The publication of a stunning new book documenting the history of Irish linen and the people who crafted it will be celebrated at the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus on Monday June 18, 2012.
Irish People, Irish Linen, by acclaimed historian and author, Kathleen Curtis Wilson, was almost 10 years in the making and involved many trips from her base in San Francisco to Northern Ireland, where she is a visiting scholar and honorary fellow at the University of Ulster’s School of Art and Design, a leading provider of Art and Design education in the UK and Ireland.
For more than 400 years, Irish linen has clothed men, women, and children from birth to death — the rich and powerful, poor and pitiful alike.
Into this cultural history, Curtis Wilson weaves personal narratives and the words and songs of individual spinners, factory workers, and out-workers such as Sarah McCabe, who created fabulous linen lace; Sarah Leech, who wrote poetry as she spun fine thread; the three Patterson women, who worked in Mossley Mill for a total of 100 years; and the Herdman brothers, who settled in Co Tyrone to build a mill and a utopian community.
Lavishly illustrated with almost 200 photographs and engagingly written, each chapter tells of art, social and economic history, design, architecture, technology, and cultural traditions that celebrate the linen industry.
Says Kathleen: “I spent nearly 10 years compiling background information, personal stories, and photographing Irish linen in fashion, industry, and utilitarian home use.
“I met many talented and interesting people at the University of Ulster and in the Northern Irish arts community during my extended trips to Belfast. Monday evening is an opportunity to say thank you for all their encouragement, support, and contribution to the final publication.
“From the beginning, I envisioned the book as a vehicle to celebrate the industry and the people who made it synonymous with elegance, purity, and desirability on a global scale.
“I thought this fascinating success story needed to be told in a readable style, enhanced with gorgeous images for anyone interested in Northern Ireland’s cultural history to appreciate.
“It took a lot of time, money, and travel across the island to accomplish my vision but I am pleased with the results; I hope others will find my way of telling the story as compelling as I do.”
Kathleen Curtis Wilson will be speaking at the University of Ulster’s Belfast campus, York Street, on Monday 18 June 2012. The event begins with a reception at 6pm. Everyone is welcome, but places must be reserved by contacting: 028 95367243 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Irish People, Irish Linen by Kathleen Curtis Wilson (ISBN: 9780821419717) is available to buy from Ohio University Press: www.ohioswallow.com and: www.eurospanbookstore.com
Copies can also be purchased on Monday night.
Kathleen Curtis Wilson is available for interview.
CAPTION: Kathleen Curtis Wilson, author of Irish People, Irish Linen
Note for editors:
Kathleen Curtis Wilson is the author of Uplifting the South—Mary Mildred Sullivan’s Legacy for Appalachia and Textile Art from Southern Appalachia: the quiet work of women. She guest curated a multi-venue international exhibition by the same name. A renowned authority on Appalachian crafts, Wilson was craft section editor for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia. She lives in Alameda, California.
Media & Corporate Relations
University of Ulster
Tel: 028 90366386