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The Irish Arts and Crafts Movement

Friday 28 April 2017, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm


S. Rosamond Praeger working on the decoration of the
façade of the Thomas Andrews/Titanic Memorial Hall


Dr Joseph McBrinn, Reader in design history at the Belfast School of Art, Ulster University, will present an illustrated lecture, Dreams and Responsibilities: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Ireland.

Many traditional crafts flourished throughout Ireland well into the nineteenth century. However, the national calamity of the mid-century Famine and the mass emigration it stimulated, as well as uneven industrial development and increasing religious and political sectarianism created a profound instability and long-lasting poverty that shocked even William Morris when he came to Ireland in 1877 and again in 1886. The Irish Arts and Crafts movement initially emerged under Morris’s influence but like other small nations on Europe’s peripheries (such as Poland, Hungary or Finland) Ireland’s struggle for self-determination, and ultimately modernization, was accompanied by a reinvestment in its folk and vernacular heritage.

This beautifully illustrated lecture will look at some of the key centres of Arts and Crafts activity in Ireland, such as the cities of Dublin, Cork and Belfast,major monuments to Arts and Crafts ideas, from the remarkable Honan Chapel in Cork and Loughrea Cathedral in Galway to the less well-known Thomas Andrews/Titanic Memorial Hall in Belfast, as well as key workshops.

Women who played a crucially important role in this movement includes Mabel Annesley, who left Ireland for New Zealand at the outbreak of the second World War. A selection of her woodcuts and linocuts are in Te Papa’s collection.

Dr. Joseph McBrinn is Reader in design history at Belfast School of Art of Ulster University. He previously taught at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin. Previous to this he studied and worked in Scotland and France.

He has written and lectured widely on Irish art, craft and design. He has written biographical studies of the Northern Irish artists Sophia Rosamond Praeger (1867-1954) and John Luke (1906-1975), and curated retrospective exhibitions of their work: in 2007 (for The Naughton Gallery, Queen’s University Belfast); and in 2012 (for the Ulster Museum/National Museums Northern Ireland) respectively.

He serves on the editorial board and editorial advisory boards of The Journal of Modern Craft, Textile: Cloth and Culture and The Irish Arts Review. His current research focuses on the intersection of masculinity and design with a particular interest in the First World War and interwar Britain.

Feature image: Seaghan Mac Cathmhaoil, Illustration of Thinkin’ Long folksong, from Songs from “The Four Winds of Eirinn (1906), Private Collection.


Friday 28 April 2017
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
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