I am of Ireland is now four years old and grew up in response to the exceptional work of craft makers and artists in Ireland. Many of whom capture within their work aspects of Irish culture and landscape, where mountains looms large and purple, the sea shifts from slate grey to shimmering turquoise, grass fires up from the ground in vibrant greens and giant ferns bow down at roadsides. Artists and makers consciously or unconsciously encapsulate the colours, tones, light, forms, often the very air of the environments in which they work. Meanwhile the wind and rain taps out rhythms that are as much from the past as the present summoning the country’s history which is given emotional resonance in the work of artists such as Maria Simmonds Gooding.
The most pronounced change that has happened in Irish craft over the past two decades is that it has been brought out of those remote rural workshops and presented to the wider world, and acknowledged for the startling work it often is. It goes to international art fairs, comprises parts of national collections, is represented in galleries and makers are periodically featured in articles and magazines not least of which is ‘How to Spend It’, a colour supplement of the Financial Times. But in all this movement, whether in traditional or contemporary design practices this body of Irish craft somehow retains its sense of place, the timeless qualities of the landscape within which it is produced. The collection of craft presented through I am of Ireland is a journey of place emanating through the work of the makers represented here. Some of the work is so directly linked to the earth such as skibs by Eamon Tobin, that they still retain the smell of willow and resonate with history.
Nicholas Mosse’s spongeware, a practice where sponges are cut from into intricate shapes, is a style developed from 19th century Irish country living, but its happy spontaneity brings colour and a fresh design to contemporary homes. Other craft makers such as Lucinda Robertson have developed new skills abroad before returning to Ireland. Much of the work you will find on this site are simple objects and can be seen in many of the homes across Ireland in everyday use. That is their proud charm, the functionality combined with a sensitivity of design, work that is hand-crafted, often one-off. Much of what is shown here make wonderful wedding, christening and anniversary presents or a unique and special gifts given to mark an occasion. Like so much craft and art you can always intuit and appreciate it so much better when the actual thing is in your hand. Having held all these objects in their hand, I am of Ireland endorses every one as being justly able to say ‘I am of Ireland.