Film Makers

Film Makers

Six contemporary makers inspired by the Digital Film Archive

When Sinéad Bhreathnach-Cashell approached me in early 2016 with an idea to do something, anything, with Northern Ireland Screen’s wonderful collection of archive footage featuring traditional craft skills, I was excited. I knew the Digital Film Archive has preserved an abundance of cine footage recording and documenting Ireland’s rich craft heritage, and wanted to find a way of putting a spotlight not only on this wonderful archive, but on the incredible skills and artistry of the contemporary craft makers living and creating in Northern Ireland today.

By developing this idea with R-Space Gallery we decided to bring contemporary makers, who used traditional craft skills, into contact with the archive, and ask them to create an artistic response to what they found. We saw this as an opportunity to celebrate Northern Ireland’s craft and moving image heritage, using archive film not merely as a document of the past, but as the stimulus to create something new. The film material could be repurposed, taken in or out of the archive context and given new currency and meaning, and it afforded a challenge to and opportunity for the makers to work outside their usual practice. 

Makers working across a wide array of disciplines were invited to take part, using materials wrestled from the earth itself: clay, wood, flax, metal, stone, wool. As makers they have a profound intimacy with and understanding of their materials and craft - some using skills and techniques unchanged for generations – and used this knowledge to create original, contemporary and innovative new work, forms and functions. We were adamant that the works and the films that were produced through the project would have a continuing value, diversifying the appeal of craft and archive film, so I’m delighted to see the project has expanded, allowing new audiences the opportunity to see this outstanding work and appreciate these makers both past and present. 

Rebecca Mairs

Investigate the collections below and discover the films that inspired each of the makers.

Film|Makers is possible thanks to the initial support of R-Space Gallery, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, The Braid Mid-Antrim Museum, BFI Film Audience Network and BFI Unlocking Film Heritage awarding funds from the National Lottery. 

The current incarnation of Film|Makers, on show in Nerve Visual Gallery, is part of the Reimagine, Remake, Replay project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Kick the Dust programme. Reimagine, Remake, Replay will connect young people with heritage in meaningful ways through creative media and in the latest digital technologies. The project is delivered by a consortium of partners including Nerve Centre, Northern Ireland Museums Council, National Museums Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen.


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