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Helen O'Shea

Based in Cork, Ireland

Helen attained her Masters by Research in 2021, which focused on new narratives for waste plastics. In 2017 she graduated with a first class BA (hons) degree in Contemporary Applied Art from CIT Crawford College of Art and Design.

Her work has been exhibited internationally such as part of Discovery in Tresor Contemporary Craft Fair, Basel, Switzerland also in China as part of Irish Wave 3 & 4.

She has undertaken residencies in Cill Riallaigh also with a mentoring role in CCAD and received support from Arts Council in 2015 to undertake a residency in Iceland. 

Her work has been highlighted in Crafts Magazine (UK) and featured in Irish Arts Review.

2021   Video by Mike Hannon supported by MTU Crawford College of Art and Design.

September 2018

In the initial years after leaving school I first trained as a Chef and this interest has remained with me. I then attended the Grennan Mill Craft School in Kilkenny, where I got a good grounding in textiles, print, ceramics and metalwork. This time left a lasting impression on me.


While raising a family I worked in a youth work setting for twenty years where I delivered arts and crafts and catering programmes.


I went back to education to focus on my own work. I explored the field of creative textiles and fine art textiles eventually finishing my degree in contemporary applied art.


In 2015 during my residency in Iceland, what created a strong impression was the way materials were utilised to the fullest. Eating a lot of fish creates a large amount of waste fish skins. To use this as a resource, they redeveloped a process to make the skins into fish leather, which is sold to the high end fashion industry. This idea of extracting more out of waste is what has stayed with me and is the basis of the work I now make.


I am a beachcomber and have been alarmed by the number of plastics washing up on our beaches, even mistaking plastic bags for seaweed when swimming!  I began gathering these materials and enjoy the challenges of responding to these used plastics.

Exploring and deepening my understanding of the material has been one of the driving forces of my studio development. I want people to view and think about waste plastic as the valuable resource it is.

Helen is a member of Backwater Artists Group

Cork Textile Network

Design & Crafts Council of Ireland

Visual Art Ireland.

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