Why do they make us feel warm and fuzzy? Well, ‘cute’ is simply an evolutionary trick. It’s nature’s devious way of getting you to look after otherwise defenceless offspring. Zoologist Konrad Loranz argued in 1949 that the typical baby face of big eyes, small nose and a relatively big head makes people want to drop everything and take care of them. Clever babies…
We also seem to have a fascination with tiny man-made things. Ever get excited by looking in the windows of a really detailed doll’s house? Ever see a man go ga-ga for a train set?
There’s something so charming about real life reduced down to miniature. Maybe it’s us being sentimental and remembering childhood playfulness. Maybe we’re in awe of the talent needed to create such detail. Maybe we’re just slaves to evolution. Whatever it is, it seems to be universal, here to stay and guaranteed to ensure the survival of the species for a while to come.
It’s been a while since our last blog posting. We could make excuses, but what fun would that be?! So let’s just get started with what’s new this Spring…
Well first off the weather has been pretty bipolar in our part of the world, how about you? It snowed last week. Then it was sunny and warm over St Patrick’s weekend (all the better for a Riverdance record attempt!). And today it looks angry, like another blizzard is about to hit. You really wouldn’t know what to wear. But from the land that is known to give 4 seasons in a day, ‘what’s new?’ says you.
Even though it’s SO last week, we really enjoyed St Patrick’s weekend here in Kilkenny. It kicked off on Friday with the 300-strong Purdue University marching band. Now, I’m not exactly a marching band aficionado but you couldn’t help but get caught up in the spirit of things with these guys. They had the choons and the moves, and we had a pretty good view of them starting off their show from the Castle Park.
Kilkenny’s first TradFest was a roaring success and was one of the first ‘Gatherings’ of the year. If you haven’t heard already, The Gathering Ireland 2013 is a year-long celebration of all things Irish, see here for further details… There’s a full calendar of events happening around Ireland and in Kilkenny in particular so have a look at the website and keep an eye here for all the news as the year goes on. Or why not sign up for our newsletter and stay informed
So here’s to Spring, and all it’s sunny, snowy, flowery, blizzardy goodness!
When times are a little difficult, or when you’re being threatened by a global apocalypse (as foretold by a Mayan calendar) you tend to look back to when things were simpler, easier, more charming and carefree.
Nostalgia is so hot right now… Sales of gardening and DIY equipment are up, everyone who’s anyone with a patch of ground is putting in raised beds and veggies. Ladies in the know (and a few enlightened gentlemen) are learning how to knit and sew. We’re harking back to a ‘make do and mend’ attitude connected to war-time rationing and saving of buttons and string that most of us, let’s face it, never went through in the first place.
But there is something so comforting and familiar about nostalgia. So get those rose-coloured glasses firmly on and remember that Christmas when you got a Wendy House (best ever!!!), a Rubik’s cube or a Lolo Ball. Sit back in a comfy chair by the fire with your knitting and enjoy a Babycham. Let the old times roll!
There’s something about the light at this time of year. When the sun does manage to battle its way through the cloud, the freezing fog or whatever you’re having yourself – it makes everything look so much more interesting.
It’s especially atmospheric during the magic hour around sunrise and again at sunset, when the angle of the sun is so low. According to my ‘google-machine’ this is because the light has a lot more atmosphere to travel through. So by the time it gets to us it’s all diffused and moody, acting like one of those hipster photo filters on Instagram. Textures come alive. Shadows are long and deep.
Then there’s the light that we bring – not to be too philosophical – I’m talking about the candles, bulbs and firelight that come alive once the sun goes down. Strung through tree branches, dancing in window panes giving a heartening glow and flicker.
So let’s hear it for the light that brightens the darkest season of our year, wherever it comes from.
“Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses which use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.”
- Michael H. Shuman, author of the book Going Local.
Yeah! Viva la revolution! I might be getting a little carried away, but I just found these amazing statistics about what happens when you shop and eat in locally-owned, independent businesses. The percentage of revenue that stays in the local community compared with using national or international chains is staggering. Why wouldn’t you support your local businesses?!
Back in August, our Mayor Sean O’hArgain spoke out in the local paper and suggested that “By switching one or two items a week from the huge multiples to your family run corner shop, you could be making the difference between their survival and closure.”
The next time someone asks you “where should we eat?” consider this: independent restaurateurs are a vital part of every community. They live and work in your neighborhood and make a difference through contributions of time, jobs and financial support.
So this Christmas, give a gift of loyalty and support to local, independent business, it’ll help us all out in the long term.
I do like Halloween. It happens at a very nice time of year; the weather is crisp and the leaves are golden. But there’s also the potential for lots of fun and silly carry-on; pumpkin carving, apple bobbing, costume wearing…
But why do we have to limit carving pumpkins to this time of year? It’s so much fun. We’ve carved a few of our pumpkins here in Kilkenny Design Centre and have really gotten the hang of it. I’m gutted that after next Wednesday we’ll have to throw them all away and wait a whole year to do it again. I might suggest that we keep our skills honed by carving melons, but I don’t know how that’s going to go down.
There’s something nice about the evenings drawing in and the clocks going back. But instead of hibernating we are full of beans! There’s so much happening in Kilkenny at this time of year…There’s the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival (have a look at our menu, here), Zombiefest, Rockfall and Kilkenomics.
Getting back to Halloween though, have a look at this: it’s a gratuitous picture of a dog, dressed as a T-rex. It’s magnificent. The dog even knows it, look at the smile on his face! As anyone who has a dog with an ounce of self-respect will know, if a dog doesn’t want to wear the costume they’re not wearing the costume. But this guy is loving his new look.
Kilkenny Design Centre hosts an art exhibition with a difference this autumn. Warm textures, bright colours and delicious imagery combine to create Bright Harvest – a witty celebration of nature and food in Kilkenny. Local artists have created pieces especially for this show which launches on Thursday, 25th October at 11am, tying in with the Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.
Mary Morahan from Mooncoin has been felting for the last two years, since she learned from Helena, a worker with the Camphill Community. Mary starts with sheep’s wool, which she cards herself, then layers, rolls and felts to create her own canvas. She then takes coloured wool and adds it to the canvas with a felting needle, creating a picture entirely from her imagination. “The big felted pieces take up to six weeks and small ones can go quickly. I love it.”
Facilitated by Julia Cooke and Cathy Dineen, The Umbrella Group is made up of several different art groups from the Kilkenny Mental Health Services. The artists recycle fabrics and materials that have been abandoned and discarded, making them into something new through the processes of dying, cutting and crochet. Old jumpers, hospital blankets, wool and fabric strips – once seen as having no value or relevance – are all transformed into something vibrant and humorous.
All profits from the exhibition will go directly to the artists and the Mother of Fair Love School.
The temperature has dropped, the nights have closed in and the leaves have turned. The Autumn is well and truly here. It seems no one is immune to the sniffles, maybe everyone was taken by surprise and were a little late in putting on their scarves and hats. It didn’t help that we had an ‘Indian Summer’ in September and that the All Ireland Hurling Championship Final was delayed by three weeks.
But here at Kilkenny Design Centre we are well and truly in the spirit. We have some lovely pieces in our shop that celebrate the warm palette of Autumn and the joy of getting snuggly. Have a look at the beautiful faux fur accessories from Moore and Moore – very Anna Karenina! – or the fabulous wool throw from John Hanly woollen mills.
We are also in the process of updating our evening menu to reflect the changing seasons. Our team have been developing our Autumn/Winter menu by adding all the bounties of the harvest; nuts, spices, preserves and winter vegetables have all inspired us so keep an eye on our website for the big launch on October 11th.
P.S. Check out how our Gallery windows have been transformed! Artist Tom Campbell (exhibiting with the Blackbird Gallery) just couldn’t hold himself back, and we’re not complaining
Tonight museums, galleries, artists’ studios and more will open their doors late for a free night of entertainment, discovery and adventure. This is year seven of Culture Night. Having started in Dublin’s Temple Bar the night has since been steadily spreading across the country and has grown year by year.
It does a great job of reminding people about all the different cultural activities on their doorsteps that are open all year round. It also gives the chance for families to enjoy these places together. Schoolchildren often get to go on organised trips with their classmates, but not often do the whole family get the chance to enjoy our museums and galleries together.
In Kilkenny, the National Craft Gallery is presenting a feast of culinary culture inspired by the current exhibition ‘Utensil’. You can take part in music workshops using kitchen utensils with local percussion performers, invent your own foodie sculptures or print designs on tea cloths inspired by Jennifer Slattery’s textiles.
The Carnegie Library on John’s Quay is holding a story-telling night where storytellers, poets, singers and dancers are invited to celebrate the art of telling a right good yarn, under the direction of a Fear an Ti (Irish for man of the house).
So even if the closest you usually get to culture is eating a live yogurt(!), come out for the night and see what’s on, you never know – you might get a taste for it…
I am a stationery freak. I love pens, pencils, notebooks, pencil cases, the whole shebang. I think it comes from when I was a girl and collected ‘fancy notepaper’. Anyone else? Admit it! I did think I was alone there for a while. I wasn’t quite comfortable enough to ask outright, but once I had the courage to broach the subject with colleagues it was amazing how many came out of the closet. Recently, during one of these conversations I was told about this t-shirt on www.hairybaby.com, and that was that. Fancy Paper Pride is the way forward and so ‘back to school’ time is one of my favourite times of the year.
This time of year means different things to different people. You might be heading off to college or to school yourself, it might mean freedom or it might mean servitude. Or you might be sending a little person off to school for the first time and getting emotional at the school gate. Whether you’re celebrating or commiserating might I suggest… stationery.
Does anything smell better than a new pencil case? Or a freshly sharpened pencil? Is there any better feeling than finding that perfect pen? Well check out these little beauties.
Ursula Celano is an Irish designer who makes gifts and accessories decorated with “designs that say Ireland” and her ‘cottages’ purse would make the perfect pencil case.
You might have a tough time fitting in these ‘felt pens’ from Erin Knitwear though, they are hilarious – maybe better for home use…
Then there’s the Orla Kiely memo block with her fantastic acorn print and there’s even an Orla Kiely flask – we’ve come a long way from Wonderwoman and Superman.
But if even shopping for stationery isn’t enough to cheer you up, if you can’t get over the sight of your little person’s trembling bottom lip because they’ve never had to wear a tie before, then I recommend the Gruffalo’s milk and biscuit set for when they get home and need a hug. Sniff.