August Craft Month launched in UK City of Culture

August Craft Month has been launched for the first time in Derry/Londonderry with a superb new exhibition featuring original works by 38 of Ireland’s leading makers.

The theme of the annual celebration of craft is the ‘Culture of Making’ and it began fittingly in the UK City of Culture 2013 with the launch of CultureCraft at the new London Street Gallery.

It is Craft NI Chief Executive, Alan Kane’s first time in charge of August Craft Month, having taken up his post last September, and he is excited by developments in the Maiden City culminating in the launch of CultureCraft.

He said: “This is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious craft exhibitions ever to be staged in Northern Ireland and one of the hidden gems of this year’s City of Culture celebrations. I would urge everyone to come along and view the work of some of Ireland’s most outstanding designer makers.

“One of my main goals when taking over this post was to help create an infrastructure and a culture of collaboration where craft can grow and thrive in all parts of Northern Ireland. It is very inspiring to see how people are grasping the opportunity in Derry/Londonderry to develop the craft industry in this most important year for the city.”

Curated by contemporary jeweller and Derry native, Seliena Coyle, the CultureCraft exhibition is being exhibited in a beautiful new gallery in the city’s burgeoning Cathedral Quarter. It features work by such luminaries as Bangor-based ceramicist, Peter Meanley, Co Down Silversmith Cara Murphy, and Edinburgh-based, Coleraine born jeweller, Grainne Morton.

Seliena, who is based at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, asked Ireland’s leading contemporary makers to think about what culture means to them and to create an original piece for the exhibition.

She added: “People involved in craft will be surprised by this exhibition. Nothing of this standard in craft has ever happened before in the North West. It is going to be a real showcase for craft in Derry and hopefully will inspire and create an environment where contemporary craft will be embedded in the city.”

Noelle McAlinden, Arts Adviser for the Culture Company 2013, on behalf of the London Street Gallery, said.

“The Culture Company 2013 is delighted to host an exhibition of this calibre at The London St Gallery and continue to work closely with our creatives, Seliena Coyle , Craft NI , Inner City trust , Derry City Council and Ilex URC in creating conditions and supporting an evolving infrastructure where arts , culture and craft continue to flourish and grow. This is a high point in the Year as City of Culture and significant in the gallery’s programme of promoting the importance of authentic craft, highlighting the role of makers locally and internationally and specifically promoting the city as an evolving cultural capital for arts, culture and craft .”

Head of Visual Arts at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Suzanne Lyle said:

‘We have been supporting the wonderful work of Craft NI for a number of years through a variety of different funding programmes. We are delighted to see the festival spreading its wings and encompassing the work of makers and artists from across Northern Ireland. The month-long festival beautifully showcases the talent of our makers, many of whom incorporate cultural references and indigenous materials into their work. What a fitting and exciting way to represent local artistic talent and imagination.’

Culture is at the heart of all events during August Craft Month with a strong focus on how Northern Ireland’s top designer makers take inspiration from its rich and diverse history and traditions to produce work full of beauty, passion and imagination.

The UK City of Culture may be the hub for all things cultural this year, but during August Craft Month, there are exhibitions, workshops, talks happening in towns, cities and villages in every corner of Northern Ireland.

The launch of Craft NI’s new interactive Craft Map makes it easier than ever to visit an exhibition, participate in a workshop or listen to a talk in a gallery close to you. The map also lists the best places to buy high quality, handmade craft.

Other highlights of August Craft Month include:

  • Making It: An exhibition at the Craft NI Gallery in Waring Street August 2-30, featuring work from some of the top makers who have graduated from the Craft NI ‘Making It’ programme, including John McKeag, Adam Frew and Jude Cassidy.
  • Commercial Masterclasses – a series of key talks in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry by industry experts on the use of e-commerce and social media to develop successful craft businesses.
  • The Figure: Contemporary Irish Ceramic Sculpture exhibition at the Millennium Court, Portadown, August 9 to September 28, bringing together eight Irish artists working in ceramic sculpture.
  • Whispering Belfast: a new exhibition at the Ulster Museum from August 6-25,features a collection of puppets created by three community venues in Belfast through drama, story gathering and visual art.
  • The Market Place Theatre, Armagh features a series of workshops throughout the month, from lace-making, graffiti street art, wood-turning to Giant Animal Sculpture making.
  • The tenth year of the Craft Fest in the beautiful house and grounds of Castle Ward, August 9-11 includes exhibitions, workshops, demonstrations and a craft fair.
  • Craft Month at the Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra, August 7-21 includes craft trails, making harvest knots, folk dolls and pin hole cameras.
  • Creative Peninsula – the annual month long festival of craft on the beautiful Ards Peninsula, featuring workshops, exhibitions, and creative cycle and coach tours.

For full details of all August Craft Month events, visit the Craft NI website: and click on the August Craft Month section. To find out about all the makers and events in your area, click on the interactive craft map.