Craft NI Bids Farewell to Orla McGrady

03-Jul-2017 in

Orla McGrady was at the operational helm of Craft NI for 10 years and saw the organisation through many wonderful achievements. A cherished colleague and friend, a stalwart of the arts sector here in Northern Ireland, and a hardworking advocate for designer-makers across the region, Orla may have moved on from the organisation, but her efforts will not go unnoticed or uncelebrated as Craft NI continues to promote and support craft around the country.

During Craft NI’s formative years, Orla cut her teeth playing an integral part in showcasing makers’ work to a broader audience. The 2007 Smithsonian exhibition in Washington DC, for example, or Northern Ireland’s first ever, and only, International Craft Conference in Lisburn’s Island Arts Centre in 2008. But more than just proudly shouting about our talented designer-makers outside of NI, she worked tirelessly here at home to support and help develop the businesses of early-career makers. Since the inception of the making it programme in 2005, Orla was able to assist scores of designer-makers grow their craft into successful businesses – many of which continue to operate domestically and internationally.

Setting an early agenda for the organisation’s involvement in education and advocacy, Orla created links and partnerships with the likes of CCEA and the Belfast School of Art, showcasing craft and the joy of making to students in their formative years. Many of these young designer-makers have gone on to work closely with Craft NI and, more importantly, remain today staunch supporters and exponents of the craft and design sector in Northern Ireland. As an organisation that endeavours to make a positive impact on the education of young people in the arts, we’re eternally grateful to Orla to be able to continue to work so frequently with education bodies – as evidenced recently by the 2017 Craft In Business Award.

Throughout every August Craft Month, every Culture Night Belfast, hundreds of Late Night Art trails, events, demonstrations, exhibitions, and showcases, Orla’s tenure at Craft NI has been a driving force for the evolving craft sector here in Northern Ireland. As Craft NI continues to grow and develop, and as sad as it may be that we have to say goodbye to Orla as she takes on another role within the arts sector, we’re confident that her new-found home will be all the better for having her.

Orla: “It has been a privilege to work with Craft NI for 10 years. During this time I have witnessed the tremendous growth both in the number of talented makers and the quality of local craft and design products, which is in no small part due to the work of Craft NI. I am honoured to have worked alongside all the dedicated staff and board since its inception, which has attributed greatly to my own personal and professional development. I have the deepest respect and admiration for our wonderful designer-makers and wish you all the very best in your future endeavours. However all good things must come to an end and I must seek new opportunities for my growth. I wish the organisation all the very best going forward as it makes exciting plans to review and revitalise the offering of craft support in Northern Ireland. I have no doubt that the next 10 years can only strengthen and build on the tremendous impact of regional craft development during my time with the organisation. I would like to thank all, colleagues, partners, stakeholders, & makers, who have made my work so very enjoyable over the years.”

We wish you all the best Orla! 


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