Next month Derry will be embracing all things crafty as the city’s CultureCraft legacy programme gets into full swing, welcoming some of the biggest international artists for a celebration of making which aims to firmly establish the city’s position as an exciting and vibrant craft hub.
Heading up the second phase of the programme, which launched in 2013 with the hugely successful CultureCraft Exhibition in the London Street Gallery, is local craft artist Seliena Coyle, who is working with Derry City Council to change traditional perceptions and drive the local industry forward.
The CultureCraft programme aims to engage local craft makers, community groups, and the general public through its four main strands and challenge people’s ideas of craft as an artform, as Seliena explained.
“I first became engaged with the Craft Connects programme after Helen Quigley and the Inner City Trust first took up the mantle of growing the craft network in the city.
“Working with Deirdre O’Callaghan at Docpot and Suzanne Woods who started the Craft Collective in the Craft Village I then came on board in 2013 as a curator for the CultureCraft - Craft in the Making project.
“As a brand I wanted to build on the foundations already established by events such as CultureTech and also reflecting the strong grounding in the year of Culture - so that was where CultureCraft emerged.
“We held a highly successful exhibition as part of the City of Culture programme featuring 38 artists and a series of extremely popular master classes.
“My hope now is to further that success by extending the craft infrastructure for Derry and the North West and establishing the city not only as a significant craft destination in Ireland, but also internationally as well.
”One of the most exciting aspects of the August programme is a residency by American artist Boris Bally, whose edgy upcycled urban artworks are internationally acclaimed.
“Local groups will work alongside Bally to produce a number of pieces which will be gifted to the city.
“Boris’s work is very visual and appealing as it’s so urban in its focus and the street furniture will be something that the public can take ownership of as a project.
“Many people would not be aware that these pieces of public art fall under the umbrella of craft, so it really challenges people’s perceptions.”
Running at the same time as the residency will be a special exhibition with the theme Reclaim, Repurpose, featuring the work of some of the most innovative and pioneering craft artists from across the world.
“I think it’s so important that we strive for the very best in our approach to craft, and that we secure artists of the very highest calibre,” Seliena insists.
“I think the exhibition really reflects this with artists such as David Clarke and Bettina Speckner, whose works really push the boundaries of craft.
“Their fascinating pieces are definitely not what people would expect from traditional craft makers.
“We will also be hosting a series of master-classes being held in the Craft Village and NW Regional College, which are attracting significant craft artists to the city from far and wide - from Denmark to Cork.
“And of course there is the physical legacy which is associated with the two venues being used to facilitate the workshops at the 4Rs Recycling Centre and the North West Regional College.
“The 4Rs Recycling Centre will see a serious upgrade in equipment and it is hoped that it will continue its commitment to the craft legacy in the long-term, by providing facilities for craft makers.
“Likewise the North West Regional College will be receiving jewellery making equipment which will allow them to continue to teach students.
“I think it’s vital that we strive to achieve new heights by attending to all angles and recognising the potential for Derry to become a real hub for international crafts.
“Turner ended up in Derry - not just because of the City of Culture status - but because of individuals like Declan McGonagle, and those behind the Void Gallery and the Orchard Gallery, who for years have had a vision and commitment to the visual arts in this city. That is what I hope we can aspire to in our realisation of a craft legacy for Derry.”
To find out more about the full CultureCraft programme and the participating artists check out the website www.culturecraft.co.uk