Christmas Gift Ideas from the Irish Arts Review

giftguidegraphictxtIreland’s galleries are displaying some of the best works from their resident artists in a series of winter shows this Christmas. In Dublin, the Balla Ban Art Gallery Christmas Show takes place from 1-24 December, bringing a selection of the gallery’s most popular artists together. Commissions will also be taken for portraits andcaricatures. Gallery @ No. Six at 6 Anne Street South, Dublin 2, will be hosting its Living Art Winter Exhibition, which will showcase the original work of four international artists and twenty Irish artists. The show will run from the 1 December – 22 January. 2020artgallery will be offering a selection of works from its artists right up until Christmas Eve. For a collectible gift, look no further than a Sponsors’ Portfolio from Graphic Studio Gallery. The portfolios are made in a limited edition of only 75 and include commissioned work from a contemporary Irish writer, and four visual artists who create a unique fine art print: Colm Toibín, Elke Thonnes, Gwen O’Dowd, Cliona Doyle and Aoife Scott are the featured artists this year. Cork’s K Gallery and Waterford’s Solo Arte have joined forces once again this year in bringing a wide and varied selection of art to Cork in advance of the Christmas market. On 11 December, the Galleries are jointly holding a pop-up Christmas sale in the newly refurbished Kingsley Hotel in Victoria Cross, Cork. The event will take place from 10am-6pm with paintings and sculpture for sale on the day. Artists featured will include John Morris, James Brohan, Arthur Maderson, Kenneth Webb, Michael Flatley and Tony O’Connor. The Wexford Arts Centre will host a members’ exhibition and gift fair opening on 2 December until Christmas Eve. Handmade works on offer range from bronze sculptures to pottery to handwoven rugs, each a unique work. But if you don’t feel like braving the madding crowds, ArtClick.ie is encouraging gift hunters to shop Irish online. Its online gallery is home to an eclectic mix of original art and prints featuring over 120 Irish artists, all delivered to your door.

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Perhaps you don’t want to be spoilt for choice and there is one particular artist whose work you or a loved one would want to see under the tree this year? Marie-Louise Martin‘s studio in Ballsbridge, Dublin is preparing for her studio open days on the first two Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings in December. During these days she will demonstrate printing steelplate etching and original drawings, dry point prints, as well as calendars and cards will all be available. Chimera Gallery in Mullingar is exhibiting the work of Sughi which, although very modern in its style, has been compared to Seurat’s painting. Sughi’s figures shade themselves with sunglasses and floppy hats blending modern and traditional art subjects and techniques perfectly for the discerning collector. Art Loves Belfast is offering a suite of prints from John Kingerlee’s work, including heads, landscapes, pneumas, rub-backs and SRIK series collages that speak to his longstanding admiration for printed images and media – from books to cigarette cards, postage stamps to sweet wrappers, underground tickets to hotel notepapers. Perhaps the artist whose work you would most like to see is a little closer to you? If you have an artist amongst your family and friends who yearns for a little more confidence or more training in techniques, the Schoolhouse for Art in Wicklow runs over 50 art classes and workshops throughout the year, aimed at groups, aspiring and professional artists. So why not encourage a loved one with an interest in art to start a new hobby or rekindle an old one in the new year with a Schoolhouse for Art gift voucher?

A collectible book is always coveted by bibliophiles and Cambridge University Press has brought out the perfect gift for admirers of Samuel Beckett. The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume 4: 1966-1989 is available to buy both individually and as part of a set comprising volumes 1–4. This last volume covers the final 24 years of Beckett’s life. During this time, he continued to produce major plays, won the Nobel Prize and struggled with his increasing fame and the privations of old age. The four-volume set makes available a comprehensive range of letters by one of the 20th-century’s greatest literary figures. For more specialist subjects, Cork University Press has published Contentious Terrains: Boglands, Ireland, Postcolonial Gothic by Derek Gladwin. This book provides a political and geographical history of how boglands are represented in modern and contemporary Irish literature. It is a cultural work of huge scope and draws on a range of Irish writers to provide a unique insight into the impact of bogs on Irish culture and psyche. For a bigger slice of Irish culture, Wordwell has produced four new books that consider heritage and tradition. The Gate Lodges of Leinster by Jak Dean is a gazetteer of the 4,285 examples of our built heritage that are fast disappearing. Archaeologists Matthew and Geraldine Stout in the Bective Abbey Project have produced an essential study for those interested in the Cistercian order and medieval Ireland. Death and the Irish is a poignant, yet often hilarious salute to what the Irish do best. Sean Ó Súilleabháin has written Wicklow Bound: A Seasonal Guide. The book details, month-by-month, the subtle changes to be observed in the countryside and its flora and fauna, interwoven with cleverly linked literary references and insights on the history and usage of the Irish language, traditions and customs.

For something a little special, head to the Marvel Room in Brown Thomas Dublin, which is offering a selection of limited edition and bespoke gifts sourced from the world’s most luxurious designers. The Marvel Room is a space dedicated to showcasing the finest selection of carefully curated gifts guaranteed to surprise on Christmas Day. For the first time, a gift expert service will be available – a team of 15 specialists to help ensure Christmas shopping is as pleasant an experience as possible. The gift experts can also create bespoke gift hampers to suit all gifting occasions and budgets. Still looking for the perfect gift, then RDS Membership might fit the bill. By becoming a Member of the RDS you will support its philanthropic work in the arts, agriculture, business, equestrianism and science, as well as availing of exclusive access to the RDS Members Club and access to reciprocal clubs worldwide. Or how about some champagne or artisan wine from Bubble Brothers, who offer a personalised champagne label service, bespoke mixed cases, and gift wrapping, available online and at their stores. If all your shopping has left you tired and hungry, retreat to The Westbury in Dublin, where Wilde Restaurant celebrates the finest Irish produce, combining much-loved local dishes with classic cuisine from around the world, all served in the 1930s-inspired dining room or the secluded corner snug overlooking Dublin’s Grafton Street.

The National Crafts and Design Fair takes place in the RDS Dublin from 30 November to 4 December and will gather the very best of Irish designers under one roof. The event prides itself on showcasing traditional talents as well as new skills in all areas of crafts and design, with many of Ireland’s top designers creating special ranges for the fair. Among those featured will be Anna Vahey Casey of Ana Faye bags, whose creations are refined and elegant, using pure clean geometric lines juxtaposed with elegant curves. John Dunn of John Dunn Automata specializes in hand-made mechanical toys and sculptures in wood and metal. Figures are generally carved in limewood, while mechanisms are metal and birch plywood. Collectors can choose from small scale limited editions and also larger one-off sculptural pieces for children and adults. Pieces can also be coin operated, which makes them perfect for use as donation boxes. Erika Marks will be displaying her ‘Constellation’ brooch at the fair. A jeweller influenced by the work of early civilisations, she aims to evoke a feeling of ‘contemporary antiquity’ and a sense of mysterious origin. In the last two years, she has been focusing on gallery work, currently making large brooches depicting the night sky and different constellations, inspired by a fascination she has long had with the stars and an obsession with maps and charts. She has recently started working on a collection of metal bowls that explore the connections between people and places. Garret Mallon will show pendulum earrings; Tony Laverick‘s ceramics, which have been exhibited worldwide, will be on display, and Letterfrack graduate Martin Gallagher will show some of his furniture, handmade using a combination of traditional techniques and modern technology to create distinctive contemporary pieces.

If fine jewellery is what makes your beloved’s heart beat faster, then head for Boodles in Dublin. There is always a story behind Boodles jewellery and in 2016, the company introduced ‘Prism’, a collection taking inspiration from the work of Parisian artist Sonia Delaunay, which incorporates bold colour combinations within geometric diamond settings. Combining exquisite craftsmanship and the finest traditional values, Boodles aims to create beautiful, unique and contemporary jewellery designs. Fiona Mulholland is the designer behind Mulholland Jewellery, which has created the ‘Glow’ and ‘Spectrum-diffusion’ collections, a sophisticated and funky fusion of innovative design thinking and traditional craftsmanship. If you are nervous about buying jewellery for someone and you are trying to get the balance right between traditional and contemporary, Art Deco strikes the perfect note. John Farrington Antiques in Dublin currently stocks a large selection of Art Deco jewellery and offer a wide selection of engagement rings to make this Christmas one to remember. If you are looking for a particular gem, John Farrington Antiques also has an extensive collection of natural ruby, sapphire and emerald gem stone pieces. For a truly unique gift, consider the The Store Yard in Portlaoise and the Silver Shop in Dublin, now marking 35 years in Dublin’s Powerscourt Townhouse, the Silver Shop offers fine period silver and gold jewellery as well as Antique Irish and English Silverware. The Store Yard is a treasure trove of vintage jewellery, furniture and antiques, beloved of interior designers and film location companies.

For those who like their jewellery to be evocative of the Irish landscape, Martina Hamilton has been inspired by the coast of north Sligo to create the Shore collection. Martina works from her studio in Sligo town with a small team of master goldsmiths, who focus on delivering striking contemporary statement pieces, around which complementary collections are then created. She works exclusively in hallmarked sterling silver and gold and launches two new collections each year. Her ‘Link’ collection, inspired by her experiences unearthing her heritage on Dernish Island off the coast of Sligo, will be launched in November. Niamh Utsch has been working for 20 years from her gallery, NU Goldsmith, in Dingle, Co Kerry. Niamh is one of the few goldsmiths making her own work in her workshop and only selling from her gallery, so her work is truly exclusive. There is a constant change of design in the gallery as each piece is individual. For something that will be very personal, Niamh accepts commissions for bespoke pieces. For music lovers, the jewellery of Silverstone Dimensions celebrates the craftsmanship of Irish traditional musical instruments and the beauty of the land and seascapes of east Cork. Silverstone Dimensions’ large and varied range of distinctive and vibrant jewellery is designed and handmade in Midleton, County Cork by Shmuel Yolzari and his wife Mairead. Their jewellery is made to reflect the lifestyle of the modern individual and is imaginative, wearable and enduring. There is playfulness to the work which is reflected in handmade pieces with reversible and interchangeable designs. They are inspired by a combination of traditional and contemporary designs and techniques. Colour, shape, movement and sound play a large part in their design process as do the materials they choose to work with.

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