Carol O’Callaghan takes a look at the Glucksman gallery’s craft fair ahead of its launch by fashion designer Sonya Lennon next Friday night.
Expect to find a variety of goods including ceramics, glass, woodturning, jewellery and 3-D printed products to prompt a Christmas gift purchase.
Craft and designer-makers will sell their wares to shoppers looking for a gift that’s not mass produced at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery at UCC, Cork.
Most of the products on show are made by hand and produced in small enough quantities that they also offer something more exclusive, without stressing your budget.
Now in its ninth year, the fair has successfully weathered recession and expanded to fifty-six stall holders this year, selling a mix of ceramics, wood turning, lighting, textiles, furniture and jewellery.
But the weekend is also an opportunity for the gallery to expose its core function as a place where art is shown to a wider public, who may not otherwise visit, but might be tempted by the initial draw of a retail opportunity to come back in future to view some of the regular art exhibitions.
Shoppers and browsers who are regulars at the fair will see some of the same faces as in previous years behind the stalls, but in addition to their new products developed in the last twelve months, there are ten new stall holders.
“We’re trying to bring in a new design element as well as craft,” says Rachel Hobbs , who has run the fair for the last three years and who, as part of her remit as the Glucksman’s retail and development manager, has expanding the gallery’s permanent shop offering beyond typical art books and greetings cards, to include crafted design.
One such newcomer is Karen O’Sullivan, who has used 3-D printing processes to make nylon, she then hand dyes the yarn which forms the basis of her Hidden Cycle Path neckpiece, which is one of a new jewellery range she’s launching at the fair (€360).
Another newcomer to watch out for is ceramicist Luke Sisk, whose keen interest in modern architecture and interior design has led to the development of functional objects which are influenced by modern structures.
At the fair, you’ll see how he has combined clean lines with bold colours in his bespoke Cog cups (€37).
He’s also selling work which is the result of a collaborative effort with designer and illustrator Lily Corcoran of Petal To Petal.
Taking his ceramic skill and her interest in the Irish tradition of lace making , the finished products comprise a range of hand thrown vessels made by Luke, on which Lily has applied a lace-like freehand illustration.
Each vessel is thrown by hand, illustrated on, glazed and fired twice. Every single one of the vessels is completely unique in form, size and thickness with coloured glazes and organic freehand illustrations in pencil which are then fired (€40/€45).
Joining them is Kevin Corcoran whose Hygge nightlight holders are made of concrete, a much-maligned material, synonymous with building sites and not with small-scale designs for domestic interiors.
Kevin’s repurposing of the material has involved sanding it to reveal a refined polished finish with the aesthetic of stone, and the inclusion of interior finishes like metal to reflect the glow of the candle, along with a practical waxed finish to protect the porous concrete from oils and candle wax, along with felt pads to protect surfaces (€12.50).
But Rachel stresses that it’s not only new makers and new products that bring the crowds, but also the fact that shoppers are able to meet the product makers.
“People buy off the people they like,” she says.
“The products can be a feature, a talking point, with a story behind them to tell to whoever you give them to.”
Prices vary but you can expect to see items costing as little as €5 for ceramic tealight holders and wood cut Christmas tree decorations, with more expensive items like lamps and furniture going for prices in the hundreds of euro.
And for parents who’d love to tick off a few items on their Christmas shopping list under one roof, but have sticky-fingered little ones who can’t be let loose among the ceramics, the gallery is holding a specially organised craft workshops at a charge of €8 per child, to keep them occupied while you can have both hands free to roam the stalls, and maybe even have time to sit with a coffee in the downstairs café, overlooking the verdant lawns of UCC.
Glucksman Craft Fair, Friday 11th - Sunday 12th November. Entry €5. www.glucksman.org
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