Just back from a trip to Dublin’s RDS, which annually invites Irish artists, craftspeople and fashion designers to showcase their work to buyers from all over the world. This is a trade fair, not open to the general public, but it is instead an opportunity for wholesale buyers to see what is new and exciting in the creative arena here in Ireland, and to place their orders for the year ahead.
What a wonderful venue, and full to the brim of humbling talent. As my friend, encaustic artist Niamh O’Connor, and I strolled round the stalls, we spoke to many of the exhibitors. For some reason, my impression was that the majority of the stallholders were women, and it is, of course, wonderful to see women forge ahead in such exciting and creative fields.
There are several halls exhibiting the more established businesspeople, as well as up and coming artists. Monaghan, where I’m from, was well represented, with batik artist Louise Loughman, weaver Liz Christy, Brenda McGinn of Busy Bee Ceramics, and fashion designer Helen Steele, all busy with buyers.
There really is something for every taste at Showcase. Fashion is stunning, with a catwalk parade twice daily; there’s woodwork, stonework, sculpture, ceramics (check out Sarah McKenna and Ian Carty), visual art (Breda Marron and Patricia Murphy come to mind), textile art (my own favourites were Breda McNelis and Bernadette Fox), jewellery design, furniture design, home decor, giftware, soap and candle makers, and so much more.
My own special interest is, of course, in glass, and I wasn’t disappointed! There was stained glass work, blown glass (check out the work of Kerry Crafted Glass – blown 100% recycled glass), and plenty of my medium, fused glass, on offer, with gorgeous work on display from artists Jonathan Ball, Louise Rice, and my own favourite Maura Whelan, amongst others!
If you can beg, borrow, or steal a pass, make it your business to check out Showcase in Dublin’s RDS … at the very least, you can look online at www.showcaseireland.com. And don’t forget, it’s up to all of us to support these businesses, by buying local and buying handmade.