08 February, 2012

Le Grá Craft Studio and Gallery, Claregalway, Co. Galway

Following an invitation by Galway County Council to Galway craft-makers to organise craft activites in October 2011 for Galway Craft Month, I approached a local landlord of empty retail spaces in Claregalway with a business proposal to create 'Le Grá Craft Studio and Gallery' to showcase the work of Galway craft-makers, designers and artists. My idea was to create a space with 4 main activities

·  a gallery selling craft made locally
·  a class-room where local craft-makers could share their skills through offering workshops to the public
·  a studio space where I could work on items for upcoming exhibitions while also giving the public the opportunity to ask questions about the process of creating quilts, wall-hangings and other textile art pieces. 
·  an opportunity for the community to use the space to share their own craft skills in weekly 'drop-in' crafty mornings.

With the support of family and friends I hope I have created a bright welcoming space in the heart of Claregalway where previously there was a dark empty retail space (and sadly there are still a lot of these empty retail spaces all over Ireland). Although initially intended as a 'pop-up' shop for Galway Craft Month, Le Grá Craft Studio and Gallery is still operating as I write this article in February 2012.

The project has provided me with 6 months of work in my local community, the opportunity to sell the work of over 40 talented makers in the gallery and invite them to teach in the classroom. During this time it has been a pleasure to be surrounded by beautiful knitwear, felt brooches, children's books, silver and beaded jewellery, stoneware and earthenware pottery, ceramic giftware, fine prints, oil-paintings, hand-made soaps, soft toys and of course patchwork quilts, cushions and wall-hangings and so much more. Over 75% of the work is made in Galway and the local community has responded positively to the selection, quality and value on offer. It has been a real pleasure to see the happy faces of those who attended workshops leave with their own creations.

For more information on the project see www.legracraftstudioandgallery.blogspot.com.

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