Cork Craft Month means it's showtime for designers 

Annual showcase offers makers an opportunity to showcase  their creations across the city and county at both online and in physical events
Cork Craft Month means it's showtime for designers 
Rock and Water ceramic vessels by craft maker Bernadette Tuite.

IN A changed world some things haven’t changed at all, or maybe they’ve just adapted to new conditions as is happening with the lovely Cork Craft Month.

Now firmly established as part of our summer schedule of events and activities, it’s something we’ve always been able to indulge in regardless of heatwave conditions or a summer of persistent rain.

Running right through August with some events filtering well into the following month, it’s organised as usual by craft collective Cork Craft & Design from its shop in St Patrick’s Woollen Mills, and will showcase over sixty masterclasses, craft trails, craft demonstrations, new product launches, open studio tours and family-friendly activities, with around 90% of them free of charge.

Cian O’Driscoll’s birch faced plywood and woven stools.
Cian O’Driscoll’s birch faced plywood and woven stools.

And, of course, there is the built-in retail opportunity across a whole slew of craft disciplines: woodturning, glass, furniture making, silversmithing and textiles, offering a very worthy opportunity to mitigate the shopping deprivation of recent months with the added virtue of supporting small businesses which are local and also offer sustainability credentials.

Sculptural glass vessel in blue by Suzanne O'Sullivan.
Sculptural glass vessel in blue by Suzanne O'Sullivan.

This year, to adapt to the times we’re living in, there’s a twist.

Operations manager at Cork Craft & Design Maeve Murphy says: “Thanks to help from the local enterprise office and the Business Continuity Voucher, we were able to bring in a consultant to help put Cork Craft Month online. We needed to increase our online presence anyway and Covid actually allowed us to do this.”

Highlights include a special programme of virtual free events, with one Cork Craft & Design member committing to run a virtual demonstration or studio tour each day throughout August. These will range from a Raku firing demonstration from ceramist Brendan Ryan, to furniture making with Cian O'Driscoll, all of which will be available to view on social media.

While the core programme this year will be digital at www.corkcraftanddesign.com, a selection of physical events will take place now that we have more freedom of movement. If you like the idea of attending an event in person, especially if you’re someone for whom Cork Craft Month is an annual excursion to look forward to, Maeve says, “Our showcase event is in the Working Artist Studios in Ballydehob. It is laid out for social distancing with separate entrance and exit, and apart from the craft makers who work upstairs.

“Just across the road, three basket-making sessions will run during Heritage Week (15th-23rd) at Levis’ Bar, but only small numbers are permitted.”

Although the month from its inception has been committed exclusively to designers and makers who create in Cork, this year sees an outreach to Craft Northern Ireland, which runs its own annual August Craft Month, to select a craft maker from each location to visit the other’s region during August to exhibit their work. The Cork Craft & Design shop will serve as the exhibition space for this, along with being open daily for retail.

Branching out even more but maintaining the local connection is a collaborative project to please craft and food lovers combined.

Stemming from an idea by Diane Keating from The Chocolate Shop, traders in Cork’s English Market will pair up with craft makers, so expect to see the likes of chef turned craft designer and maker Martin Horgan and his Wu Tong sticks, designed to help those of us challenged by traditional chopsticks, working with Maki Sushi Rolls, the first sushi hand-rolling shop in Ireland.

Returning to West Cork, or at least from the comfort of home with the internet to hand, poet Theo Dorgan is launching the West Cork Creates exhibition virtually on 8th August.

It’s his poem Harvest Moon which is being used as inspiration for the development and creation of new work by 37 local artists and craft makers in response to the theme of harvest. Online access to the exhibition will continue until September 14 at westcorkcreates.com with all works available for sale.

Back to Cork City and it’s time to support and nurture new talent by checking out the Emerge exhibition which is exclusively for up and coming makers. This includes students from the three design colleges:  CIT Crawford College of Art & Design, Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa and St John's Central College. This showcase of work happens at The Gallery at No 46 on Grand Parade from August 6-28.

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