Umha Aois is an ongoing voluntary project, with approximately annual summer projects. Upcoming opportunities will be advertised here, so check back regularly.
An Lab, Ionad Ealaíona na Gaeilge, Sraid Eoin, An Daingean, Ireland, April 28th - May 6th 2013. Associated with the Féile Na Bealtaine 2013 Arts Festival
Following our successful participation last year, Umha Aois will once again take part in Féile na Bealtaine 2013. Umha Aois is a multidisciplinary group of artists, craftspersons, engineers and archaeologists with an interest in the historical metalworking traditions of Ireland. Last year’s event was a great success, with public casting demonstrations, a week-long art exhibition in An Lab and several visits from local primary schools. The event also received extensive coverage on RTE’s Nationwide, ensuring high profile publicity for both the group and Féile na Bealtaine.
While last year’s event focused on the bronze casting traditions of prehistoric Ireland, this year will include tinsmithing, blacksmithing and copper working. To that end, we have enlisted the participation of traditional travelling tinsmith Tom McDonnell. Tom is one of the remaining few traveller tinsmiths in Ireland, and represents the last in a long line of craftsmen who employed their skills throughout the country, making and mending tin containers. Tom’s role will be both tutor and demonstrator, and will be making traditional Irish tin vessels in view of the public. The event will also involve blacksmith Mary Jane Verniere, a craftswoman of many years’ experience in the shaping and forming of iron and steel. Traditional blacksmithing skills will be demonstrated as part of the event, in full view of the public. As the group also includes workers in precious metals, the event will also include some demonstrations in silverworking and jewellery making.
As well as these new additions to the Umha Aois programme, we have decided to focus on a central project for the core members. Since the theme of this year’ festival is ‘The Gathering’, we will undertake to create a cauldron of bronze and copper, based on prehistoric designs. These great vessels were once part of the feasting and festival culture of ancient Ireland, and were undoubtedly employed in great gatherings and social occasions. The notion of the Cauldron of Plenty features in ancient Irish mythology, and was one of the four great treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Umha Aois will work as a group to create such a cauldron, and, upon its completion, prepare a great meal over an open fire towards the end of the festival. This will include local ingredients that would have been available in the prehistoric past, and will be our best attempt at a bronze age stew. The sheet metal for the cauldron will be made using hammers that were cast as part of last year’s Féile na Bealtaine.
Other elements of the event will include an art and crafts exhibition in An Lab, and guided tours, as Gaeilge, with local schools. All metalworking and demonstrations will take place in full view of the public, who are invited to observe, interact and ask questions. Work will take place in the week leading up to the festival, and will culminate over the festival weekend. Umha Aois has a cyclical membership, meaning that there will be several new participants this year, bringing new skills and perspectives. It is also envisioned that a local artist would participate in the event, and learn and share skills with the group.
Oscailt Oifigiúíl: De hAoine 3 Bealtaine ag a 4
Oscailt Oifigiúil, Dé hAoine, 4 Bealtaine.
I mbliana agus an ‘tionól’ á chéiliúradh
timpeall na tire, deir siad 'táimíd chun caildéara
nó coire cré uamha nó copar bunaithe ar dhearadh
réamhstairiúíl a chreathú!'
For more details about the festival, check out the http://feilenabealtaine.ie website!
Venue: An Lab, Ionad Ealaíona na Gaeilge
Address: Sraid Eoin, An Daingean, Ireland