My name is Gráinne Kenny, and I am a Textile Designer & Artist from Gorey, Co. Wexford.
I am inspired by the beauty, the colours and textures of shorelines along Ireland's Ancient East and the Wild Atlantic way. The Sea has always been of interest to me, there are three local shores a short distance away from my own home studio, with Ballymoney Beach being my favourite. I can see the horizon from my studio window on a clear day. I have grown up living close to the sea and I love gathering seashells, stones and taking photographs of my subject matter. I’m passionate about the Seashore and each shoreline along the Irish Coastline holds something unique which I love.
I love all shades of blue and my work features various shades such as aquamarine, turquoise, teal blue to sea greens with hints of purples, highlights of metallic silver & gold, whites, and creams amongst other cool and warm colours. I love colour and building up interesting surface texture and detail using various materials from fabrics to yarns. The theme of the Sea never tires me as there is always something new to look at, changes to the landscape due to weather and the different seasons to sunsets that bring with it new colours, textures and flora and fauna that surrounds the sea from above.
I have a master’s degree (MA) in Textile Design where I specialised in Woven Textiles from University College Falmouth, Cornwall in 2007. I have a particular interest in fine art textiles, instead of favouring traditional weave techniques, I liked to push the boundaries and experimented with collapsed and seer sucker woven designs. I would weave in ribbons and beads to create interesting tactile qualities to my cloth. I combined mixed media with weaving and I also have knowledge of Jacquard Loom weaving. I focused on Interior Furnishings. I have a loom in my studio. I also studied my BA in Textile Design from Falmouth and prior to that I studied Mixed Media Textiles & Embroidery at GMIT, Co. Galway where I did a three-year National Diploma in Art & Design in Textile Design. I’m also a past student of Grennan Mill Craft School in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.
Throughout my college years I have learnt and developed extensive knowledge and techniques, that I now apply to my own designs. With this wealth of experience behind me, it has enabled me to discover my own signature style of working with textiles, to create beautiful and functional pieces for the Interior and Gift ware market.
I launched my business in January of 2012, having previously completed a start your own business course with my local enterprise office. I also built on knowledge and skills to do with courses for business and completed a part time evening course in Visual Merchandising & Window Dressing from Dublin Institute of Design. During that time, I got a feel for my work by attending local craft fairs, exhibited my artwork in a local café and took part in group exhibitions alongside other Craftspeople while taking time to develop my products and perfect my craft. I have shown my work at New Designers in London (2006) The Knitting & Stitching Show RDS Dublin (2008), The Irish Furniture Fair (2012) and I have attended Showcase Ireland from 2017-2020 as well as taken part in many group exhibitions from Wexford Opera Festival to collaborating with other Irish Designers.
My work has featured in various press such as, House and Home magazine, Irish Tatler, The Irish Times Magazine, The Irish Examiner – Property & Interiors Guide, on an article for wedding gifts to appearing in mentions on Online Blogs. I was also Interviewed on South East Radio & appeared on RTE Nationwide (January 23rd 2019 - For Showcase) and Irish TV on sky. Most recently my work was in ‘Ireland of the Welcomes’ (Online/Subscription Irish magazine for the American Market – July/August 2020)
Development & Materials
My fabrics and fibres are like a palette, painting with the materials using only my hands.
Wool and silk fibres are used in my mixed media textile art work, however no felting needles or wet felting methods are used. Each material, yarn and bead are hand applied using a unique technique that I developed over the years.
With this is turn, I can achieve the painterly effect my work is known for. From afar, my pieces look like paintings, but upon closer inspection they are in fact pieces of textile art inspired by my love of the Sea and surrounding Landscape.
Each stage is built in a series of layers, building from the background to the foreground using lots of rich colours and building surface textures to using embellishments such as beads and seashells amongst other materials. I use quality Irish and New Zealand wools for their softness and different weights and textures. Each layer is like applying paint onto a canvas by gently pulling strands and layering my materials, so that it creates a scene that I am happy with. I draw my Inspiration from my own photography and drawings, and I intensify the colours and textures slightly.
A variety of materials are used from various fabrics to yarns, such as silk, linen, wool and cotton, handmade papers, gold and silver leaf, pigment, beads, threads and seashells to create my contemporary textile paintings known as 'Sea Studies’. I use processes such as subtle hand stitching, beading, layering, fusing, distorting, dyeing of some fabrics and yarns, manipulating fabrics and fibres however no felting.
There is a sense of movement in how I apply my materials. No two pieces are identical which makes my work even more appealing to the end customer. Silver shimmery tones to golden glowing shores and little accents of glass seed beads complete my pieces and each piece from the start to the finished framed product is carried out by me. All framing of the final product is by me. Each piece is framed in quality hand crafted picture frames that are Irish made. These frames are a white limed, wooden box style frame featuring a polar white mount on the artwork and glass. The large seascapes are framed in custom sized bevel edged white wooden frames and the artwork is double mounted. There are five different frame sizes to choose from and any of my designs can be created in any of the sizes available.
Other products I design are Floor and Table lamps and are inspired by my original Textile 'Sea Studies'. The fabric is digitally printed by an Irish based Company in Donegal and printed onto Cotton.
I also make Sea Inspired Jewellery, combining coloured pigments with clear eco resin trapping bits of textiles, beads and shells and included in the collection are a range of pendants and earrings.
My pieces are suited for all occasional gifts, especially wedding gifts to corporate gifts. I have also produced work for Interior Designers, as well as commissioned pieces with custom titles for clients.
Examples of commissioned corporate work created for include Wexford County Council, Gorey Chamber of Commerce and Gorey Little Theatre Hall for the South Leinster All Ireland Drama Festival 2018 to name a few and I have even produced work for Irish Interior Designers. My products are available through various craft & design led stockists and galleries in Ireland.My textile pictures have been bought and adorn homes in the United States, Canada, Asia, United Kingdom, France, the Greek Islands and in homes across Ireland. I am a registered member of The Design & Crafts Council of Ireland, Design Ireland and Wexford Craft Trail. .