July 18, 2024
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Kilkenny-based Design & Crafts Council Ireland unveils exciting new projects to help people ‘get creative’ under Covid

Many of Ireland’s craftspeople and makers are bringing their talents into homes and communities across the country as part of an inspirational nationwide campaign unveiled by Kilkenny-based Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI).

A giant glass quilt ‘sewn together’ by makers across the country, community benches forged by blacksmiths and online workshops for children and adults are just some of the creative projects inspired by the Government’s ‘Keep Well’ campaign.

The projects are the result of an innovative Sláintecare-funded collaboration between the DCCI and Healthy Ireland. As part of the Government’s Plan for Living with Covid-19the DCCI is focusing on the campaign’s strand ‘Switching off and Being Creative’. This programme encourages people at home to switch off, get creative and learn something new. It offers people of all ages and abilities an opportunity to engage with free creative activities that are all designed to promote wellbeing and resilience as the country copes with life under the Covid-19 restrictions.

Funding has been allocated to nine creative projects involving DCCI guilds, associations, networks and societies (GANS) which will be developed between now and April. These include:

*Online workshops operated by the Irish Patchwork Society to teach people patchwork and quilting;
*Members of the Irish Artist Blacksmiths Association from across the county are coming together to forge a bench that will be donated to a residential care unit;
*Glass Society of Ireland members are coming together to make a giant glass quilt made from several individual glass patches ‘sewn together’ in a collaborative glass installation. The Society is also hosting a series of online workshops from community leaders, inspiring artists to make individual responses using innovative new techniques and ideas;
*Zoom courses introducing people to the wonderful craft of wet felting run by Cork Craft & Design;
*Headford Lace Project: DCCI craft maker Kilkee Forge is constructing a beautiful metal bench based on the design of Headford Lace. The bench will be installed at a prominent location in the county Galway town, providing a beautiful space for the community to switch off and relax. The bench will also provide a focus for the ‘Lacemaker’s Shoes’ walking tours, encouraging people to get out and immerse themselves in the town’s lace making heritage and to stimulate their own creativity;
*Feltmakers Ireland are hosting a series of three online tutorials to members of the public, with participants contributing to a stained glass inspired felt piece to submit to the Evie and Us exhibition;
*Cork Textiles Network are running a series of online stitch-based workshops, providing a relaxing virtual get together for students in the Cork area;
*The Quilters Guild of Ireland is engaging with quilters and members of their friends and family to make quilts to benefit projects that support women and promote mental health;
*Benchspace Cork CLG are hosting innovative online workshops for children in which they create their very own ‘Spoony’ characters out of wooden spoons. These online workshops will provide a creative and inspirational space for kids to interact with each other and tutors in a safe, supervised environment.

DCCI Chief Executive Rosemary Steen said: “The ‘Keep Well’ campaign is all about helping individuals and communities to stay healthy and well. Now more than ever, it’s important for your wellbeing to find new ideas that connect with your creative side and bring your imagination to life.

“Through our various programmes, we understand first-hand the impact that creativity through craft and design has on the overall wellbeing of citizens in our communities both at local and national level. The ‘Keep Well’ campaign helps us to provide vital opportunities for public engagement with DCCI Members and Membership organisations through education and outreach.”

Minister of State for the Department of Health, with responsibility for Public Health, Well Being and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan, said: “Switching Off and Being Creative is one of the main pillars of the Healthy Ireland ‘Keep Well’ campaign. These creative submissions by craftspeople and makers from across the county and a wide range of disciplines goes to the core of the ‘Keep Well’ campaign.

“During these times, it is vital that we do everything we can to stay healthy and active. All of these projects offer people hugely positive engagement with diverse artistic activities. There is growing evidence that creative activities can help lift our mood and to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

“I encourage as many people as possible to take part and engage with these projects over the coming weeks and months. I commend all those involved for the creative resilience they have shown during these difficult times.”

PHOTO CAPTION: Liesa O’Keeffe of Liese O’Keeffe Alterations and her daughter Isobel (13) practice some knitting therapy at their home in county Kilkenny. The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland this week announced many of Ireland’s makers and designers will be bringing their talents directly into homes and communities across the country as part of the Healthy Ireland ‘Keep Well’ campaign. 
Photo – Dylan Vaughan

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