Filter This collection: Helen Lillias Mitchell Archive

  • Title: Helen Lillias Mitchell Archive
  • Reference Code: IE/NIVAL LM
  • Level of Description: Collection
  • Creation Dates: c.1940 - 2000
  • Extent And Medium: 12 archive boxes of assorted materials and documentation including correspondence, images of work, exhibition related documentation, press cuttings, notebooks, works by the artist including watercolours, drawings, christmas cards, woven works, weaving samples, items relating to teaching at NCAD, writings, publications, research trips, administrative documents for societies and awards, photographs, VHS tapes, film spools.
  • Creators:
  • Repository: NIVAL

Scope and Content

Helen Lillias Mitchell: 1915 - 2000.
Helen Lillias Mitchell MRDS MRHA was an Irish artist and teacher. She was the founder of The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers and the Weaving Department at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin.
Born in Rathgar, Mitchell showed a talent for art from an early age, attending painting classes with Elizabeth Yeats. She studied painting under Dermod O’Brien at the Royal Hibernian Academy before going on to study sculpture at the National College of Art and Design. From 1937 to 1938, she lived in Switzerland, studying sculpture and clay modelling. Mitchell won second place in the RDS Taylor Art Award in 1940, for her statue 'St Patrick Struggling in his Soul for Peace'. In 1946, after World War II, she opened a Weaving Workshop at 84 Lower Mount Street, Dublin, where she developed her Golden Fleece emblem. From 1949 she also became a regular attendant of Carl Malmsen's craft school at Viggbyholm, Sweden to study traditional techniques of spinning and weaving. Numerous students attended Mitchell's Weaving Workshop and in 1951 she was appointed to open a Weaving Department at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. From here, she taught spinning, weaving and dyeing up until her retirement. Mitchell had a particular interest in craft weaving using natural fibres and dyes and studied the methods of traditional spinners, dyers and weavers in Donegal, Connemara and Kerry. In 1975 she founded the Irish Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers, and in 1978 she published the fruits of her studies in her anthology 'Irish Spinning, Weaving and Dyeing', followed in 1986 by 'Irish Weaving: Discoveries and Personal Experiences'. She maintained a lifelong involvement with the Royal Dublin Society, particularly the Society's Arts and Crafts programmes. She established the 'Lillias Mitchell Award' in 1987, an annual award as part of the RDS National Crafts Competition in the Textiles category. She was awarded an Honorary Life Member of the RDS in 1993. Mitchell continued to paint and sketch into her 80s, regularly exhibiting with the Water Colour Society of Ireland. She was elected an Honorary Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1995. On Mitchell's bequest, she established 'The Golden Fleece Award' which is an independent artistic prize fund. The Award was launched in 2001, and awards Irish artists working in all forms of visual, craft and applied arts [The Golden Fleece Award].
Helen Lillias Mitchell’s archive materials were deposited in NIVAL in 2017.


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