Following an invitation from Cork Craft & Design (which we happily accepted – I’ve always wanted to visit Ireland) for a cultural exchange of sorts.
Cork Craft & Design is a voluntary organisation of Cork craft makers (comprising of all craft disciplines). Its aim is to represent all professional craft makers within the City & County of Cork, working towards making the area a recognized city of excellence – Cork Craft Month (5th August – 5th September) is an important tool in this.
This was an opportunity not only to visit Cork Craft & Design but to share ideas and to research Irish based makers. We had been invited to talk about how we work as an Art & Craft gallery, combining both exhibitions and Craft Space. It is our ethos as Mission gallery ‘to nurture development and to push the boundaries of Visual and Applied Art’, offering exhibition, Craft Space and Residency opportunities to both emerging and established artists and makers.
Having arrived and met Carmel Creaner, CCD’s Secretary (and my guide for the trip), we headed out into Cork – first stop: Designworks Studios, Cork. A beautifully curated jewellery gallery and workshop space run by jewellery designer Tuula Harrington, renowned for hand-selecting Ireland’s most prestigious and talented jewellery designers and goldsmiths. Following a tour of makers work, Tuula, Carmel and I fell into conversation over the importance of aiding new and emerging makers – not only through volunteering and internships, but offering forums to which these makers can be introduced to those already in the industry.
A brief visit to the English Market for some much needed sustenance, followed by a visit to the Lavit Gallery. The Lavit Gallery is one of Cork’s longest established galleries, dedicated to promoting the work of artists and makers who have achieved the highest artistic levels ranging from the traditional to the contemporary. Filled fit to bursting – it was hard to know where to look first!
Onwards to Mary Enright’s Goldsmith & Jewellery Gallery in Kinsale, and a sneak peak at a new collection she’s working on (simple yet beautiful) for IJL: International Jewellery London. A quick detour to Enibas and coffee then to the main event of the day – the launch of Cork Craft Month with the curated showcase exhibition of Motive, at the Old Mill, Kinsale. A chance to see some selected makers work, nicely curated by Stephen McNamara (the sheer amount of vinyl lettering was phenomenal, yet it brought the whole exhibition together in a simple and effective way – vinyl and I do not get on by the way).
Having met some lovely makers and seen examples of high quality work, it was fair to say that the first day had given me some food for thought!
An early start (with a full stomach) for day 2 – Cork Textiles Network’s Re:View exhibition was first point of call. The presentation at the ready (and slideshow working – thankfully), I introduced the network to Mission Gallery – a selection of exhibitions, craft space, makers, education and aims. The Re:View exhibition itself is held in Macroom. A large space can sometimes be daunting yet it had been filled well – the work had been curated in a way as to draw you around the room, allowing each maker their own exhibition space which merged well with the next.
A short car trip through lovely countryside to Tony Farrell’s workshop and an array of hand-turned bowls and platters await us – elm, beech, oak and lime. The Clay Works exhibition awaits us (although still being set-up), fortunately due to Carmel’s forward planning this does not impede us – we are expected and are free to wander through The CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery. Even in its unfinished state it is easy to see that the exhibition will be a success!
The Cork Craft & Design Pop-up shop at the Douglas Village Shopping Centre conveyed how effective it can be to take Craft out from a gallery environment. As most galleries or Craft shops will know it can at times be a challenge to introduce the general public (who are not used to visiting art establishments) into a space like this yet the pop-up shop seemed to do this easily.
Back again to the city centre and to the collective studios at Sample Studios. A visit to Nuala O’Donovan’s studio is on the cards and I’m getting just a little excited! A sculptural ceramicist based in Cork, her work is pattern based, intricate as well as pristinely clean. From there we visit Lesley Stothers with her wire spoons and paper pieces at her very organized studio and Thomas Campbell at his somewhat less organized but equally creative space.
The day underlined the importance of keeping in touch and working with others within a creative space – of not only creating work but of discussing/sharing/swapping/chatting/arguing ideas and concepts. To look for opportunities to broaden our own and other’s practices and to find Craft’s place within a business orientated society.
Mission Gallery and I would like to thank everyone (especially Carmel and Tony) for this fantastic opportunity of viewing a small snippet of Cork Craft & Design and to wish the very best to all with their own practices. This exchange is a relationship we hope to build on in future, and following the trip we would like to offer a Maker in Focus opportunity to selected Irish makers (names to follow soon)…
Go raibh maith agat