collins TD, Minister of State at the Department of Industry and Commerce, opening the exhibition "Burren Impact," spoke of the Burren being not only a botanists' and archaeologist's paradise, but also one for craftsmen as evidenced by the exhibition.

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"The craftworker is part of Ireland's history and tradition," said Mr Collins, "and is both a preserver and an interpreter of a national heritage and a cultural richness that is known throughout the world. Nowhere in Ireland is that tradition and cultural richness more evident than in the Burren area of Co. Clare. "The first Burren Workshop was held in 1982 in Ballyvaughan; the motivating force then, as now, the Crafts Council of Ireland's Vice Chairman, Alison Erridge and the Clare Craftworkers Association, with some help from the Crafts Council. The idea behind it was, in a sense, to get back to basics, to paper and pencil, crayon or brush. In a very intensive week participants were able to take a fresh look at their work getting from that unique landscape new visions and new ideas which would lead eventually to new directions in design. "The third Burren Workshop, of which this exhibition is the culmination, took place last September. The scale of the workshop was enlarged in that it became a craft design and product development programme covering textiles and pottery. There was external training funding by AnCO Continued on back page

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BURREN IMPACT Above, Burren Bui! by Peter Wolstenholme. Below, Square dish by Geoffrey Healy. Photos E F Sutton.


KILWORTH 4 IN UK The successful exhibition of the work of graduates of the first four years of the Kilworth Craft Workshops which has been shown in Cork, Dublin and Ballycasey was on show recently in London. Commencing during the St Patrick's Day week at the Waterman's Art Centre in Brentford, kindly sponsored by the Federation of Irish Societies in UK, an exhibition of this quality took many of the Irish community by surprise as hitherto they had, seemingly, been more used to a diet of leprecaunary and the more traditional cliches in Irish crafts. Full marks therefore to John Fahy, Secretary of the Federation, for raising the level and for creating the opportunity to show what, though small, is a worthwhile exhibition of good work and accessible. The comments at the exhibition were mainly of some delight at finding out that Ireland did have craft products of top series production or one-offs of good quality yet reasonably priced. The most noted comment was "we didn't know Ireland made things like this — where are the Arans, the crochet, the things we always seem to see." Kilworth 4 opened in Ireland House, CTT's London Offices and Showrooms in New Bond Street on 2 April. Speaking at the opening in London Justin Keating said that the Exhibition was in a symbolic sense, important. "The reason is that the thing we celebrate, through the Kilworth 4 Exhibition, is the Kilworth Craft Workshops. The people, the skills, the spirit and the relationships that they have built up in a short time are, in my view, extremely important, culturally, economically and socially. "Kilworth is a small village in North Cork, set in lovely rich countryside close to the legendary River Blackwater. It used to be a place where stage coaches stopped on the Dublin-Cork road, but now the main route passes it by, to its gain, I must say. There the old Market House has become the home of the Kilworth Craft Workshops, the result of a remarkable 3-way cooperation, between the Crafts Council of Ireland, AnCO and the local Community Council." The idea, he suggested, was a simple one, Kilworth Craft Workshops being a step in the development of the

artist-craftworker, inserted between the end of their period of study or apprenticeship and the setting up by the particular individual of their own independent place of work. "What is shown here today is an exhibition of the first four years of development at Kilworth, done by the twenty-nine young people who have worked there during that period. The range of craftwork comprises most of the major disciplines. It is for you to judge the beauty and the quality. In my view the standards are extremely high. They are a part in fact of a remarkable silent revolution which has been taking place in Irish culture. "We are seen worldwide as a people possessed of a remarkable culture, but principally in the fields of words and music. In the past, we sang, in the fullest sense of that word, with extraordinary force and beauty, but often to make reality go away, or to try to change it without working. But historically, and with honourable exceptions, architecture and all the plastic and graphic arts were less good. I think word and music arts are still exceedingly strong in Ireland and getting more so. But now our spectrum of cultural activity is becoming more complete. Beautiful houses and public buildings and vastly better cooking are part of a renaissance. "In areas and disciplines where the old folk tradition of craft skills had not fully died out a very extraordinary growth of the artist-craftworker is occuring, building on old foundations, to be sure, but in breaking down the barrier between art and craft, and in the range and force and vitality and quality of their work, doing something very new, very important and largely unnoticed. "It is to redress that latter omission, the relative unawareness of this great upsurge, both within and outside Ireland, that Kilworth 4 has come to London." Justin Keating pointed out that fine art and applied art formed a continuum. "Economically in time of recession the craft workshop is a source of a livelihood at very low capital cost, it is a source of immense added value, and, while no one suggests that the craft movement can make a central contribution to the economic success of a society, it can be the means of revitalising individual communities which we would be much the poorer for losing. But the

most important argument relates not to the craftsperson or the individual supportive community. The most important argument relates to us, the consumers of the beautiful things that craftworkers produce. "Alienation is one of the greatest ills of our world. The best personal antidote is to live with objects which result from the loving committed work of one particular human being, working in an individual and personal style, working in a particular place (preferably a beautiful place like Kilworth), objects which bear the marks of one individual indentifiable human hand, on one particular day. Objects, in short, of human dimension, containing human effort and passion are an important way of keeping us human. "When compared to what we have grown blase about paying for motor cars or hi-fi, craft objects are very cheap indeed, and in our topsy-turvy world the artists who make them are willing to live very simply. "I suggest that we have a desperate need to live among such things and to rear our children among such things. I suggest that they are part of the cure for alienation. I suggest that any serious strategy for personal survival in a mad world must include the habit of buying and keeping and using the objects produced by artistcraftworkers." Those present at the opening included representatives from the Irish Embassy, CTT, IDA, the Royal College of Art, the UK Crafts Council present and previous Directors and, as well as home pregs, Cork Examiner and Irish Press, the media included the Daily Telegraph, The Listener, Good Housekeeping, Woman, etc.

County Wexford Near Wexford Town 18th Century Enclosed Stable Yard To be let in 8 Craft Units For information Tel: 053-22779

Irish Spinners Ltd. Kirtimagh, Co. Mayo Pure new wool bainin and coloured hand knitting yarns.

Telephone (094) 81156


BURREN IMPACT Hanging. Painted wool twill by Alison Wootten. Photo E F Sutton

MUSEUMS AND THE CRAFTS by Michael Robinson When the Victoria and Albert Museum was founded one of its prime aims was..."to encourage and support art and industry by collecting and presenting the best of the old and the new." It thus declared quite clearly that it saw its role as a promoter of the present and as a stimulus to the living. The permanent collections of many museums these days, however, could give the impression that the overriding aim is to concentrate collecting and research energies on the past to the exclusion of a present which can be left to its own devices until such time as it may be comfortably studied without presenting too many of its own dilemmas. Apart from the fact that this is always a safer way of collecting, hindsight being more reliable than speculative or anticipatory selection, such activities can be defended on the grounds that the past is a type of cultural crisis area disappearing into the hands of private collectors, investors and foreigners faster than we can record it. After all there are Arts Councils and Arts Centres to arrange exhibitions of the living and Crafts Councils and Small Business Units and the like to offer them material support and assistance, so surely museums can be left to further their monastic researches into a gloriously receding past and to promote the contributions made by deceased worthies into a history we interpret to suit ourselves. No! This must not be allowed to happen either by default on the part of curators unaware of their own time and its contribution to a history in which museums play a most critical and significant role, or by their controlling bodies who may see the museums as no more than object memory banks of past glories. The encouragement and support of art and industry is, if anything, more important today than it was in a Victorian world of expansionism on all fronts, almost unlimited capital, boundless optimism, incredible inventiveness and virtuoso craftsmanship. continued in next'page BURREN IMPACT Inside the Abbey. Ceramic by Peter Wolstenholme. Photo E F Sutton


The artist/designer/craftsmen of today are making a contribution to our time that suffers greatly from a lack of public awareness and recognition. The public long used to being catered for by mass production methods do not have the opportunity to make selections from all the possibilities available because retail outlets, including art galleries, rarely show what is happening in the crafts. This is sad because, contrary to widely expressed opinions, the public do identify with the things they live with and use and yet little is done to foster and develop their responses. There is practically no informed criticism or assessment of craft activity, and those conscious of it, whilst bewailing the lack of good contemporary studiomade goods on the market, can be over critical of the work that doe's appear. There may be nothing good to say about the tasteless, tawdry rubbish that fills so many of the "craft shops" strewing our tourist routes, but we must encourage those who strive to attain standards in what is a bleak and hard world where a meagre living may be the only measure of success. Can museums play an active role in the encouragement and stimulation of art and what can be small scale industry and do it in a way that is seen clearly as a museum initiative rather than that of an Arts/Crafts Council? That distinction must be recognised. Museums are primarily collection-based with a commitment to collect, conserve and study of at least equal priority to that of exhibiting or presentation by other means. They do devote considerable energy to exhibitions but with the accent on permanent or semi足 permanent displays rather than the constantly changing Arts/Crafts Council programmes of exhibitions. An Arts/Crafts Council usually has a brief covering a specific geographical area and, whilst it may present exhibitions from outside that area, cosmopolitanism is not always represented in its own collections. Museums need not be bound by this rule. Their collections are historically inspired and an essential foreign influence and stimulation does require representation. This is very important. If we are to encourage, and promote, particularly in the initial stages of development, examples of standards and concepts should be selected on their own merit, not simply because of local allegiance. Whilst concentration on the purely local may be a historical necessity it can be a retarding blight on a contemporary commitment. Junk is junk no matter where it is made and

complacency does not merit stimulation. The pursuit of excellence should be our aim, and we must recognise that this has nothing to do with xenophabic and geographical hangups or ideas of artistic apartheid. Today in a museum sense this is particularly true, things have changed enormously since the Victoria and Albert Museum opened its doors. Then we saw ourselves as the very peak of human endeavour and achievement, our technological skills unrivalled and our ability to replicate the dexterity of the past as a stimulating and novel challenge The museum was an engaging curiocabinet of the antique, the strange and the quaint. Foreign skills in time as well as space could be regarded as ingenious, fascinating and complex, yet despite their mystique there was an implicit inferiority compared to the modern. With the decline of those imperialist values, recognition of the dehumanising elements in industrial production and the declining standards in so many areas of craftsmanship caused us to search most seriously amongst the quaintly foreign and the ancient for the secrets and the skills we had lost or abandoned. The museum became and educational aid of tremendous significance, its contents the inspiration and criteria for awakening standards, and the search for those standards has made us drop all concepts of our own local superiority, internationalism is one of the basic factors in contemporary arts and crafts and one can no longer talk of definable national or local styles when the individuals working in a particular area discover their reference sources from a world-history relating to several millennia. Museums, whether they like it or not, as public collections, particularly of the modern, are seen as providing a seal of approval. Representation in them is a recognition of qualitative contribution to culture and progress, and the lack of representation of the crafts in their collections is frequently not just a sad indication of the lack of awareness of their merit, it is an abysmal failure to communicate to the public what in fact is the best of the new as well as the old. Particularly sad when the new is frequently better than the old. Having outlined what museums should be doing and why they should be doing it, one realises how simple that is compared to the grim reality of how they set about doing it. I do not know of a museum these days that, realising the necessity to change or

modify its policies, has the financial backing and fluidity to effect those changes. Governments generally are prepared to talk of the viability of small scale industry and commission fact-finding tours to record and repeat their conclusions. They even fund various organisations to study and encourage craftsmen and are occasionally prepared to encourage them as employers. However, nothing is done to open already existing markets to them and museums are given no support whatsoever to collect those works that we have every right to be proud of as well as every obligation to be supporting. Perhaps museums should be seeking closer links with the economic development units of their equivalents. Maybe craftsmen should be willing to donate their best works to museums. One thing is certain and vital, and that is that museums should be doing something that very few of them are: collecting the best of the new as well as the old, and actively supporting and encouraging art and industry by presenting those collections to the communities they serve. Michael Robinson is the Curator of Decorative Arts at the Ulster Museum.

L E T T E R TO T H E EDITOR Dear Editor, I would like very much to thank all the craftworkers who participated in the National Crafts Trade Fair for their very beautiful and most generous present. It would be impossible to thank everyone individually so I would like to take this opportunity to convey my grateful thanks through the Newsletter. I do not want to mention companies or individuals, but I understand that Lily Van Oost was the craftworker who managed to "coax" you all into subscribing to my wonderful gift. I thank each and everyone of you very very much. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Frank and the Secretariat for a most successful Fair. A lot of work goes into making the Fair so successful. I am sure I speak on behalf of you all. I will continue to act on your behalf as your elected representative on the Management Committee for the next two years. Once again, thank you all very much. Sincerely Blanaid (Reddin) 6 March 1986


WHO WANTS A CRAFT GALLERY? The Clare Craftworkers Association thinks that craftsmen do. It has arranged a full programme of exhibitions in its Ballycasey unit up to next January in the hope that it will be supported by craftsmen nationwide. All exhibitions are juried and conditions are simple, clear and inexpensive. If we are ever to have a healthy one-off buying sector, if we are ever to have a gallery of our own in Dublin, then we must start now — getting used to producing work to deadlines, learning to sell, educating the public and compiling figures and statistics to impress the funding bodies. Shannon is a good selling area. Ballycasey has a good throughput of people. The Gallery is white painted, well-lit and heated. The Clare Craftworkers Association is prepared to organise and run the programme. Please support it. Within the programme there should be scope for everyone to send us something. Collection points are: Crafts Council, Dublin '2 days earlier, please) and Ballycasey. Entry Fee 50p per exhibitor 'NOT per item) plus 10p in the £1 after the first £5 sold. Each exhibitor must include s.a.e. with entries or we will not inform. The Gallery is itself insured, but items exhibited are not — this is the exhibitors responsibility. We propose to try to be open 10 am — 5 pm Monday to Saturday 2 pm — 5 pm Sunday We will keep duplicates for you if there is a likelihood of several sales of one item. We are prepared to provide information on workshop/studio location/hours ranges in response to interested enquiries. We can't handle any but the most urgent phone calls and will charge for these. We cannot be responsible for collecting or returning goods but can collect and return to the Crafts Council of Ireland, Thomas Prior House, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. (Please deliver early). You must collect goods within our opening hours and we cannot allow a residue of uncollected work to build up. We will charge for reminders to collect and will dispose of uncollected work after 8 weeks. Ring me, Alison Erridge, at 061-71343 before 9.45 am or after 6 pm for information.

BURREN IMPACT Waterfall Cushion, silk embroidery. One of a cascade of 32 by Alison Erridge. Photo E F Sutton. MAY 3-31. Clare Craftworkers Spring Exhibition (with Woodturners?) Work to Ballycasey by 30 April. Take Away — 1 to 6 June. JUNE 7-28. Blue and White Theme Exhibition. Work to Ballycasey by 5 June. Take Away — 29 June to 4 July.

by 4 September. Take Away — 28 September to 3 October. OCTOBER 4-25. Craftsmen? Draughtsmen! Theme Exhibition. Work to Ballycasey by 2 October. Take Away — 26 to 31 October. NOVEMBER 1-22. Winter Woollies Theme Exhibition. Work to Ballycasey by 30 October. Take Away — 23 to 28 November.

JULY 5-26. Teapots Theme Exhibition. Work to Ballycasey by 3 July. Take Away — 27 July to 1 August.

NOVEMBER 29-DECEMBER 24. Clare Craftworkers Christmas Exhibition 'with another organisation). Work to Ballycasey by 27 November. Take Away — 27 December to 2 January.

AUGUST 2-30. Clare Craftworkers Summer Exhibition (with Spinners, Weavers & Dyers?) Work to Ballycasey by 31 July. Take Away — 31 August to 5 September.

JANUARY 3-31. "On behalf of this Company." Presentation Pieces Theme Exhibition. Work to Ballycasey by 31 December. Take Away — 1 to 5 January.

SEPTEMBER 6-27. Ringing Ears Theme Exhibition. Work to Ballycasey

FEBRUARY/MARCH/APRIL. To be arranged.


The artist Lily Van Oost became an Irish citizen in 1985. To mark the occasion, she decided to present one of her works to the National Museum. The work, a woven wall-hanging entitled "Brian Boru's Coat" featured in Ms Van Oost's recent exhibition of wall-hangings and weavings in the Taylor Gallery. The Minister of State for Arts and Culture, Mr Ted Nealon, TD formally accepted the work from Ms Van Oost, at the National Museum. Thanking Ms Van Oost, the Minister said, "On behalf of the National Museum, I am very happy to accept this most generous gift. As a very fine example of contemporary weaving, it is a welcome addition to the Irish Textiles Collection." Lily Van Oost delivering the gift to Ihe Museum. Photo: NMI

US CRAFT BUYER ATTITUDES Store owners from the United States are convinced that Irish suppliers have very little understanding of the differences between the Irish and US market. In particular, they believe that Irish suppliers are misled by their observations of what sells to Americans in this country. Store owners in the US are more reliant on the general mainstream of American purchasers buying products for everyday use or to enhance their homes. Their customers are highly demanding. The message these store keepers would wish to impart to their Irish suppliers is a need to educate themselves on the basic differences in the market environment. The emphasis must be on quality above all else. This is one of the major findings which emerged from recently conducted research by CTT at the 10th National Craft Fair in Dublin. This Fair attracts a large number of buyers from the United States and a decision was taken to attempt to utilise the fact that a broad cross section of key purchasers were available in one centre at the same time to sample their attitudes towards recent and likely future developments within their market sector. CTT commissioned a Dublin based research firm, Behaviour and Attitudes Marketing Research to conduct qualitative group discussions with buyers on each of three successive days during the Trade Fair.

American buyers are beginning to see major shifts in their own business A move away from reliance on giftware towards a greater interest in fashion items; Coupled with this a growing interest in shopping around and in particular examining alternative sources of supply like Scotland and Wales; In the clothing area, sweaters are particularly important at present. Here, Irish products are failing to match competition. In one traditional field — tweeds, there is a strong feeling that this sector is in decline and appealing perhaps to an older age group; In both these sectors, sweaters and tweeds, buyers see a requirement for a shift in emphasis towards newer lightweight materials and lighter colours. They feel it would be possible to maintain an ethnic feel but to update the products in this way; In regard to the Fair itself, the general feeling is that the fashion

and clothing area has become so important to these buyers that it forms a natural part of their interest areas during their visit; Treatment of clothing and fashion items at present is not totally satisfactory from their point of view. Many American buyers would welcome the introduction of a form of fashion show. This would serve the dual purpose of exhibiting clothing items in a more attractive way while at the same time helping to educate them in an area of their business which they feel slightly "at a loss." CTT has published a full report on the basis of this research. The report examines in more detail the views of buyers in relation to their customer base, the reaction to Irish suppliers and their perceptions of developments in key merchandise areas. Their views on pricing, competition, the Fair itself and the problems of dealings with Irish suppliers are also presented. The report entitled "American Craft Buyers Attitudes" is available from CTT, priced IRE25.00.


CTT W O R K S H O P S The first two of the current CTT craft workshops have been held in Dublin and Tralee. A further two of these will be held, one in Limerick on 29 April and one in Cork on 1 May. After the summer break, three further workshops will be held in Galway (13 October), Sligo (15 October) and Dublin (16 October). The workshops will follow the formula already successfully used — that of a morning session with speakers from the Crafts Council, from important retailers both home and overseas, and from a buyer for a major US group — each stressing what is required of producers if they are to succeed in developing markets. Quite a lot of emphasis will be laid on preparation for trade fairs, in particular the Council's National Crafts Trade Fair.

into a series of meetings on a one-toone basis between participants and speakers

RDS C R A F T S AWARD A new award of £250 will be included among the special prizes in the forthcoming 1986 Crafts Competition. It will be awarded for work of outstanding merit to a craftworker who is aged under 25 years on Friday 11 July 1986. The award is being donated by Mrs Dorothy Brooks in

WANTED Second-Hand Counter Marche Loom 4 or 8 Shafts 160 cm {64 inches) Phone 021-41791 (Between 6-7 pm) Jane Sorenson POTTER required for studio workshop Phone 093-24192

The afternoon session is broken down

At this instant somewhere overseas there may be an individual who seeks to import the very product you manufacture. What is his name? Where is he from? Is he a reliable trading partner? More importantly how do you contact him? Obviously, travel overseas is one sure way of securing new con­ tracts. However, many Irish Exporters are now too busy keeping their operation ticking over on the home front to engage themselves in such frequent globe-trotting ventures to locate potential markets. Fortunately, Bank of Ireland International Banking Division have a unique means of further assisting you with your export promo­ tion. The Trade Services section of this division is operated by highly skilled and efficient professionals who are in a position to locate new markets for those contemplating entering the export field. They can also expand existing markets for those already actively involved in trading overseas. Bank of Ireland International Banking Division has many agents in many countries. Taking their branch networks into account, this gives us vast outlets through which the Trade Services section can seek out untapped markets to promote an Irish product. It is through the medium of these correspondent banks that we endeavour to locate your new prospective trading partners. This service is devised to boost Irish Exports and is provided at absolutely no cost to you. If interested, please complete and return the coupon below. We shall then be in a position to initiate a TRADE ENQUIRY on your behalf. X

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Bank (fIreland Trade Services Marketing Section International Banking Division Your Company Name: Address: Tel./Telex No Export Manager: Full Details of Product: Please indicate desired outlet:

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memory of her late husband, Mr Philip T Brooks, who was a member of the Society's Council and for many years Chairman of its Crafts Committee. Details of the RDS Crafts Competition will be available from The Arts Administrator, Royal Dublin Society, at the end of April 1986.

FOR S A L E Lover spinning wheel and accessories Natural dye stuffs and wool fleeces Supplied by Mary O'Rourke Glenasmole Dublin 24 Taylor Metal Spinning Lathe Phone 01-945613 HAND-SPUN WOOL Shade card from Curlew Designs, Boyle Co. Roscommon Tel: Elaine 079-62579

Bank cfIreland INTERNATIONAL BANKING DIVISION OVERSEAS TRADE P R O M O T I O N SERVICE

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When trading internationally it is of paramount importance to assess the creditworthiness of the foreign parties. When we locate a prospective trading partner for one of our clients, we always ensure that an accompanying favourable status report on the foreign!concern is provided. Confidential status reports on companies or individuals at home and abroad are provided by us regardless of whether you h?ve availed of our TRADE ENQUIRY service already mentioned. Any request for a status report of this nature must be directed through your bankers. Trade Services also assist by providing advice, guidance and information on many regulations which influence international bus­ iness. For example, what are the exchange control regulations that effect the speed and ease of payments? What are the import regula­ tions, customs tariffs, correct shipping documentation etc. required? An exporter knows that a superior product, excellent marketing skills and advanced technology are not the only factors which ensure him of a high success rate in a competitive world. Even iden­ tification of the right trading partner is not sufficient. A basic know­ ledge of the economic intricacies and business climate prevailing in each national market to which he intends exporting to is also a vital factor in assuring his overall success. The Trade Services team take pride in being able to help expor­ ters identify possible new outlets for their products, checking out the creditworthiness of potential foreign clients and supplying gen­ eral, financial and economic information on the countries where the market is located.


which enabled three internationally recognised craft workers to be included as workshop leaders. "A precondition for participants at this workshop, as with the previous workshops, was production of new work for exhibition within six months. Once again the intensive magic of the Burren has worked and we have here this evening 151 works by twenty-one professional craftworkers including the three leaders. The works exhibited mark a step forward from the design position of the craftworkers before September last. While some of this has been subtle and seemingly minimal it has in other cases been dramatic. It has in all cases been progressive. "The works here are, of course, mostly unique one-off pieces. This is a stage in the design process. Just as the haute couture fashions are the basis of later production models so also these works will in turn advance the design process for crafts. Unless we have this creative thinking and design progress we cannot hope to keep in the forefront of the commercial race for the production of quality products. "I thank everyone involved with the organisation of the exhibition and I hope that the skill, imagination and initiative shown by exhibitors here this evening will long continue to expand and enrich our craft industry." BURREN IMPACT Photos E F Sutton Below, Cinninia. Ceramic/embroidery by Grainne Corcoran Watts.

Above, montage. Pastel/fabric/crayon by Lucy Erridge.

Below, Landscape platter by Stoneware Jackson.

CCI-newsletter-1986-56-March-April  

MARCH/APRIL 1986 "The third Burren Workshop, of which this exhibition is the culmination, took place last September. The scale of the worksh...

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