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Craft Makers encouraged to apply for the £15,000 Rosy James Memorial Trust Award

Tuesday 21st August 2018 at 12pm 0 Comments Craft

Ceramicist, Anne Butler and furniture designer, Brian McKee were the fourth recipients of the Rosy James Memorial Trust Award in 2017. Image: Ceramicist, Anne Butler and furniture designer, Brian McKee were the fourth recipients of the Rosy James Memorial Trust Award in 2017.

An annual craft bursary, the Rosy James Memorial Trust Award, worth £15,000, is now welcoming applications.  This unique bursary aims to assist craft makers to develop their careers by creating a new body of work which would otherwise have been unattainable without the funding award.

Administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Rosy James Memorial Trust Award, established in 2014, came about thanks to the generosity of Rosemary James (Rosy), a local patron of the arts.  Originally from Belfast, Rosy had a lifelong commitment to the arts and following her death in 2010, bequeathed over £500,000 to help artists and craft makers pursue their careers. 

Previous recipients of the prestigious award include glass artist, Scott Benefield (2015), silversmiths, Stuart Cairns (2014) and Cara Murphy (2016) and in 2017 two awards were made to ceramicist, Anne Butler and furniture designer, Brian McKee.

Ceramicist, Anne Butler, used the award to enable her to create more ambitious work by researching methods of producing scaled up models through digital technologies and innovative mould making techniques.

Furniture designer, Brian McKee, used his award to bring to fruition a long cherished ambition to use steam bending as a creative process for building contemporary design rocking chairs and associated products.

Silversmith, Cara Murphy, whose work is held in several private and public collections, including the Silver Trust Collection at 10 Downing Street, used the funding to buy time to develop enamelling skills with the aim of creating a new body of work.  She learnt these enamelling techniques from famed enamellist, Deirdre McCrory, who also happens to be Cara’s mother.  The new works have been exhibited at the Ulster Museum in Belfast and also at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale.

Glass artist, Scott Benefield was the second recipient of the bursary in 2015.  Scott used the funding to develop a series of works using hand-blown glass and cabinetry, travelling to the Creative Glass Centre of America for a six-week residency to research and develop his ideas and elements of his technique.  This was followed by a week’s study in Venice before bringing the learning back to his studio in Randalstown.

Silversmith Stuart Cairns was the first craft-maker to receive the bursary in 2014 using the funds to enable him to extend and develop his practice through an extended period of regular research and investment into new equipment.  The bursary enabled Stuart to produce a new body of work, for exhibiting locally, nationally and internationally, which explored landscape, process and object through the reinterpretation of domestic forms.

Noirin McKinney, Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented:

“The Rosy James Memorial Trust Award demonstrates the power of philanthropic giving to create lasting impact.  Rosy James leaves an incredible legacy.  Her passion for craft led her to leave the bequest that will allow new work of really high quality, and of international interest, to be produced by local artists.  It will give our artists the chance to devote time to their practice over the course of a year and to develop their ideas.  We look forward to receiving the next round of applications.”

Applications are now open and will close on Thursday 18 October 2018.  For information on how to apply visit


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