Introduced by the Ambassador of Ireland to Portugal H.E. Ralph Victory, the IPBN's first Virtual Art Gallery event inspired all who attended to see the creative side of business. Represented by founder Bernadette Clancy, the Crafters of Ireland (COI) marketplace for Irish artistic keepsakes and art gives the artisans themselves a safe space for artists to focus on their work while hosting, social media, and promotion are done for them. Victory said, "The idea for Crafters of Ireland struck me straight away as an opportunity to highlight some really great work…The more I heard, the more interested I became. It’s fantastic to see this work taking place. I’m delighted there’s a great geographic spread [out of Ireland]...and I’m looking forward to seeing what all the craftspeople joining us have to offer.”<
Glenn Gibson began the presentation by saying “I work almost entirely with wire. My background is in corporate real estate facilities and we had really boring conference calls. I fell into a can of paperclips and a sculpture came out. I was later introduced to longer bits of wire and things exploded." His work went from a hobby to more than just a way to pass the time. He exhibited at the Harvey Milk Gallery in California, later returning to Ireland to promote his craft at fairs and markets. Gibson continues to create sculptures like the 2m wing-spanned Icarus and others though he is perhaps most well-known for his trees. "That's interesting as I didn’t start making them until late in my 20-year career…and they range from a few inches to several feet tall. I use natural elements like natural amber mixed with bog oak (see Where the Baltic Meets the Bog) and mix them with [folklore]." Gibson cited a story where the motorway path was moved to accommodate trees that were said to house dark and mischievous fairies. Gibson uses copper and steel in his works, refining his tortured windswept trees and his lifesized figures with each new creation. Aside from sculpting, Gibson is involved in teaching his craft to high school students and cited his “Legacy Project” as one of the most rewarding parts of his life as an artist. Read more about Gibson here.
Carmel Kikkers, an award-winning landscape photographer, followed up with her portfolio of massive-scale images of both landscapes and man-made structures. Her medium is blown up to towering proportions so that, as she said, “viewers can walk in and explore the magic of the scene.” She has won many travel photography awards, most recently perhaps for her photos from Arizona in the United States at the Central Slot Canyons, which are deep fiery orange-toned channels of sheer rock walls that are typically eroded rock walls carved elegantly by floodwaters over time. “They are incredibly dangerous but beautiful…and the prints were so large (8 feet tall) that I had to build a big pulley system to pull the prints in the red light room through 20L of chemicals at a time. It was quite a task. And because the canyons are so fiery, it inspired me to use color for the first time in my career.” The glacier images in her next exhibition at the Galway Arts Festival were taken in Iceland while she was four months pregnant, later creating what she called the fire and ice exhibition as she merged the two images into one show. She also photographed the Bonmahon Rocks that have been so worn by water they look like skin, giving rock folds a rare soft form reminiscent of the human body. See more of Carmel's work here.
Kim Lawlor of Woodpecker Carving presented her custom handmade wood carvings, stating that she has only been doing it for two years. It all started as she was carving a pumpkin and took a liking to the craft and of course, the final result. Self-taught with an at-home woodcarving kit via intense practice, focus, and the odd youtube tutorial, Lawlor has excelled at creating complicated Celtic symbols, crests, coats of arms, and more, always on the lookout for bespoke commissioned pieces designed to meet the specifications of the client. Perhaps the most impressive of her portfolio is the Celtic Peacocks piece, which Lawlor told attendees took 132 hours to create. She admitted that doing intricate work like Celtic knots like those in the aforementioned peacock piece is, for her, the most engaging kind of carving that she does. Kim uses limewood for all her carvings, a wood that is native to Ireland. She said, "I tend to leave a bit of bark on each piece to keep it unique and special." which, in our opinion, is only an added flourish on her already unique and special artwork.
Geraldine O’Callaghan’s Loving Connemara label of hand-designed silk scarves has been heavily inspired by Ireland. The artist told us that “no matter where in the world you are, you can always have a piece of Ireland with you,” should this item be chosen as your keepsake. The name Connemara comes from Connemara marble, which is an Irish gemstone that, once polished, shows off its one-of-a-kind nature. O'Callaghan used this image as the main print on the first scarf she ever made. Her current line of silk scarves, however, is not limited to this design, as she has blended a photograph of a natural area in Ireland with an orange-toned sunset splashed image, for one. Another scarf print comes from a field and an old gate in Kerry, while another is a vibrant fuchsia-toned scarf inspired by heathers, and another, a scattered shamrock scarf with a rich gold background, hinting at a Celtic cross in the center.
David O Malley next presented his Fun Art Portraits, saying he has two main themes under which he paints: a caricature-style of painting, and a more traditional approach heavy on allegory. Both genres take a lot of inspiration from the West Coast of Ireland, as per the artist. O Malley's caricature oil paintings such as his nod to the film, "The Quiet Man," entitled The Strong Woman are typically commissioned pieces, while the other paintings (under the label “David Bog”) are, as the artist describes them, less humorous and more inquisitive, taking inspiration from local allegories and natural landscapes, such is the case with The Children and The Merchant of Eden. These images are intricately painted with a mix of soft brushing in the background and more intense, finer strokes to elicit tie finer details up close. O Malley noted that he also painted some quicker brushstroke paintings under the David Bog classification always with an emphasis on light, movement, and above all, a love of Ireland, as seen in Summer in a Mayo Meadow.
The IPBN’s second quarter was busier than usual, with the key focus on expanding the network to Porto, beyond what the pandemic has previously made possible, and to revisit our origins in Dublin with conferences and members-meet-members events respectively and much, much more.