Saturday, 14 November 2015

God bless your hands: A few thoughts about the Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show.

'Doing' the big shows can be an odd thing. Sure, you meet thousands of people, sure, they are unfailingly enthusiastic (probably those who don't connect keep quiet and walk on, seeking something closer to their hearts), and there always seems to be at least one fabulous new connection with possibilities for future projects. But that is forgetting the walking in the rain through unfamiliar streets, eating (or forgoing that, a bottle of wine and snacks in a room) and a fair amount of time spent alone. The one plays off against the other. I feel some sympathy when reading Bill Bryson's travel books for the many hours, and seemingly days in his case, alone.
In the end, the benefits outweigh the times of tedium and/or stress, and I have made so many great friends through teaching and the shows that I always look forward to the next ones and don't quite know what I would do instead. It is also a great time for concentrating the mind, to consider the shape of the future, to progress projects and crystallise plans. The Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show is proving no exception to the rule and there are burgeoning friendships, new connections and time to think, as well as a drop of wine or two (sorry Ireland, I have really tried to like Guinness, but it's a no go for me).
A couple of nights with the fabulous Stella Harding have been fun (she does like Guinness, so hopefully that might make up for me?), her background makes for interesting conversations and her work is simply stunning.

Go Stella - enjoy the Guinness!

I am settling for a large glass of red and an open fire (well - a gas version, it will do)
Stella's weaving - just amazing

Back to the show. There are a different set of exhibitors here in Dublin compared to Alexandra Palace including many Irish groups and colleges. There is a strong and continuing tradition of supporting textiles through schools (home economics is still taught here and includes woodwork, metalwork, textiles etc.), leading through to lots of college and university opportunities for those wishing to pursue a creative career. The best of luck to them.
As in London, I have had a stream, or river even, of fabulous comments from visitors including

' oh wow'
' unbelievable'
' absolutely beautiful'
'Be still my beating heart. I am overwhelmed'
and the classic Irish: Accompanied by a holding of hands 'God bless your hands'. How lovely is that!

Some of the other exhibitors who caught my eye were:

Claire Woolsey. Belfast School of Art.
From Cork Textiles:

Amanda Hogan: Precious Grain

Amanda Hogan: Precious Grain
Amanda Hogan Precious Grain . This understated, small work was so moving in it's simplicity, but so beautifully constructed. I loved it.
Limerick institute of Technology Connexions project
This project is an experimental connection between two different design departments which I think has paid off handsomely. The combination of 'hard' and 'soft' materials has resulted in some really interesting, contemporary, great designs.

Limerick Institute of Technology

Limerick Institute of Technology

Limerick Institute of Technology

These were some of the highlights. My least favourite part of the show has been the placement of a large (almost life sized) singing Santa on a stand less than 5 metres away. Not only do I loath such plastic, corny and cheap looking Christmas artifacts, but he couldn't even sing in tune! Hour after hour after painful hour ... I won't be missing him after Sunday evening, I might even cancel Christmas!

One more day to look forward to in Dublin, I have been loving it all. x