Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Glass Runway: Fashion designers and glass artists across Ireland join forces to create extraordinary work

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Fashion designers and glass artists North and South of the Border have combined forces for an innovative initiative – the first of its kind in Ireland – called The Glass Runway exhibition. A collaboration between the Glass Society of Ireland and the Council of Irish Fashion Designers, it is aimed at addressing gender equality, diversity and inclusion through exploring glass as a wearable material. Twenty glass artists and fashion designers are showing collaborative and individual pieces that include glass bags, millinery, dresses and jewellery.

Róisín de Buitléar, chair of the Glass Society of Ireland (who once designed glass platters inspired by linen) and Eddie Shanahan, chairperson of the Council of Irish Fashion Designers, describe the project as invaluable for stretching the imagination of the designers and exposing them to new materials and craft techniques.

Fashion designer Helen Hayes was one of the first to explore glass in her work when she collaborated with glass artist Laura Quinn during lockdown for a dress that featured a collar made from glass rods. As part of the exhibition, she has teamed up with glass artist Killian Schurmann (son of artist Gerda Frömel) for a black top and skirt accessorised with a glass cocoon bag. The bag is shown bursting open, forcing its frame and its contents apart in a reference to the term “everyone has baggage”.

De Buitléar teamed up with fashion designer Sarah Ward-Hendry for an item called Perpetual Offender which consists of a short dress made from leather clasped with glass drops, a glass collar and bag. The combination creates a layered armour effect, a symbolic representation of how women subconsciously wear layers of defence.

Silvana Landa McAdam, known for her leather bags, and glass artist Eleanor Jane McCartney created a glass version of one of Landa’s best sellers. The unisex crossbody bag is made using recycled glass and the piece uses transparency as a metaphor for transparency in gender pay and disparity within the fashion industry.

Northern Irish glass artist Alison Lowry and fashion designer Sarah Foy worked together on a design called Laoch, the Irish for warrior. Drawing from traditional male suits of armour, the intention is for the piece to be worn over a gender-neutral strapless wedding gown. Offcuts of Irish tweed and organic cotton were used by Ejay Griffin and glass artist Angela Brady for a dress embellished with glass ornaments and 13 ladder charms around the waist, representing the “steps on the ladder” women take to break through the glass ceiling.

Others presenting individual pieces include neckpieces by Ruzica Ruane and Maggie Napier, one in a soda lime glass, the other a large wearable tribal style necklace with 54 talismanic “eye” beads. Ana Surdu’s All Caps is a piece of glass jewellery with glass letters made from bullseye scraps of glass cut and stacked in layers to be fused together.

Meadhbh McIlgorm’s Bound to Break design is centred around roses and concepts of restraint and bondage, with glass roses in padded silk cuffs, while Helen Hancock’s Ancient Arrivals rings are made in recycled handblown glass and repurposed silver. Sara O’Neill, the creative force behind Eadach, limited edition prints inspired by her grandmother’s stories and the Irish landscape, was a special guest and launched the official opening of the exhibition on June 4th.

All the pieces are made using sustainable materials and production processes. The exhibition runs in Craft NI Gallery Belfast until July 25th, after which it is hoped to present it in a location in the Republic.

For more information visit exhibitions.craftni.org

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