I was delighted to welcome Minister Humphreys to Swallow Studios where she saw first hand a living craft. The Minister saw how inspiration is gleaned from a painting and interpreted into a scarf, wrap or snood. I have been working as an artist, textile designer and hand-weaver for over twenty years and I feel as passionate about my work as ever. My goal…..to make a living from my creativity and retain the heritage of an age old craft from the past by generating export sales and creating sustainable jobs for the future.
The light filled studio was full of colour, from the beautiful vibrant wool to the multi-coloured handwoven scarves and wraps. My team were present and each met the Minister whose friendly manner put everyone at ease. Minister Humpheys’ genuine interest in my work was very apparent and added to the jovial mood of her visit which was a great boost to morale. The Minister was completely captivated by the intricacies of the processes and the wonderful array of colour. ‘Liz Christy’ branding features purple which has the shortest light wave; it evokes spiritual thinking and mediation and is the colour of royalty, luxury, authenticity, truth and fine qualities. Purple will usually feature in my work and if not in the body of the work itself, it is always there in the final touch of the label and gift packaging.
The Minister also loved the sheep brooches and key-rings from the LizzyC Gift Collection which she immediately recognised from seeing them in shops at Dublin Airport. These sheep are well travelled…. and are regularly spotted at locations all over Ireland, from the Giants Causeway to Sheep’s Head in West Cork not to mention their global travels.
Minister Humphreys was very supportive of the fact that we are keeping alive the culture of making a living from craft, retaining a heritage and age old skill of hand-weaving as well as producing wearable works of art inspired by art. I remain true to the Heritage of hand-weaving and work on a wooden looms powered only by human strength, to make scarves, wraps and snoods. The Minister explained that there are plans afoot to develop a heritage trail throughout the region and that Swallow Studios was exactly the type of living, vibrant, heritage venture that they wanted on the trail, a place where people could come and see at first hand an age old craft yielding quality products.
As a person who always wears scarves herself, Minister Humphreys, believes that colourful scarves can lift any outfit. So it was very appropriate to present her with a beautiful pink and grey scarf from the ‘Renaissance’ Collection. Woven from merino wool and silk, the scarf was inspired by the tradition of lace-making in Co. Monaghan both in Clones and in Carrickmacross.
Minster Humphreys said that it was great to see a product that reflected the heritage and culture of the local area and that this is what people abroad were really interested in.
“ When you see Fifth Avenue in New York closed off for a St. Patrick’s Day Parade, on an ordinary shopping day, you begin to understand how Americans really appreciate and respect the culture of Ireland”, said Minister Humphreys.
The Minister also met Batik Artist, Louise Loughman, who also works in Swallow Studios. This ancient art form of batik uses hot wax to create images on fabric. Louise studied Art and Textile design in Galway with me, where she specialised in surface and printed textile design. She now has her own artisan business creating original wall hangings and pictures in silk using the technique of batik and silk painting. Minister Humphreys was stunned by the beauty of Louise’s work and how it can bring to life the great mythologies of our heritage. And she was also very impressed by her long list of public art commissions and presentations.
The Minister stayed for tea and more lively conversation which everyone enjoyed. On departing Swallow Studios, Minister Humphreys stated that our work would make ideal gifts for her visits abroad, as ultimately they reflect the heritage, art and culture of Ireland.” I thanked the Minister for taking the time out from her busy schedule to visit Swallow Studios and it was a pleasure to meet her.