Wexford People

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The humble kitchen dresser takes centre stage at Wexford Library


Ann Conway, from Dunmain House, Campile, with her dresser.

Ann Conway, from Dunmain House, Campile, with her dresser.

Ann Conway, from Dunmain House, Campile, with her dresser.

It's all things domestic and homely at Wexford Library from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. on Thursday (May 18) as the library welcomes artist/folklorist Michael Fortune across its threshold as part of The Dresser Project which explores the stories and peoples connection with the humble kitchen dresser.

The project began in other counties in 2015 and in 2017 Michael was commissioned by The Arts Department of Wexford County Council to conduct the project in his home county as part of the 2017 Bealtaine Programme.

Since the beginning of 2017 he has travelled the county from north to south, east to west, documenting dressers through a combination of photography, film and story.

In 2015 and 2016 he documented dressers in four counties but could not believe the feedback he received from County Wexford earlier this year.

'I set myself a target of finding between 12 and 15 dressers in Wexford, but within a few days I had already hit this target and within two weeks I had over 50 dressers identified around the county.'

The artist's particular interest in the subject stems from his own grandmother's dresser in Ballygarrett. Before she passed away at the age of 103, she insisted her dresser remain intact after she died.

'These dressers are more than just dry pieces of folk furniture or relics of the past, instead these are an evolving and ever changing display reflecting the experiences, lives and values of their keepers, serving as shrines as well as a practical pieces of furniture,' he said.

The Wexford strand of the project will be officially launched in Wexford Library on Thursday, with the two-hour event featuring talks, Q&A's, film screenings as well as some local traditional songs and tunes.

The event, beginning 10.30 a.m., will see Michael give a presentation called 'About the House', which he says 'looks at the home from the practical and spiritual perspective. It will include examples of how we decorate our homes as well as how we navigate them spiritually from the Sacred Heart and Blessed Palm to May Altars'.

Sandwiched in between that will be 'The Kitchen Session' where local traditional singer Aileen Lambert and accordion player Ritchie Sinnott will present a series of domestic themed tunes and songs to keep proceedings going. There will also be some screenings by award winning filmmaker Tony Donaghue

The event will conclude with another presentation by Michael, 'The Dresser Project', which features his findings surrounding the kitchen dresser and followed by a Q&A with Liz Burns (Arts Officer, Wexford County Council), Ned Kavanagh, a traditional craftsman from Kilmuckridge, and a selection of dresser owners from Co. Wexford. The project has been supported by the Arts Office of Wexford County Council. Booking is recommended as space is limited. Phone Wexford Library on 053 9196760 to secure you place. For more info visit www.thedresserproject.ie,

Wexford People