Our 2023 Awards Artist:

Ruthie Stewart

Ruthie Stewart, Orlaith’s Studio


We are delighted to introduce our local young artist, Ruthie Stewart, who will be creating our bespoke, hand crafted 2023 awards in a beautiful, ceramic finish.

When we went to tender we were looking for a local artist who could craft something special and unique for our inaugural event.

We were keen to showcase the fantastic creative talent that exists within the region, and wanted to ensure that we supported local and aspiring creative entrepreneurs, who play such a vital role in contributing towards a sustainable, vibrant and culturally rich economy across the Island.

Ruthie shares her own personal story and reflection for you below. We know that you’ll love her, and her work, as much as we do!

Ruthie Stewart

“We all need our own space, as for me? I started Orlaith’s studio as my space for complete creative freedom. As far back as I can remember I’ve always loved making things (mostly messes).

Art has always been a source of joy, comfort and self expression for me, but it also became a helpful coping mechanism when, aged 15, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s disease, more often than not, is an invisible illness and art was a way for me to portray how it felt to live in a body that looked normal, but was damaged inside. At times throughout my teenage years I felt utterly broken, but throughout my sleepless nights and hospital stays art remained an escape for me, to disappear into a canvas or piece of clay.

I fell in love with pottery when I was about 12 years old, that’s when I first stared attending a local kids’ pottery class. If you know me, you’ll know I that am NOT a morning person, but nevertheless every Saturday morning without fail, I would get up and go to class, because I loved it so much.

My teacher, Andrea McCullough Alderdice, was a constant source of creativity. We never did the same thing twice, whether it was fantastical creatures, funky flower pots or her famous tripod pots, there was always something new and exciting. I loved these Saturday morning classes so much that I continued attending them for the next few years, even though I was strictly speaking – no longer a ‘kid’.

The years 2020-2022 turned out to be a particularly tough time health wise, but I leant on the three most important things to me; my faith, my family and my art. Even if it was just angrily scribbling on a piece of paper with a biro, I continued to create.

Now, in remission, I relish in the freedom I have of being able to enjoy the simple things in life, like being able to walk unaided, explore the world again and most importantly diving back into art.

We converted a shed in the garden into a makeshift art studio for me, and over the space of a summer it became my perfect little piece of heaven.
Eventually, I was able to buy my first kiln which I nicknamed Patricia.

This opened up a whole new realm of creative possibilities for me. To be able to create pottery right from my home, was unimaginably exciting. I got to sculpting right away, creating characteristic ceramic creatures, making merry wee mugs and firing funky flower plates.

I started taking on commissions, which was new and thrilling. And then one day I got a call from Simon Bruce of 2BCreative. He’d been going through some tenders and had spotted a potential opportunity for Orlaith’s Studio. I got in touch with Danielle McCormick who explained that All Ireland Sustainability were hosting a sustainability awards night in October, and they were looking for an artist to create the awards.

Sustainability and being environmentally conscious has always been an integral part of Orlaith’s Studio. Nothing goes to waste in my studio, every scrap of clay is recycled into slip and all my packaging is recyclable. To have the opportunity to work with a company that aligned with my vision for Orlaith’s studio was perfect. Part of me was terrified. It was an incredible opportunity, but I was just starting out. However, I sketched a few ideas and put a proposal together. Danielle and I met up for coffee and discussed our ideas, convinced she would go for a more established artist.  To my surprise, she took a chance on Orlaith’s studio, and I can truly say this has been the greatest creative experience and opportunity I have had so far. To have the honour of making these awards and know that people will be taking home my work is just unreal, and for that I owe Danielle a huge than you!

So that’s the story of Orlaith’s studio – up until now, but there’s plenty more to come so watch this space ❤

Love Ruthie”

Ruthie Orlaith Stewart
Orlaith’s studio

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