In House: Journeys in ceramics, print and glass

Radek Zemlikca in Balbriggan, Ruth Gunning in Dublin and the Crows in Connemara

Artists, designers and craftspeople are well known for making journeys over the course of their career development. And whether those are metaphorical or literal, the work produced on the far side often has a depth and quality that has been hard won.

Take Radek Zemlicka. He's a second-generation potter who began working in his mother's pottery studio, in the Czech Republic, in 1994 and opened his own place there two years later. He moved to Ireland in 2005 and progressed his craft in the Colm de Rís studio in Dublin. In 2009, at the peak of a recession, he went out on his own, founding Touch Design Ceramics, and now has a studio and shop in Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

“I divide my time in the studio equally between work with stoneware and porcelain,” he says. “My products are made on a potter’s wheel and fired at high temperatures close to 1,300 degrees Celsius.”

He’s made custom-designed pieces for catering companies but found that side of his work dwindled during lockdown.

“As you can imagine the catering business got a big hit in the Covid lockdowns and so it happened that I had finally time to create rather decorative than functional pieces.”

The results include one-off pieces meant to be indoors or outdoors in a garden – a tower two feet tall and a lighthouse that can accommodate a candle under its roof. “They really honour the work on potter’s wheel,” he says.

Eye of the tiger

Dublin-based Ruth Gunning didn't set out to be a print artist. She founded Minx Design, a graphic design business, more than 15 years ago after studying at Technical University Dublin. During the lockdowns, however, she began sketching and drawing, a pastime she had previously used as a method of relaxation in the evenings after work. She has now developed a range of prints and printed mugs using textured wool: trees, tiger, leaf and amperloop designs.

“I am a designer living in a little cottage – with my favourite people – in the foothills of the Dublin mountains in Ireland. I have always drawn, doodled and sketched as a tool in my career and as a form of relaxation in my life, and now and I want to share them,” she says.

From classical to blues

Tash Coplestone-Crow started out as a classically-trained musician and teacher and worked for over 20 years in the music education industry, before joining her parents at Connemara Blue in Clifden, Co Galway in January 2020. She began by making small items but is now developing her own range, including wall panels, bowls and plates. Pauline Crow, with a background in nursing and teaching, had her own journey to take before joining the glass-making business, set up by her husband, the glass artist Ben Crow, in 2010. Connemara Blue specialises in handmade fused glass, ranging from smaller decorations and tableware to large pieces of locally inspired wall art. Everything is crafted and fired onsite, and Ben Crow says he's "still enthralled by the magic that takes place when this cold, sharp, brittle and unforgiving material is fired in the kiln".

“The infinite blues of the sky, rivers, lakes and sea are the reason we call our work Connemara Blue,” he says. Among favourite items, a wall panel, entitled Late for Mass, tells a witty story. Spot the lone sheep who’s on his own journey and running late.

Creating beautiful things for the home? Let us know at homeanddesign@irishtimes.com