The work of textile artist Raychel Murphy from Ballybofey in Donegal perfectly sums up hilarious aspects of modern Irish culture — our unique ways of talking about each other in charming and simultaneously judgemental language. In the piece pictured above, you can see gems like, “always had a bit of a thing for Dermot” and “has to be a blood diamond the size of it,” which you can imagine hearing in hushed tones down the back of a church as the bride and groom say their vows.
Raychel incorporates these gas yet all too familiar phrases into embroidery work to bring a refreshing take to a traditional craft, earning herself a valuable award at the Design and Craft Council’s Future Makers Awards. Here she talks about how much this award of €1,500 will benefit her as an emerging artist, the inspiration she takes from Irish people, and how it feels to be part of Ireland’s craft community.
How does it feel to receive the Craft Skills Award?
To try and put into words, it feels like a universal nod of approval from the craft and design industry. There's a lovely feeling of reassurance, all those crazy ideas I doodled in the development stages have led to this amazing award, it definitely spurs you on to keep progressing and creating. There is something really special about winning such a prize on your home turf as well, you could exhibit and receive praise all over the world, but I think it will always mean the most coming from your home crowd.
How will you use this funding?
The Craft Skills award came at a really crucial time in my design career, and it makes me all the more grateful for it. I've been given the chance to intern with my absolute dream company, Hand & Lock, London. They have designed and produced the industry's finest embroidery for 250 years so this prize is literally keeping my dream alive by giving me the means to travel, enjoy and learn as much as I can from this amazing opportunity. In this line of work, you never stop learning new things, so it's important to keep moving as the technology and techniques move and progress, this prize will also contribute to sampling new concepts and products so stay tuned!
Can you explain your inspirations?
It's taken me years to really fine tune the answer to this question, even just in my own head. I used to believe my inspiration came from anywhere and anything, but I think at the core of it all, it comes down to people. Their histories, their futures, depths, dynamics, characteristics, all of it. This particular piece of work turned in to an ode to Irish people and their unfailing sense of humour and unique narrative. Human rituals and relationships really inspire me as well, you'd be amazed at the inspiration I'll walk away with after a family gathering; christenings, weddings, a house party or even just mass. That being said, I could accidentally overhear a great bit of town scandal, on my own in the queue for milk and that could fuel a whole project.
How would you describe your designs?
My style can change from project to project, depending on any historical and cultural referencing, but my Future Makers piece is a mix of contemporary and classic Irish embroidery design. I love to mix traditional hand techniques and styles with state of the art software to create something reminiscent, but entirely new and innovative.
Narrative is a huge part of my work as well, and of course being born and raised in Donegal, I was never short of content.
I think what we have to say reflects who and where we are as people. The use of textiles is as old as humanity itself. You could trace every major and minor event in your own personal history and the history of humanity through a timeline of tactile artefacts. I like to think my work contributes to that recording of Us, and creates a consciousness of the big and small things in life that matter, and the things we'd like to be remembered for (#Deep).
How does it feel to be working with textiles and working in craft in Ireland today?
It's a really special and exciting time for Irish designers and craftspeople right now. In a way, the recession really exposed the bones of industries in Ireland, it showed us who had the weaknesses and the strengths to pull through. Some industries crumbled and are working their way back up the ladder, but the craft industry is thriving and steadily developing. Those tough economic times forced us into a new and more difficult market, but we've grabbed it with both hands and we're making it work for us. I'm proud and excited to be a part of it.
Ireland has such an interesting and rich history in craft, quality and design innovation, it would be a crime to let that ever slip away from us.
I think embracing and harnessing the unique and creative talent this island has to offer has been, and will continue to be the making of us on the world stage
How gas is this very honest wedding invite?
The time is nearly upon me (and I finally found an apartment!) so I'm finally able to announce that I'm moving to London to intern with the studio of dreams that is @handandlocklondon ? I am BEYOND psyched/nervous/delighted to have such an opportunity, I only hope I can do the island and the parish proud?? Absolutely dying to get started as this has been in the works for a good while, but you'll be seeing plenty of me most likely broke af and gallivanting around London town like a typical Irish gal, giving about the price of pints ???? . . . #london #donegal #newhome #handandlock #embroidery
If you liked this read:
Inform | Inspire | Indulge