Laura Quinn, Plymouth College of Art MA 3D Design Crafts graduate, has landed herself an Exhibition Support prize at this year’s Future Makers awards.
Held by the Design & Crafts Council Ireland, Future Makers is one of the largest prize-funded award programmes in Europe and offers support to students and emerging makers. Established in 2009, the programme assists the next generation of Irish designers and makers at a pivotal stage in their professional development.
Future Makers helps recipients to develop a career in the design and craft industry with exhibition, studio, materials, travel and training supports along with Future Makers of the Year Awards, design awards and craft skills awards.
Laura said of the importance of the award: “Like many other students and recent graduate makers from Ireland, Future Makers is on our radar as one of the main awards for early career support. I’ve been shortlisted twice before, but it’s a huge honour to have my work acknowledged by such a prestigious awarding body.”
“I submitted a body of work which was made during my Masters at Plymouth College of Art. The research practice I developed during my time in Plymouth was very material and process led. My aims are to challenge the audience and user’s perception of glass as a material by making pieces that are durable, flexible and highly repairable. I like to place glass closely within the audience experience by making functional items such as interactive lighting and wearable glass pieces.”
“Each applicant is asked to submit a proposal and budget for funds to help develop their career. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the British Crafts Council International Art Fair Collect 2022, where I’ll be showing an ambitious, kinetic, glass light installation. As a result, I submitted a proposal to Future Makers to help fund the photography and printed materials needed in order to promote the work. At this early stage in my emerging career, it’s so beneficial to receive not only financial support, but also have the acknowledgement that the work I’m creating has a place in contemporary craft and design, and an audience who believes in what I’m trying to achieve. It’s a big confidence boost!”
28 students and emerging professionals received awards and supports this year, with the prizes totalling €25,000. Laura received exhibition support of €1,000, with judges commenting that “she is to be commended on her juried selection for the prestigious ‘Collect’ exhibition and submitted an exciting and ambitious proposal that will make the audience see glass in a new way. It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to support that.”
Laura, who graduated with a Distinction in MA 3D Design Crafts in 2019 said: “Normally, the awards deadline is in the spring, with the winners announced in early summer. This year, due to Covid-19, the deadline was extended to allow applicants more time to develop their work and proposal under the ever changing circumstances including loss of workshop access. The new deadline was in the autumn, shortlisted makers were informed in November, with the winner announced at an online award ceremony in December – a wonderful Christmas present! I was really overjoyed to have won a support alongside so many talented makers!”
Future Makers is one of DCCI’s programmes which support and invest in a new generation of talent in the craft and design sector. Divided into student and emerging maker categories and covering a wide range of disciplines, Future Makers recognises and rewards vision, innovation and excellence in both making and the creative process.
Following a call-out for entries in March, Future Makers 2020 received the highest number of entries to date with 232 online applications submitted and assessed through a formal judging process. The successful applicants demonstrated design thinking, innovation and creativity, traditional and contemporary techniques, as well as skilful execution. Those selected come from a broad range of disciplines; from fashion design to woodturning, embroidery to jewellery design, across the island of Ireland.
Laura said, “The pandemic forced a full stop on so many with no idea of when things would continue. Perhaps, however, the full stop is what is needed. For those who are overworked, working in the perpetual production of glass, always fulfilling the next order, or for those who have been forced to rethink their whole making methods. We have all been forced to a stop. 2020 has allowed more time for conversations online with designers and makers across the world. Perhaps some of these conversations never would have happened in normal times.”
“I’ve been able to develop my own online series called Home Glass Hacks, where anyone can learn to work with glass at home, with accessible tools and equipment. This whole situation has forced me to consider how a low-tech approach inevitably becomes more sustainable because of the reduction in fossil fuel burning. This experimentation led to my collaborative lockdown project Words of Isolation | Words of Connection, calling on members of the public to get involved in communicating their experience of the Covid-19 isolation through making glass words by bending glass stringers using a tealight candle flame.”
“I’ve had submissions from scientists, engineers, butchers, artists, entrepreneurs, photographers, teachers and students, crossing boundaries of language, race, sex, gender, age, religion, background and culture. Submissions have come in from all over the world, from New Zealand and America to Sweden, France and Ireland, and the project resonates with greater global objectives such as the Sustainable Development Goals set out by the UN. Words of Isolation | Words of Connection has also been nominated for the European Glass Context awards in Norway in 2021, for its sustainability and inclusivity in the arts, which will be a poignant home coming for the project.”