New exhibition provides a boost for innovative makers

By March 10, 2015Creative Industries, Newsroom

The artistic creations of nine designer makers who have just completed Craft NI’s unique Innovation Boost Programme is on display at Bangor’s North Down Museum.

The fascinating new exhibition from March 7-13 features the work of established ceramicists, glass makers, textile artists and stone carvers and jewellery designers.

With support from the Creative Industries Innovation Fund, this new programme launched in October to develop the work of makers who have been in business for five years or more and were looking for a fresh creative impetus.

The exhibition, which showcases three examples of each makers’ work, has been curated by Robert Martin, Director of R-Space contemporary gallery in Lisburn.

He said: “It is all about reflecting the changes that this programme has had on the work of each maker. People will find this exhibition an interesting and engaging statement on the creative process and how an artist’s work is constantly evolving.”

Each of the makers have been working with a mentor to look afresh at their work in a bid to develop new products or re-design some of their existing products to make them more contemporary and commercial.

Alan Kane, Chief Executive of Craft NI, said: “The Innovation Boost programme has enabled local designer-makers to take a step back and look at their work with the help of their mentors. The exhibition is an exciting opportunity to see how this process has encouraged innovation, fresh thinking and new directions.

“In some cases the makers have been developing new work, and in others it has been more of a business exercise, improving their brand and presence on social media.

Sheena Devitt is one of the nine artists and makers whose work has taken a dramatic change thanks to Craft NI’s Innovation Boost Programme.

The Killinchy-based stone carver was mentored by ceramicists Claire and Karen Gibson of Red Earth Designs and has begun using porcelain to create a completely new look to her work.

“It’s a fantastic programme. I have formed a great relationship with my two mentors and getting time out to experiment is such a luxury when everybody’s busy doing commissions and working to deadlines.

“Sometimes the best ideas come out of creative play but within a very specific technical boundary. We are making porcelain casts of my stone carvings , which captures the original quality of my work but produces something for a completely different market.”

Lorraine McDowell, Director of Operations, Arts Council of Northern Ireland: “The Arts Council of Northern applauds Craft NI on the development of this innovative initiative which offers Designers Makers the opportunity for mentorship and professional development.  At the Arts Council we seek to put our support firmly behind local artists and designers helping them develop their creative ideas into commercial success and we wish all involved every success with the Innovation Boost Programme.”

The Craft NI Innovation Boost Exhibition runs from March 7-13 at North Down Museum. For more information go to