Friday, 8 July 2011

Studio Visit - Róisín Gartland

The 'Studio Visits' are a monthly blog instalment. We're opening our doors to introduce you to the artists and designers in The Design Tower! Each interview will give you an insight into the individual designer or business.

This month we're chatting to Róisín Gartland.

Can you tell us about your creative path up as far as your latest field of study?

My design practice opened in 1987 and has been located in The Design Tower since 1988. I am a leather specialist and my business concentrated on developing a low volume high quality range of products.

I created bespoke pieces for private clients from the outset, (which I continue to do) and when demand for my work grew, I developed a commercial range of clothing that sold throughout Ireland, the UK and Europe. I am commissioned regularly to make pieces for film & TV and also for special events and concerts.

While being an independent woman operating a small business in the late eighties to early nineties was challenging in itself, it did not feed my soul. I needed to find a way to express myself creatively outside the commercial world. In 1991 I began to explore fine art as a means to fulfill that purpose and discovered a perfect visual language ideally suited to my needs. Over the next decade I balanced studies in fine art with my design business and was rewarded with a BA in fine art in 2000.

The most difficult time came in the years following the BA. Attempts to stitch my two practices together were surprisingly unsuccessful. My business had become a demanding master allowing little space to grow. So in 2004 I took a leap of faith and closed the commercial side of the business. In breaking up the old framework new possibilities emerged and as a result the last seven years have been some of the most creative and rewarding of my career to date. I returned to study 2 years ago to concentrate on an MFA in sculpture at NCAD.

What inspires your design - are there people or things that particularly inspire you?
 Unité d'Habitation by Corbusier

I am continually drawn to pattern formations, be they in nature or in geometry.  In this regard I am inspired in equal measure by nature, the human body and by architecture. Paris is one of my favourite cities for creative stimulus and Italy for its abundance of beautiful materials. I also have moments in sleep where inspiration is awakened.

Tell us about the range of materials that you like to work with

The range of leathers available is enormous but over the years I have whittled the list down to Spanish lambskins, Japanese hides, Ethiopian lamb suede, and a small selection of special finished leathers. On the other side of my practice I really like working with clay and paper, both separately and together.

It would be great to hear about your master’s course - what your goals and aspirations were and whether you feel they were met.

Pattern formation on vellum

For the last 2 years I have been immersed in a research based MFA at NCAD. This space allowed me the freedom to explore new avenues and engage with new audiences. My goal was to develop the building blocks for my reconfigured practice and out of that I developed a method that enabled my research to weave in and out between internal and external enquiries so while I spent much time pondering issues in the studio an equal amount of time was spent developing work that required an audience to activate it. It was a very challenging and rewarding time that was equally balanced by holding on and letting go. I’m happy to say was it was successfully completed.

In relation to your studio, if you had a crystal ball what vision of the future would you like to see?

I would like to see my studio continually evolve allowing the unexpected to happen. I would like to continue to share my expertise and experience with the generations to come and I would like to move outside the studio on occasion to research abroad. Having just completed my first ‘Tower Summer School’ workshop I would also like to see these develop as regular events in the ‘Tower’ calendar.

Can you tell us about the piece you created for The Design Tower Bender Exhibition?

The concept was to create an image of beauty in a modern style while making reference to Benders collections of Japanese Ukiyo-e prints and antiquarian books.

The image brings together all these elements: the outfit is made entirely from Japanese materials and the collar and cuff highlight the prominent fan motif in Japanese prints. Finally the location is the Long Room Library with centuries of knowledge as the backdrop.

Thanks for telling us more about your business Róisín! For more information, visit the Róisín Gartland website.

Check out the other designer interviews in the series too!

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