Since the early days of dreaming about what Breac.House could be and what our guests would experience, one of our key ambitions was to surround ourselves with the work of as many local Donegal and Irish makers as possible. Our vision was to create a contemporary, bespoke setting within which our guests would experience a new form of modern Irish hospitality.
Over the coming weeks , we will be profiling some of the amazing makers and producers we have worked with on special collaborations. It is a real joy to work with so many talented and passionate Irish makers, producers, growers and suppliers. Every season we aim to add new collaborations to further connect our guests to this special place and its people.
When at the end of the 2019 season, we started working on new collaborations for 2020, we couldn't possibly have imagined what this year would bring, for us, our community, our country and the wider global family. Now, more than ever, we cherish all that makes us the country and people we are and the amazing creativity, innovation and humanity that surrounds us. There has never been a more important time to support our local makers and producers, who are an essential part of the fabric of our culture and society.
So, with that as our launch, we start with our friends at Superfolk.
If there is one iconic image which has come to represent Breac House, it is the shot taken in the living room dominated by the wonderful seaweed tryptech print commissioned from Superfolk. (We will talk about the oak dresser another day !). Superfolk are a team of designers and makers working in the West of Ireland, recognised internationally for designing simple, beautiful material-led objects. The studio is led by the husband and wife team of Gearoid Muldowney, a craft designer and Jo Anne Butler, an artist and architect. Their mission to share their passion for their environment is deeply infused in everything they do. Their principles and vision are so closely aligned with ours that they were the natural choice to create a piece that is both arresting and restful. As fellow residents of the West Coast experiencing the drama that the Atlantic weather naturally delivers, we began to discuss the core elements of that Atlantic coast experience - and seaweed, which is in abundance here, became the core topic for discussion.
Our guests at Breac.House experience seaweed in many ways daily – walking our local beaches, eating it in our food, drinking it in our local seaweed gin (An Dúlaman) and bathing in it in our on-site seaweed bathing ritual. And so, our beautiful block print seaweed triptych was born. It is a block print taken from an actual piece of Atlantic wakame which regularly washes up on the beaches around us. Glossy, green and silky in real life, it is a piece of marine life which demonstrates the power and beauty of the Atlantic ocean – as well as the ability of the sea to sustain us. Seaweed has many valuable properties and is used in food, drink and cosmetics due to its nutritional, healing and curative properties. As we wanted our guests to feel similarly nourished and enriched, we chose the seaweed image as our iconic piece of art in the house – there are no other pieces of art in the main living spaces as this would have detracted from its importance and the remaining panoramic views are sufficient material for the eyes.
The execution of this piece by Superfolk was meticulous and exacting, replicating traditional Japanese hand block printing methods to create a really unique object. The traditional paper used also reflects the texture of the surroundings and the overall effect is one which makes you think that a piece of Atlantic wakame has just floated into the house on the most recent tide.
So when we began to think about adding some prints to our guest rooms, Jo Anne and Gearoid were the obvious choice. Our rooms were conceived around the things guests see from their terraces so gorse, bog and of course seaweed were the immediate inspirations. As in the case all around the house, we didn't want to distract from the sheer physical beauty that greets guests from the large windows all around them. The thinking behind the drawings was to reflect elements of our natural surroundings but in a very relaxed and reflective manner. The result is a series of beautiful ink brush drawings titled Dilisk, Bog and Gorse now hanging above the beds in the rooms and offering another connection to Horn Head. As with the living room, the prints were framed in beautiful oak and hung by Rubio Alvarez from HangTough gallery. So in March this year, before the world changed for us all for a while, we had the pleasure of a great day here at Breac.House with Jo Anne, Rubio and ourselves standing back and seeing the results of our collective efforts in the rooms for the first time. The results, we believe, speak for themselves.
All images provided by Superfolk