Josie MacAvin: Irish Set Designer

12 Mar

        When waiting to enter the theatre for my mobile seminar this past Friday, one of my friends motioned for me to go look at a display case over to the corner of The Irish Film Institute. I was surprised to see a case with two famous awards in it, an Oscar and an Emmy.


            I only had time to briefly glance at the name and plaque behind the two awards, but after returning to my apartment I had time to research the winner of these awards, Josie MacAvin. MacAvin passed away fairly recently in 2005 at the age of 85, and made many contributions to the world of film in her life. Through my research, I learned that MacAvin began her career in 1959 with a film by Michael Anderson called “Shake Hands with the Devil”. She had a long career as art director and set designer, and she worked with many famous actors like Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts. She received her Academy Award in 1986 for best Art Direction for her work on a film called “Out of Africa”. She also received two nominations for her set design in the films “The Spy Who Came in from The Cold” and “Tom Jones”.

            MacAvin presented both of her awards to The Irish Film Institute, which is why they are on display today. The Emmy was awarded for “Scarlett”, a mini series based on the novel “Gone with the Wind”. I also learned the MacAvin is the only Irish person two be awarded both of these awards, so being able to see them the institute was a really neat opportunity.

            Learning about MacAvin was a really interesting experience for me. I came to Ireland knowing that there was a lot of great creativity in Irish culture, but I really only knew about Irish literature and Irish music. I never knew anything about Irish film and filmmaking. For this reason, I really enjoyed learning about MacAvin and about Irish media and film during our mobile seminar. 




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