Róisín de Buitléar worked in collaboration with three masters of glass cutting and engraving from Waterford Fred Curtis, Eamonn Hartley, and Greg Sullivan on the exhibition; CAUTION! Fragile, Irish glass – Tradition in Transition. Collectively considered, the work comments on the history and social experience of working in the Waterford Crystal factory and living in Ireland. CAUTION! Fragile not only refers to the delicate nature of glass, but is also an appeal to cherish and respect the long tradition of glass engraving and cutting in Ireland.
The closure of the Waterford glass factory in 2009 was devastating for the city and a challenge for the continued survival of Irish glass. Hundreds of glassmakers were laid off, heralding the end of an era of large-scale industrial glass making in Ireland.
Determined not to let the closure dictate the fate of Irish glass, Róisín with the glass engravers Fred Curtis, Greg Sullivan and Eamonn Hartley to create a new body of work based on expressions of their own experiences. Iconic objects from the collection of the National Museum of Ireland, and the Irish landscape provided the inspiration to make a series of pieces that were personal narratives, working under their own names in their own studios.
Included in the exhibition of 54 pieces of blown, cut, and engraved works were a series of glass instruments with which musician Liam Ó Maonlaí, has created an Irish incantation — a harmony of voice, object and soul. These recordings of original compositions are grounded in the traditional Irish music and Sean Nós style of singing, an ancient and highly ornamented style with links and similarities to other world music. Also included are oral history recordings from glass workers, recounting what life was like manufacturing crystal in Waterford and its impact on their personal lives.