In celebration of twenty-three years sustaining and nurturing creative Irish businesses, The Leitrim Design House National Design, Craft & Art Awards Event & Exhibition took place on Friday 11th August in The Dock Art Centre, Carrick-on-Shannon. This exciting event included National networking opportunities, presentations by shortlisted applicants and refreshments along with the awards presentation, followed by an exhibition of the shortlisted applicants’ pieces.
The Leitrim Design House issued an open call to makers, crafters, artists & designers from across the island of Ireland to respond to the theme of sustainability. The high number of quality submissions received is a testament to the immense skills & creative talent in Ireland today. A shortlist of ten makers were invited to exhibit their work and share presentations on their inspiration and processes behind the pieces as part of this event.
The exhibition of work was judged anonymously by five highly regarded industry professionals and experts including Eddie Shanahan, Design Consultant & Chairperson of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers; Rosemary Steen, CEO of the Design & Craft Council of Ireland; Eleanor Flegg, Craft & Design Journalist; Rhona McGrath, Roscommon Arts Officer and Joe Lowe, Chair of The Leitrim Design House Board and Head of Enterprise in Leitrim.
The first prize of €2,500 was presented Dundalk-based artist Tracy Fry for the best overall submission of her collagraph print plate entitled “Estuary,” a visual exploration of the area of the Shannon Estuary in Co. Clare affected by waste from Aughinish Alumina, the largest aluminium refinery in Europe. Tracy’s passion for environmental protection is clearly demonstrated across her work, as her collagraph plates depict many places facing ecological threat in the Irish landscape. Tracy will be invited for a solo exhibition at The Leitrim Design House in 2024.
“The piece is a collagraph print plate cut from waste board, card and vinyl to create a relief surface on recycled board which is then sealed in aluminium and painted. A coat of resin is applied to the surface to seal it. Aughinish Alumina sought permission in 2022 to expand its refining capacity of bauxite. The red mud ponds of these deposits can be seen on topographical maps of the area and are highlighted on my piece…. My piece highlights the Shannon estuary's vulnerability juxtaposed with its centrality as a confluence point of Ireland's largest river into which drains a complex network of waterways from two counties into the estuary and the turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean.” - Tracy Fry
A specially commended prize of €1,000 was awarded to runner up Connemara-based woodturner Richard West for his sycamore wooden bowl entitled 'Wave'.
“I recovered this piece of wood from road works carried out to build a new 'greenway' near where I live in Connemara. This greenway follows an old train line that amongst other things used to bring seafood products to market. I felt it was apt that the trees cleared could be reimagined to represent this history. This piece was turned on a lathe, the form being relatively simple yet technically very challenging. Finished with Danish oil and Canauba wax. My practice is using 'Found' wood, often dumped on the side of the road from building works, or storm felled trees from bad weather. Taking something that is considered a waste product & finding the beauty within is what I most enjoy.” – Richard West
These National awards celebrated excellence in design and artisanship and are born out of The Leitrim Design House continued sustainability as a business. The prizes and event were made possible with the great support of funders including the Local Enterprise Office, Leitrim and Creative Ireland under the Creative Economies Programme with support from the Leitrim Arts Office. Read more about the Design Awards here.