Wednesday 22 December 2021

Season's Greetings

 Season's Greetings and a very happy xmas to everyone. Remembering loved ones both near and far, walking this earth or speckled among the stars, always with much joy. Above all keep safe and well in this our second pandemic holiday.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Annual Craft Fair

Every year, for several weeks in the month of December, Signal Arts Centre gets in to the seasonal spirit and switches its purpose from a gallery to be a venue for local artisans and hosts a lively craft fair.

Every kind of handcraft is represented - jewellery, knitting, ceramics, crochet, bookbinding, metalwork soapmaking (to name a few).

The gallery is set up like a gift shop, with something for every budget and every taste. 

Seasonal fare in the form of handmade cards and decorations are available, but many items make wonderful year-round gifts.

These pictures were taken last week when the fair first opened but the setup has already changed as I notice some items missing from these pictures, having been sold, and new stock has been brought in since. The fair is open daily (including Sundays) from 10 am to 5 pm until xmas eve, and well worth a look!

Wednesday 8 December 2021


 One of the things I clearly intended to do during this year's studio residency at Signal Arts Centre, was make some more books. I had a fabric sampler folder and thought I would make a number of cloth covered books for Signal's annual Christmas Craft Fair. Having this in mind, I bought a pair of pinking shears in order to cut the cloth but the other very important aspect of bookbinding is measure, measure and measure!

I decided fairly early on that I was going to do a simple Japanese stab binding technique and, after matching various coloured threads to various patterned cloth designs, it was a fairly simple operation. this picture shows how a piece of wire acts as a specific placeholder until I get my needle and thread to it.

On larger books I also use pieces of cardboard and lion clips to hold the covers in place while I bind. On this one I decided to use some beads for embellishment.

Here are the cloth-covered books I made for the craft fair. They are all A5 in size, but the top two are bound as landscape while the others are portrait.

I used brightly coloured paper as endpapers in the blank notebook/sketchbooks.

I had a few bits of other material so I made an A5 leather-covered book and 2 A5 vinyl-oilcloth books.

The Christmas Craft Fair runs at Signal Arts Centre daily (Sunday included) from 10am-5pm until December 24th.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

Double Estate at the Pearse Museum, Dublin

On a cold but dry Sunday afternoon a few weeks ago, I made my way to Rathfarnham for the specific purpose of seeing a couple of exhibitions at two OPW museums that are near to each other. I previously blogged about the Mary Ruth Walsh exhibition at Rathfarnham Castle here, but on the way to the castle, I first visited the Pearse Museum. Please note that due to covid protocols one must phone first and specify the time of a visit. I had seen pictures of the exhibition in a recent issue of VAN, the Visual Artists Ireland newsletter, and was intrigued enough that I wanted to see the work IRL (in real life).

Though it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by Janet Mullarney's sculptural work hanging in the middle of the first room, the set-up also forced me to carefully wend my way around the perimeter of the room to look at works individually (taking care not to step backwards!).

From across the room I recognised a colourful carborundum print by Michael Cullen (lower right). Once I discovered what the title of the piece was, the image took form in my own memory - Caravaggio's Taking of Christ can be seen in the National Gallery.

The work in Double Estate is put together by curator Davey Moor from the OPW (Office of Public Works) art collection. A poem by Emily Dickenson inspires the show and the reasoning behind the amalgamation of these disparate works. Dickenson refers to the body and the soul in her poem, and Moor latches on to these concepts as his curatorial premise. Moor's essay, along with an essay by Brian Crowley (collections curator) are printed within Oonagh Young's beautifully designed full colour exhibition catalogue.

It was good to see the Pearse brothers represented in a contemporary exhibition at this location. William Pearse, Patrick's artist brother is represented by two pieces of sculpture (not in any of these photos, but in the catalogue) and Patrick himself appears in a 1944 lithographic portrait by Sean O'Sullivan.

The second room of the exhibition contained larger wall works and several sculptures but again was dominated by a mixed media floor piece.

I particularly liked this large drawing/painting/sculpture, Boy, by David Quinn.

The exhibition has been on show in the Pearse Museum for awhile now, but it finishes at the end of the year so there are only a few weeks left to have a look!