Grainne Williams
BA (Hons) Product Design and Craft

The Roots Series is a collection of decorative tools which reference how traditional food and craft practices can connect us to our cultural and ancestral heritage through the skills and knowledge that their performance creates access to. They explore the similarities between traditional food and handicraft practices in relation to my Irish heritage. Both live in the domestic environment, both are traditionally the productions of female labour, both are passed down orally, and both are fragile; they require inheritance otherwise they’ll be lost to time.

The tools utilise the conventional forms of garden tools, established in their function to nurture and cultivate the land for food, which are then cut into to transition the functional into the decorative. The water jet cutting process follows digital patterns translated from motifs I have crocheted following historical Irish Lace patterns. This approach lends from traditional aesthetics and connects to the historical and ancestral legacy attached to cottage industry Irish Lace productions. The process is founded in traditional craft practices, but employs a partnership between the hand-made and the machine-made, using new material technologies to transform traditional techniques. Crocheting the forms physically allows to me to reconnect to the traditional skills of my ancestors and maintain them for another generation.

The handles are cast from potatoes. Their historic relationship to Ireland is illustrative of Irish history, heritage, culture and resilience. As food tells us who we are and can be used as a signifier for collective identity and culture, it was the Irish who were known as ‘potato-eaters’.