From Normal People to The Favourite, costumes worn in top TV shows and films are on display

Go behind the scenes at a new exhibition of great costumes from the Irish film and television industry and discover less costume drama and more drama about the fate of Irish costumes.

mmy nominated costume designer Eimer Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh and costume designer Veerle Dehaene founded the Irish Costume Archive Project (ICAP) to collect, preserve and display Ireland’s film and television design heritage.

Her pieces feature in The Art of Costume exhibition which opens today at Russborough House, near Blessington, Co Wicklow, which explores the relationship between actors and costumes and the growth of the Irish film industry.

The exhibition, which runs through October 16, features 17 costumes from 12 film and television productions, including Liam Neeson’s army uniform and the big coat from the 1996 film MichaelCollinsVintage pieces worn by Marianne and Connell in normal people and pieces from the Oscar-winning film The favouriteManufactured by Element Pictures, which are requested by museums around the world.

The two women work as volunteers to help preserve afterlife costumes, which they believe are “an integral part of Ireland’s cultural heritage”.

Currently, ICAP has access to temporary storage facilities thanks to Ardmore Studios in Co Wicklow where more than 300 costumes are kept.

However, attempts to obtain financial support from Irish government agencies or private companies to create a permanent archive with a full-time employee to preserve the pieces have met with a stone wall.

“We see ourselves as the custodians of these costumes and five years later we are in dire straits because we have no means of maintaining the costumes and some of them are beginning to deteriorate,” says Ms Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh.

“We went to the Arts Council and they said maybe if we do a film they could fund us. We approached the Heritage Council to have some conservation work done on the costumes but were told we were too niche.

“We went to the Crafts Council who said you are not a commercial establishment. We went to Screen Ireland, which funded our website five years ago, but that was it.”

While the iconic Michael Collins uniform on display is future-proof as it was purchased by a private collector, costumes from films and TV shows made over the past 35 years face an uncertain future.

“We have a very good relationship with Element Pictures, who produced The favourite, Room and normal peopleso as part of ICAP we look after their archive, which is really fantastic and Andrew Lowe, Co-Director of Element Pictures, is on our Advisory Board,” says Ms Ní Mhaoldomhnaigh.

video of the day

The exhibition was opened by the actor Brendan Gleeson, whose silky blue dressing gown the guard is included. From Normal People to The Favourite, costumes worn in top TV shows and films are on display

Fry Electronics Team

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