The work of local craft makers will be showcased on a global stage as organisers of August Craft Month prepare to host a series of virtual events to celebrate just some of the outstanding work that goes on throughout Northern Ireland.
With internationally-recognised maker talks, behind the scenes studio tours and maker clips, August Craft Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the local artists, designers and makers who all invest so much effort into growing the craft sector across Northern Ireland.
In addition to the digital events, which include a webinar series with some of the leading names in the craft world, there will be a special exhibition at Craft NI’s gallery throughout August and September.
With August Craft Month taking place against a backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, Northern Ireland’s craft makers have submitted works which were inspired by the lockdown period for the ‘Unlocked’ exhibition.
August Craft Month is coordinated by Craft NI on behalf of the craft sector and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Craft NI Director, Katherine McDonald said: “This is the 14th annual August Craft Month and with everything that is going on in the world at present it will certainly be the most unique.
“The craft community has not been immune to the effects of the pandemic, with retailers having to close temporarily and fairs and markets suspended. So this made us more determined than ever that we continue to raise the profile of Northern Ireland makers and their beautiful work through August Craft Month. We are so delighted by the range and quality of the pieces submitted for the exhibition.
“August Craft Month will have a different feel this year with many of our events taking place online, but we are excited by the prospects of having a worldwide audience.
“It is the perfect opportunity to showcase to the world the exciting work which is taking place in Northern Ireland across a wide range of craft disciplines. With both live and digital events it has never been easier to enjoy our programme and engage with the craft community.
“We are excited about the immersive programme we have put together and we can’t wait to join with our makers and guests for another wonderful August Craft Month.”
Highlights of August Craft Month 2020 include:
- The Unlocked Exhibition taking place at Craft NI’s gallery on Royal Avenue, Belfast will showcase pieces of work by local makers inspired by the recent lockdown. The exhibition will run throughout August and September and an expert panel of judges including Audrey Whitty, Head of Collections and Learning of the National Museum of Ireland and Kim Mawhinney, Senior Curator of Art at National Museums NI and Board Member of Craft NI will select a winning submission.
- Craft in Conversation. This weekly webinar series will be hosted by BBC Radio Ulster’s Culture Cafe presenter and one of the best-known voices for the Arts in Northern Ireland, Marie-Louise Muir. Marie-Louise will be in conversation with leading figures within the craft world. The series will feature Glenn Adamson, a curator and writer who is currently Senior Scholar at the Yale Centre for British Art and Kate Malone, the London-based ceramic artist who was recently a judge on the BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down with Sara Cox. The series will end with a discussion on how craft businesses can bounce back through the pandemic – Bill and Chrstine Steenson established the successful Steensons jewellers in Belfast and Glenarm and will talk about business resilience during challenging times.
- Behind the Scenes Studio Tours. New for 2020, this video series, which will be hosted on Facebook, is an opportunity to draw back the curtain and explore the workshops of four expert craft makers. You will find out what inspires them, their approach to their work and also get a chance to see them work in their own studios and workshops. The series focusses on Benefield Spencer Glass, Derek Wilson Ceramics, Cara Murphy Silversmith and Adam Frew Ceramics.
Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: “The Arts Council is delighted to support this wonderful celebration of craft, which offers an important platform to showcase the talent of our local craft makers, bringing great art to all.
“We are excited by the opportunities this year’s online series of events will present in showcasing craft in Northern Ireland to a worldwide audience.”
August Craft Month also provides a network for makers and the public to meet, share and collaborate. Each event showcases the excellence and diversity of craft in Northern Ireland. The programme provides a fantastic opportunity for everyone to make, see, learn about and buy craft.
With a focus on digital platforms running throughout this year’s event, organisers are hopeful that more makers can embrace online sales.
Katherine McDonald added: “We have seen over the past number of months how people are more and more comfortable with online shopping. With August Craft Month reaching an international audience this year, it is a perfect opportunity for our makers, who do not already have an online presence, to develop their e-commerce activities.”
For more information on the events across Northern Ireland, visit www.craftni.org/augustcraftmonth or follow Craft NI on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can share your own craft stories with #augcraft #supportnicraft