The Art of Costume Exhibition

Actor Brendan Gleeson was guest of honour at the opening of the Irish Costume Archive Project, the Art of Costume Exhibition, at Russborough House in Blessington, Co. Wicklow, 10 August. Mr. Gleeson launched the exciting new exhibition for autumn 2022 with a few words of his own.  

Mr. Gleeson said that “genius costume design can achieve the effect required by the production.” And he asked people to look carefully at the level of expertise in the costumes on display and note “the devil in the detail of the wonderful contribution made by the costume designers.” 

He was very happy to see the exotic blue dressing gown he wore in The Guard, appropriately on display in a bedroom.

Entitled “The Art of Costume”, by the Irish Costume Archive Project; the exhibition explores the relationship between actors and costumes, and the growth of the Irish film industry. Launching on Thursday, 11 August and running until Sunday, 16 October.  

The exhibition will display costumes from the ICAP collection that have been collected and preserved from some of the most prestigious film productions shot in Ireland. “The Art of Costume” exhibition features 17 costumes from 12 well known film and television productions, all revealed up close highlighting their exquisite attention to detail. 

Costumes from Award-winning Films

The exhibition displays costumes from the four-time Emmy award-winning ‘Normal People’, as well as the famous Afghan coat worn by Daniel Day Lewis in the film ‘In The Name of the Father’. The military uniform worn by Liam Neeson in ‘Michael Collins’ and Brendan Gleeson’s flamboyant silk dressing gown in ‘The Guard’.  

The exhibition also includes costumes from the Oscar winning ‘The Favourite’, as well as ‘The Crying Game’, ‘Little Women’, ‘Ripper Street’ and ‘Love and Friendship’, which was filmed in part at Russborough House. 

ICAP was founded three years ago by costume designer Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh and costume practitioner Veerle Dehaene. Eimer and Veerle both have extensive industry knowledge and experience. On the production side, Eimer has worked with directors Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan and Ken Loach, providing her expertise in costume design to them.  

Veerle utilised her knowledge as a costume practitioner to manage Joan Bergin’s costume collection at The Costume Mill in Dublin. Together they founded ICAP because they were both concerned about the afterlife of such costumes, that they believe, are an integral part of Ireland’s film heritage. The archive is now home to over three hundred costumes that are permanently stored and preserved at Ardmore Studios in Co. Wicklow. Joan Bergin was also a welcome guest at the event.

 Russborough House Educational Programme

The exhibition is also an important part of The Alfred Beit Foundation’s, who operates Russborough House, educational programme, particularly for post primary and transition year students, as it will feature a specialised workshop for students interested in pursuing costume design as a career. According to Pauline Swords, Head of Collections and Conservation at Russborough, the purpose of the costume design workshops is “to help students appreciate the relationship between character development and costume”.  

Workshop in Design

The workshops will touch on the whole design process, how the costume is related to the script, the costume plot needed to visualise the film story, and how visits to museums, archives, and libraries help to get a realistic vision of a period in history. Russborough House provides a magnificent backdrop for the exhibition, being a historic building that champions exquisite Georgian perfection. 

The Art of Costume Exhibition tickets prices start from €6.00 and children under the age of five go free, book here

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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