Staff / Board

  • Sharyn McMaster

    Operations Manager

    Sharyn McMaster has returned to Craft NI having previously been a part of the team from 2015 to 2016 as a Support Officer. Sharyn returns to assume the new role of Operations Manager. For the past year Sharyn has been working with Audiences NI providing business support and more recently client relationship support.

    Sharyn is passionate about craft and has worked within the sector since 2007 having previously worked with Ards Borough Council supporting their Craft Development function.

    Sharyn has recently completed a Masters in Arts Management, studying modules in Cultural Policy, Audience Development as well as studying the finer details of managing the arts. Sharyn concluded her studies by completing a dissertation looking at approaches toward achieving sustainability for the funded arts in Northern Ireland.

    When not at work Sharyn is kept busy by her two children and loves to spend time outdoors with her family.

  • Aaron Drain

    Web & E-Communications Officer

    I joined the Craft NI team in November 2015 as the Web & E-Communications Officer. I look after the Craft NI website, as well as the Craft NI newsletters, social media channels, advertising, and whatever else needs digitally doing. 

    I'm from Belfast, and have a background in arts & culture journalism – I started writing about the arts, in various publications, in 2013, before embarking on a path of editorial and digital content delivery. I studied in both the University of Ulster, and QUB, where I completed a Cert HE in Modern & Contemporary Literature, as well as a BA Hons in English, respectively.

    I continue to freelance in my spare time, writing mainly about music – a passion I've had for a long time. When I'm not behind my keyboard I enjoy going to gigs, reading, walking, good coffee, and good food. I'm always on the lookout for interesting stories from designer-makers here in NI, and I'd love to hear from you if you have any ideas, news, or tips. I'll try my best to spread the word!

  • Meadhbh McIlgorm

    Project Officer

    I joined Craft NI in January 2017 as Project Officer. My role here involves the planning and delivery of our various programmes and within this to act as the main point of contact between the organisation and our regional partners. If we haven’t met yet, I’m looking forward to working you.

    Originally from Dublin, I studied glass design at the National College of Art and Design and graduated in 2013. I moved to NI in 2015 to complete an MA in Arts Management at Queen's University Belfast. During this time, my research looked at various issues of market development and cultural policy relating to contemporary craft and I was introduced to the team here at Craft NI, initially to conduct a research project on the organisation’s audience development.

    When I’m not in the office you can find me out and about in town, going to events, relaxing, working for the Glass Society of Ireland (a glass-enthusiasts membership organisations – I am currently the vice-chair) and occasionally working on my own creative projects.


  • Martin Bradley MBE

    Chair - Craft NI Board

    Martin Bradley MBE is from Londonderry and is Head of Health and Social Care Pension Service NI. He was appointed a Board member of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1996 and served as Vice-Chair from 2003-07. He was a member of the Western Education and Library Board (1993-2001) and is currently Chair of UK City of Culture.

  • Julie Carse

    Craft NI Board Member

    Julie currently works in the Higher Education Sector supporting the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer of Queen’s University Belfast. Previously, for 14 years, Julie was a Business Improvement Project Manager in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Operational Effectiveness Team delivering successful business consulting projects in process and change across public and private sectors. Julie joined the Board of Craft NI in 2010.

  • Rachel Dickson

    Craft NI Board Member

    Rachel Dickson is Joint Course Director of BA Hons Contemporary Applied Arts, Belfast School of Art. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2002 with MA Ceramics and Glass. She is a practicing artist exploring ideas of memory through the medium of porcelain, paperclay and paper, and has exhibited throughout the UK, Ireland and North America. Rachel Dickson is a Distinguished Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of Applied Arts Ulster, and Irish Ceramics in Education.
  • Robert Martin

    Craft NI Board Member

    Robert Martin is the director and curator at R-Space Gallery CIC in Lisburn (2011- ). He studied Three Dimensional Design at De Montfort University 1979, specialising in Ceramics and Glass and ran his own glassmaking studio in England in the 1980s. He has lectured in art colleges and was a visual arts officer at Arts Council England (1997-2010) covering education, disability, cultural diversity, architecture and the craft sectors. He was part of the European network of the World Crafts Council and has worked in partnership with the Crafts Councils of England, Wales and Scotland as well as Craft Northern Ireland.
  • Kim Mawhinney

    Craft NI Board Member

    Kim was appointed Head of Art in 2009 at the National Museums Northern Ireland. She was Curator of Applied Art at the Ulster Museum for 15 years with responsibility for the glass, ceramic and furniture collections. Kim was a member of the Project Board for the redevelopment of the Ulster Museum, which reopened in October 2009. She currently sits on the main Board for the Art and Architecture Ireland, a cross-border major research publication. Throughout her career she has curated, juried and selected exhibitions, lectured and written about the history and development of museums, accessibility of art collections, glass and ceramics, both nationally and internationally.

  • René Mullin

    Craft NI Board Member

    René Mullin has 20 years’ experience in the design and craft sector. Her career began in graphic design in Scotland and has seen her return home to Ireland to set up and run both her own screen printing studio ‘Placed’ in 2009, and her own store Kiln and Loom in 2014 which offers a range of work from both Irish and International makers. René is a member of Belfast Print Workshop from where she originates her screens to work on projects within her design business, Placed. The focus of Placed is to explore the subject of Identity through illustration and typography. Her paper and textile work including her first illustrated children’s book, are available in shops and gallery shops all over Ireland. René enjoys both her own projects and those of the other designers and makers she regularly collaborates with. She loves craft and design and is delighted to be working with Craft NI to help secure the future of the sector in the north and explore its connectivity with its close neighbours and worldwide.
  • Rachel O’Neill

    Craft NI Board Member

    Northern Irish artist and designer Rachel O’Neill works at the interface between art and design using a variety of tactile materials to create wonderfully playful one-off Installations and limited edition pieces for corporate and private interiors and special events. After graduating from the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design, Rachel has travelled the world producing work for an international client base from Belfast to New York creating commissions for private homes and commercial ventures such as restaurants and galleries. Rachel has created massive installations for Peugeot’s Flagship showrooms in both Paris and Berlin while also producing pieces for New York’s luxury 5th Avenue Store, Bergdorf Goodman.
  • Heather Parker

    Craft NI Board Member

    Heather Parker has a degree in Linguistics and Modern Languages from the University of Manchester. She has extensive knowledge of the craft sector in Northern Ireland having worked, until recently, as Craft Development Manager with Ards and North Down Borough Council for 18 years. She was one of the founding members of the renowned Creative Peninsula event, the forerunner of August Craft Month. She has worked on international craft projects and alongside other local authorities to develop opportunities for craft businesses. Prior to working with the craft sector in Northern Ireland, Heather held senior retail planning positions for 13 years in the fashion industry in London with the House of Fraser and Coats Viyella groups and latterly as Quality Manager with Irish designer Paul Costelloe.
  • Catherine Woods

    Craft NI Board Member

    Catherine studied Accountancy with French at Queen's University Belfast and is a member of ACCA. Catherine works as a Management Accountant in the outsourcing industry, and in her spare time enjoys running, cycling, photography and travel.