US craft artist Boris Bally is city bound

This summer local artists and designers will have the opportunity to work alongside one of the biggest international names in craft design when the city welcomes renowned American craft designer Boris Bally for a three week residency.

Wednesday, 7th May 2014, 12:53 pm
Derry City Councils Director of Legacy Oonagh McGillion pictured with some of the disused road signs being provided by the Department of Regional Development as materials for the unique new Reclaim the Streets project launched this week as part of the CultureCraft programme. Also included are Councils Business Opportunities Manager Louise Breslin, Brian Neeley, DRD, Deirdre Harte, Craft Development Manager, Seliena Coyle, CultureCraft Curator, and Noel Gailey Roads Service Direct.

Bally will be leading a unique and exciting workshop opportunity as part of the major contemporary craft initiative titled REclaim/REpurpose which was launched this week in Londonderry, and which is being led by CultureCraft and Derry City Council through the council’s 2014 Legacy Programme and Business Opportunities Programme.

The initiative includes a three week residency by Bally and culminates in a fascinating exhibition of international contemporary craft.

Legacy Director for Derry City Council Oonagh McGillion said: “We are delighted to welcome Boris Bally to Derry, and his involvement in this project is testament to the real calibre of the craft work which is currently being produced throughout the North West.

“Following on from the success of last year’s CultureCraft exhibition which took place in the London Street Gallery, it’s fantastic to be able to honour our pledge to local craft makers by delivering on our commitment to promote and support their work, and establish a strong cross-border network of artists and designers.

“This project offers an exciting opportunity to work with one of the most innovative craft designers in the business as well as contribute a unique piece of artwork to the city.”

Curator of the exhibition Seliena Coyle explained the format of the project: “REclaim/ REpurpose provides a unique opportunity for those interested in contemporary craft to gain hands-on experience working in a team scenario under Boris Bally’s guidance and instruction whilst contributing to the cultural and physical enhancement of the cityscape.

“This type of opportunity does not come along very often and we expect the level of interest to be very high.”

Bally will arrive in the city on August 4, and will work with a range of artists, students and organisations to design a bespoke collection of street furniture using street signage donated by the local Department of Regional Development (DRD).

Bally is internationally renowned for his quirky craft pieces which utilize scrap street signage, using jeweller’s skills on non-precious metals to create witty and thought provoking items of designer furniture.

Interested craftspeople, students and locals are invited to apply to work alongside Bally for a minimum of one week/five days during his residency, offering an amazing opportunity to learn new creative and technical skills under the mentorship of an international artist. One bursary has been made available to enable one lucky participant chosen by Bally to spend two weeks in the US working alongside him in his workshop.

Speaking ahead of the visit from his home in Rhode Island in the US, Bally said he was looking forward to his first visit to the country, and to working closely with local crafts people.

“In August, the Legacy programme will make it possible for me to visit Derry Ireland as a resident artist,” he enthused. “I’ve not yet had the opportunity to travel to Ireland and I’m utterly excited to become a ‘temporary citizen’ of the Derry creative community.”

He added: “I especially look forward to sharing, connecting and working with the community of designers, artists and students. Seliena Coyle’s proposal is optimistic in its reach and thoughtfully includes aspects of teaching, making, exhibiting and lecturing.

“Our end-goal is to create durable furniture, with the generous assistance of the community, for Derry Citizens to use and enjoy. During our time there, we will share the process of using sustainable materials, drawing on my own design sensibility and studio practice.

“As a bonus, the project is promising to reach far beyond this single visit and I hope that it will lead to continuing design collaborations between our countries. Just yesterday, I accepted a speaking opportunity at the 2015 Boston Conference of the Society of North American Goldsmiths to recount my Derry experience which fits nicely into the theme, “Impact,” discussing ‘Social Impact, Heritage, Innovation’.

“A future component of the proposal will also include hosting a Derry Artist in my studio for a ‘backstage pass,’ hands-on experience here in Providence, Rhode Island.

“My hope is that this visit will excite the Derry creative community by highlighting new perspectives of designing and making, using recycled materials as a source for inspiration. I’m really looking forward to a ‘full immersion’ experience, and intend to infect the community with my own enthusiasm.”

Participants will be expected to dedicate a minimum of five days to this project and expressions of interest are welcomed and can be emailed to [email protected] Application forms will be available in May and more information is available on