The Creative Islanders is a new interview series showcasing some of Ireland’s brightest creative talent and enterprise. It is about people who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and possibilities and embracing their one wild life.
The interviews give a rare ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse into creative practice, motivations and mindsets- shining a light on what makes people tick, and how, collectively, Ireland is alive with creative possibility.
There is such an allure in textile design and weaving for me. Seeing a manual loom in action seems like I am travelling back in time to something ancient and wise, and hearing the loom heave back and forth has a meditative lull for me. I’ve never studied weaving but have much admiration for those who can spin myriad treads into such wondrous patterns while making sense of the what looks like a complex piece of equipment.
It was with such lure I was drawn into Fiadh Durham’s shop in Dingle last summer. Fiadh had been mentioned to me by another friend but little did I realise that she had her looms on view and makes her beautiful textiles there also. Greeted with warmth, I was immediately impressed with Fiadh gentle touch and her passion for both business and weaving.
So it is with great pleasure that we head to West Kerry for this next instalment of the Creative Islanders series with weaver, maker, and creative entrepreneur, Fiadh Durham….
What keeps you in Ireland?
So much! The people, the craic, the scenery, the towns, the clean air and of course it is home. I have always loved to travel. The list of places I want to see gets longer rather than shorter with each trip. When I was younger I had this idea that I would pursue my dreams as a designer abroad, somewhere much more exotic and different to Ireland but the more places I explore the more I appreciate living in Ireland. There are so many opportunities here, it is up to the individual to make it happen!
What makes you tick? What motivates you?
It depends on what what element of my life or work I’m thinking about but in general I love a challenge, having something exciting to work towards. I love the idea of kind of custom designing ones own life, doing it your way, its not always easy but a major driving force for me is the thrill of the unknown. It keeps life interesting!
What do you do just for the love of it?
One is listening to good tunes and another is being outdoors, whether it is running, surfing or just going for a creative ramble with my camera and headphones… soaking up ideas fresh air! I suppose we all have that thing we need to to get head space and these are mine. Growing up, I think we spent 90% outside and I think that has stayed with me.
What does the creative process teach you?
Sometimes I might question the amount of time the creative process takes and I forget how important it really is in relation to my designs. For me, following a creative process teaches me patience, discipline and it allows for design development to happen naturally. I think good designers are problem solvers and you need time for that.
Why do you do what you do?
I love what I do. I don’t think it would be possible if I didn’t. I love designing and making (textiles especially) and I think in the back of my mind I always wanted to run my own business. Its only been in recent years that I have built up the confidence to realise that I can actually do it. The rewards of your worked being loved and appreciated outweigh the many headaches of running your own business.
What were some of the key moments along your own journey that helped you to get where you are today?
Making the decision that I was in it 100%. Full time. It had to be done. Another thing for me was realising that I was in Dingle because I chose to be and not because I ended up here. It’s a dream place to live if you can do what you love.
I have been so inspired by successful creative artists and craftspeople over the years but funnily enough I’ve also been inspired by others who have not managed to make it work and if forces me to ask why and how will I do it differently.
How do you get unstuck? Any secret tools?
A bit cliché but I’d say believe in yourself and what you love.
Where do you find inspiration? Any hidden gems?
I am constantly being charmed by stunning colours and patterns around the Dingle peninsula especially but if you look hard enough I think you can find beautiful combinations in the most surprising places. I remember a speaker in art college once say that when you work as a designer that you see design in everything, everywhere you go, that doesn’t switch off. I wanted that to happen me and I think it has, so trick is catch the bug.
How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?
I try take a step back, get a bit of space from it all and then look at the bigger picture, it may be one bad day or week but things have a way of working out. Especially if you want it to, you just have to stay positive and keep going but be realistic about what is achievable too.
What key lessons have your learned about doing business or being a creative practitioner along the way? What have you learned from your ‘failures’?
First thing for me is timekeeping; you need to be disciplined. Make out a plan and give yourself deadlines if someone else doesn’t. I’m not naturally organised so I have to really put the work in to these areas, it good to have what need to happen in the next day, week, month and so on.
I had to write a detailed business plan when applying for funding and I would advise anyone setting up a business to do this.
Do you have a morning routine? Or other creative habits or rituals?
My routines always change but I do find it really helpful to have them, it keeps me grounded and healthier.
What books have inspired you? Or what websites do you turn to?
I do like to read books, especially when I’m on holidays but the things that really inspire me are more visual. My favourite weaving book is ‘Mastering Weave Structures: Transforming Ideas Into Great Cloth’ by Sharon D. Alderman
What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?
I would have liked to have more mentors in the beginning, so many things that would have been easier if I networked a bit more. You have to put yourself out there. In saying that, you have to have the confidence in your instinct. Take some advice but also know when its not right for you.
And what advice would you give to your future self?
Find a way to have a good work/life balance. I am a hard worker but I feel that surely its only all worth if if you have a healthy personal and professional life.
What is coming up next for you?
I feel that my business is at the brink of being properly launched so the next year will be all about getting Fiadh products to a much wider reach. I have big plans for online trading but the thing I’m most excited about is the new designs to come. I am investing in a multi-shaft computer aided hand loom and I will use this to create limited editions of more complex, dynamic designs. I’m so looking forward to getting stuck into that in the new year.
Thank you so much Fiadh! I look forward to following the growth of your business and talent. Clare x
Fiadh’s website is over here.
And her Etsy shop is over here.