A royal evening for new Crafts Council CEO

IT’S been quite a month for Bennettsbridge native Karen Hennessy.

IT’S been quite a month for Bennettsbridge native Karen Hennessy.

Just days after being named chief executive of the Crafts Council of Ireland, she found herself among the 2,000 invited guests at the cultural event in honour of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday night.

Ms Hennessy, who now lives in Kilkenny, had been the Crafts Council’s acting CEO since November, and her appointment comes as the Craft Council’s designated Year of Craft 2011 is in full swing.

“It is a very important year for us in the Craft Council. A lot of work has been going on over the past year and a half ... and we are now reaching the pinnacle point with a lot of events coming together,” she said.

In addition to the exhibition by American jeweller Bruce Metcalf that opened in the Kilkenny-based National Craft Gallery on Friday evening and this week’s National Craft Gallery residency by Kilkenny native artist Mick Minogue, television ads about the Year of Craft are being aired on RTÉ One and Two this week

The Crafts Council will also have a large presence at Bloom in the Park garden fair in Dublin, Ms Hennessy said, with a focus on craft retail, stalls, illustrations and workshops, and a craft garden.

Around the same time, there will be three exhibitions in Dublin: ‘Irish Craft Portfolio 2011’, which premiered in Kilkenny; ‘West Cork Illustrated’; and ‘Transformed’ by Ceramics Ireland.

As Crafts Council CEO, Ms Hennessy will then be involved in the World Craft Council-Europe Assembly will take place in Dublin Castle on June 8-9. The international conference with 300 delegates will include the likes of world-renowned ceramicist Edmund de Waal; Finbarr Bradley from the Department of Economics at NUI Maynooth; and Enda dos Santos-Duisenberg, chief of the United Nations’ Creative Economies and Industries Programme.

A celebration of creativity was also at the heart of the State visit hosted by the British Embassy at the Dublin Convention Centre in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Ireland, which Ms Hennessy attended.

“It was wonderful,” she said of the event that included a fashion show of about 20 Irish and British designers. “It was really a showcase about what is fantastic about Irish talent and Irish design.”

“It was very exciting and I was very proud to be there,” the CEO said. “It was very good for ‘Ireland Inc.’ It showed the abundance of talent that is around the country between designers and entertainers.”