Tribute to Harry Clarke, 10 years of preparation

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Glynis Robins brings an artistic touch to everything she creates, whether it’s in her garden, her home, or in the beautiful clothes she once made and sold in her boutique in Dalkey. People will remember the hand embellishments, knitting, crochet, embroidery and beadwork that became his signature.

Now, however, after moving to Bray, Co Wicklow, painting and drawing have become his focus as well as his two-acre fairytale woodland garden.

In her studio, a converted hay barn attached to the house, she has just completed a very special art and fashion project, a clothing collection based on Harry Clarke’s stained glass depictions of JM Synge’s 1902 poem Queens. writes to Wicklow who begins “Seven on heatwave days we let it pass / Naming the queens at Glenmacnass / All the rare and royal names / The sheepskin Wormy still keeps.

Designed in multiple panels, it mirrors the nine intricately drawn and then painted by Clarke on layered glass panels etched in up to six shades of ultramarine blue, lavish rose gold, rich ruby, blue and blue again ( according to Nicola Gordon Bowe’s description in his book on Harry Clarke) “every queen fantastically portrays, whether she is exotically beautiful, pockmarked, mean or alluring”.

Second panel. Etain: Aine wears a thin blue cord kimono over a white silk satin dress and an antique lace ruffle sketch. Headdress in white lace and blue crochet. Helen: Abby wears a blue and gold embroidered wrap skirt, a gold lamé wrap top, a hand-knitted blue cotton hooded scarf, and a turquoise and green chiffon wrap. Maeve: Maria wears a navy beaded babydoll dress with a hand-crocheted lace shrug and a silver lace headdress. Deirdre: Thalia wears a blue silk devore gown with an appliquéd black silk sash and an antique white lace shawl. Blue crochet headdress. Fand: Teo wears a long black knit cardigan with a black lurex hooded scarf. Babydoll dress in aqua silk and skirt in pale green antique lace and embroidered green silk shawl. Photography: Barry McCall

Reading Clarke’s designs and panels in a magazine a few years ago gave Robins the idea to respond by creating 28 matching outfits in a business that took almost 10 years of work and was finally completed during the lockdown. . “I used a lot of old fabrics because I collect old lace, jewelry, braid and fabrics. I still make things for the family and myself, ”she says. “It was a challenge.”

8th panel.  Haggard Queen: Abby holding a tumbler wears a blue chiffon dress with an asymmetrical hem trimmed with silver lace and Swarovski crystal.  Blue lace silk chin crepe shawl edged with silver lace.  Vamp Queen: Maria wears a blue and black polka-dot wool crepe dress with feather boas.  Sumptuous Queen: Thalia wears a fitted top in antique white and black lace over a silk satin taffeta skirt with white lace patterns appliqued and an antique white lace shawl.  Photography: Barry McCall

8th panel. Haggard Queen: Abby holding a tumbler wears a blue chiffon dress with an asymmetrical hem trimmed with silver lace and Swarovski crystal. Blue lace silk chin crepe shawl edged with silver lace. Vamp Queen: Maria wears a blue and black polka-dot wool crepe dress with feather boas. Sumptuous Queen: Thalia wears a fitted top in antique white and black lace over a silk satin taffeta skirt with white lace patterns appliqued and an antique white lace shawl. Photography: Barry McCall

The paintings pictured here by Barry McCall in Robins’ Garden are groups of queens that include Etain, Helen, Maeve, Fand and Deirdre and, in another coincidence, among the models is Aine O’Gorman, the great-granddaughter. -daughter of Harry Clarke. It’s not often that a fashion designer responds to an artist who in turn has responded to a poem, which makes Robins’ project unique and precious and its layering – black lace on gold silk, black tulle on pink lively and the glorious shawls and headdresses – could have been enjoyed by Clarke himself.

Although the clothes were not designed for sale, anyone wishing to purchase can email Glynis Robins at [email protected]

Additional vintage jewelry provided by Elva Robins at www.collected.ie

Some of the lace wraps can be found at Billie & Oso at 205 Harold’s Cross Road, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 8.


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