The Maker's Tools

Alongside working on my first collection of handwoven textiles, I have been fitting in some projects with local museums over the past year. I recently had the opportunity to coordinate an exhibition for Fermanagh County Museum, showcasing contemporary craft by selected artists and craftspeople based in Fermanagh, Leitrim and Monaghan, alongside traditional crafted objects from the museum's collection.

The concept for the 'In the Making' exhibition was inspired by the work of folklorist and artist, the late Johnny McKeagney, who had a life passion for collecting local histories and recording traditional crafts. Inspired by Johnny's mesmerizing drawings of 'The Coachbuilder's Workshop', I visited some of the local craftspeople who were taking part in the exhibition, to photograph their tools and workspaces. We displayed some of these images alongside prints of Johnny McKeagney's drawings on the exhibition walls.

It was intriguing to see inside other maker's spaces and get an insight into the myriad of tools they use! 

From top to bottom, images from the studios of: Fiona Kerr JewelleryAnn McNulty PotteryDesign Onion (Ronan Lowery), O'Brien Willowcraft (Tom O'Brien), Wove in Hove (Louise Hardman), Ernestone (Michael Hoy). Many thanks to the makers for giving me a glimpse into their spaces!

Also exhibiting were: Brigitta Varadi, David Cousley, Jonathan Ball, Mulholland Jewellery (Fiona Mulholland), Peter Fulop, Ruth Duignan, Séamus Dunbar and Simon Carman

We asked the artists and makers how their work is inspired by, or contrasts with the traditional materials and techniques associated with their discipline, and used their replies in the labels for their pieces on display. 

My early reliance on hand tools out of necessity, has now become a reliance on them out of choice. They allow me to get close to my work, make the shapes and marks I want, and to push myself.
— David Cousley, woodworker

Johnny McKeagney's wonderful drawings can be found in his book, In the Auld Ago. 'In the Making' is on display at The Higher Bridges Gallery at The Clinton Centre, Enniskillen, until 19th September 2015. The exhibition was supported by Northern Ireland Museums Council through its Community Engagement Initiative.