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  • Writer's picturejemma millen ceramics

Third Series of Making Conversations Podcast

Last year, Robyn and I were contacted by the wonderful ACJSNI (which Robyn is a part of) about a collaboration idea to produce a mini series of podcast episodes to coincide with their debut exhibition PINNED. It was such an exciting project and we couldn't wait to get started. It evolved over many months in a few different forms, but ultimately transformed into three episodes with funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

The first episode saw us speak with the wonderful Anne Earls Boylan about the association's origins, giving us an insight into the steps leading up to their debut exhibition PINNED, which if not obvious, is all about brooches. Included in the episode were 6 clips of makers who's work were selected as part of the exhibition - Abbie Dixon, Anne Earls Boylan, Cameron & Breen, Celine Traynor, Claire Mooney & Clodagh Molloy.

For the second episode, we spoke with Craft NI Director Katherine McDonald and Craft NI Gallery Manager & Silversmith Lotus de Wit, who both gave a great insight into the workings of how the exhibition landed with themselves and the process involved in proposing an exhibition to their space. Lotus in particular had a unique perspective from not only managing the exhibition set-up, but as a practicing silversmith, and co-founder of Art Jewellery Network, her work was also featured in the group's exhibition. Within this episode are also 10 makers clips talking about their work in the show - Angela Davison, Heather McFadden, Jackie McMaster, Natasha Rollinson, Lotus de Wit, Nicola Moran, Robyn Galway, Rosie Elwood, Sharon Adams and Tara Campbell.

The final episode of the mini-series focuses on a conversation between Contemporary Metalsmith Stuart Cairns and his close friend Contemporary Goldsmith Eddie J Doherty, where Stuart takes the podcast reins to delve into Eddie's making journey.

We have both absolutely loved working with ACJSNI on this exciting mini series, especially developing this new episode format of an interview and featured maker clips. It was reminiscent of our first ever 'pilot' episode where we both quick-fire interviewed (and slightly accosted?) graduates at the Applied Art degree show back in 2019. There is something really wonderful about hearing a maker's work being talked about and described by the maker, it's inspiring and is the biggest driving force for why we do this podcast.

While it's definitely not easy - and we understand not everyone (in fact, no-one?) enjoys hearing themselves back - every maker brings something totally new and exciting to each episode. Some may have a similar starting point, discipline or materials but each journey is completely unique and formed around a passion of their craft and making. We only regret that we didn't start our podcast sooner to capture more moments of local craft history, although would we have ever got any of our own craft work done? Probably not!

So, what's next after the final ACJSNI episode? Nothing! Well, we don't have anything definite in the pipeline, since we're both practicing makers, we are very much so building up for the biggest selling season of the year at this point. However, when we finally reach the ground again, probably in the new year, we can start to process our big plans for the future of our podcast.

I'm so proud of what we have produced with the makers we have worked with across 3 series; 19 episodes; 40 maker/guests (including us!), roughly different 6 craft disciplines, 1 funding grant awarded from Arts Council Northern Ireland, 1 collaboration and 1 episode re-recorded with Stuart Cairns because I pressed the wrong button on the microphone that time. There has probably been 2 full years worth of editing through it all but it is always worth it for those important conversations.

I like to think that with each episode we have slowly got better at talking without rambling or saying 'um', 'eh', 'amm' (we haven't) and while we never edit what the makers say (only the occasional 'um' or long pause) the editing takes the longest time, so much more than you ever think it will! We're not complaining though, it has all been a great learning opportunity, we have gained so much knowledge into the workings of each maker's practice as well as managing so many new digital skills needed for producing a podcast.

So thank-you for sticking with us, we're blown away by your support and we still can't believe so many of you tune in each episode!


Listen on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, YouTube or anywhere you can find podcasts - you can ask a voice activated speaker to 'Play Making Conversations Podcast' or listen directly on our website

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