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Craft NI is pleased to announce that ceramic graduate Rachel Leary, from Omagh, has won the prestigious Craft in Business Award.

An initiative of Craft NI and Invest Northern Ireland, Rachel is the winner of the 7th annual Craft in Business Award which recognises designer-makers in the early stages of their career, whose artistic concepts display incredible potential for the development of a successful craft business.

Rachel’s work is distinctive owing to her use of ‘Egyptian Paste’ – an ancient, and little-used material, that she has made her own through experimentation and modification of the simple recipes that were available. Loving the vivid colours and glossy textures, she finds the material a perfect fit with her ongoing work of bringing microscopic organisms to life through art. You can see examples of her work at the Belfast School of Art Degree Show on until the 15th of June and at www.rachelleary.com .

Receiving her award, Rachel Leary commented  “It’s a daunting experience when leaving university; therefore it is a privilege to receive this award, which will help kick start my career within the creative industries. My passion lies in experimenting and discovering new possibilities, which is what I aim to base my practice on”.

She is full of ideas about how to develop her artistic concepts into product ranges of interest to the hospitality sector, and to the general public in Northern Ireland and beyond. With experimentation at the heart of her practice, she plans to put the award towards the purchase of a kiln which is vital to the further development of her work.

Alan Kane, Chief Executive of Craft NI said:  “Distinctive artistic flair and the ability to articulate how that can be channelled into a successful craft business is what we look for when selecting this award. Rachel has received the award not only because of the degree of innovation in her use of material but also for her ideas on how to take this forward to create future product ranges.

The craft sector is an active contributor to the creative economy in Northern Ireland. Recognising and supporting talented emerging makers like Rachel Leary is vital to ensuring this sector continues to thrive.”

Noel McClean, Invest NI Director of Life Sciences, Electronics and Consumer Products said: “Invest NI is delighted to support this student award. The standard of applications focusing on business growth and making designer products commercially viable was impressive. Rachel Leary’s entry showcased an innovative product with numerous business applications and we hope this award will support this ambitious entrepreneur achieve her full potential.”

Rachel was presented the Craft in Business Award at the University of Ulster annual graduate prize-giving ceremony on the 6th of June.

Craft NI looks forward to watching Rachel Leary’s career progress.

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