Gemma Tipton is an arts writer, editor, and creative producer based in Ireland. Passionate about bringing arts and culture to the widest audiences, she writes for the Irish Times, and contributes to arts publications, as well as giving talks and appearing on radio and television programmes in Ireland and internationally. She has also worked as a curator of art and craft exhibitions, and has directed the Blackwater Valley Opera Festival and the Kinsale Arts Festival. During the Pandemic, she set up Festival in a Van, a mobile performance venue bringing safe live arts – including Shakespeare, opera, trad and folk to audiences during lockdown. She is currently a judge on the Design and Crafts Council Ireland’s Future Makers awards 2021.What does craftsmanship signify for you?
Craftsmanship is about learning, love and material. It comes through a maker seeing the potential of something, and having the skill and instinct to realise their vision. There’s also often a great and sometimes surprising practicality to it that anchors even fantastic pieces in the real. There is as much craftsmanship in a Berney’s saddle as there is in a piece of finely wrought silver.How does it feature in your work and life?
I write about craft, and sometimes curate. I also occasionally judge awards, and so I feel lucky to know many of the extraordinary artisans in Ireland today. I love the mantra of having a few, well chosen and beloved objects that are in regular use, however Irish makers have a marvellous affinity with material, so there’s always something new to yearn for.Do you have any stories about the artisans you have selected for the guide?
I lust over the idea of a house spare and lovely enough to house a piece by Sasha Sykes. Sasha herself is a warm and gorgeous person, but there’s a cool beauty to her pieces that inspire the idea of wafting around in white, and I can’t quite see my muddy dog in context – yet.How would you define excellence?
Excellence comes from the heart. It has integrity and resists compromise, and yet there is an inherent honesty that also trusts in the material, letting it speak. True artists can’t help making. They wouldn’t be able to thrive, or find a way to be comfortable in the world otherwise. When all that comes together, excellence shines through.