Artists Cróna Gallagher and Carol mcGowan with Manorhamilton resident Pat Love
Leitrim and the north west may not be densely populated but it is “bursting” with creative people quietly working away, finely polishing their masterpieces.
On April 20 the Cluainín Community Co-Op Shop was set up on a trial basis on Main St, Manorhamilton. The concept was the brainchild of members from Leitrim Sculpture Centre and while they believed it could be popular they didn't expect it to be a “roaring success.”
Within a few weeks the Co-Op stocked over 30 local artists/ crafters/ designers, mostly from Leitrim but all from the North West.
There are household names mixed in with people unheard of and even more exciting the Co-Op has inspired people to re-assess their personal hobby with the idea of becoming full-time artists! The community project is run entirely by volunteers and the commission on produce sold is a token 10-20% of the sale cost.
The ethos is 'Produce Produced Locally' and the range of goods on show is vast from items that just cost €5 to pieces that cost a few hundred euro.
Cróna Gallagher, printmaker, writer and committee member of LSC said locals have fallen in love with the shop, “items are running out the door” and shelves are usually re-stocked with new different items that keep people coming back for another look.
The idea was first trialed as a Christmas pop-up shop, by Anna McLeod and Christine Mackey - it offered people the chance to truly “shop local” and at the same time purchase one off unique gifts.
Carol McGowan, the designer behind heartfelt gifts in Kiltyclogher , said the Co-Op gives artists an opportunity to showcase their hard work and sell it for for a fair price. Carol volunteers in the shop and she loves to meet locals as well as get to know artists she has not met before. She said lockdown was very isolating for artists but also hard because they could not physically show their goods.
Cróna said she has learned not only about so many local artists but in order to inform the customers about the products she has had to learn about the stockists' craft as well.
She said people come in and spend a long time looking at all the items, where modern art sits side by side with traditional, jewellery is displayed along with crochet, woolen blankets drape the same shelf as sculptures, modern colourful prints hang on the wall next to black and white drawings!
Director of Leitrim Sculpture Centre Sean O'Reilly says the trial Co-Op will operate until the end of this month. Then they will re-assess and look into the possibility of making it a permanent structure.
It seems like a win-win situation for artists, customers and is a unique attraction for Manorhamilton. Cluainín Community Co-Op Shop is open Thursdays to Saturdays 11-4pm.
Local Creators stocked:
RoCró Design, cards;
Kasia Macudzinska, basketry;
Caroline Rock, sculpture;
Susan O’Hara, jewellery;
Carol McGowan, hand felting;
Kevin Willis, wood carvings;
Catherine McGough, cards/paintings;
Róisín Campbell, mixed works;
Yosef Dvores, photo montage;
Soraya Ricalde, jewellery;
Marta Olborska, photography;
Neil Delaney, print illustration;
Bairbre Kennedy, ceramics;
Clare McManus, soft furnishings;
Marieke Bell, macramé/soft furnishings;
Iris H, prints;
Jane Weir, framed hand-crafted giftware;
Niamh O’Brien, upcycled homewares;
Sylvia Hoffman, crochet;
Dominic Sharp, ceramics;
Rebecca Sweeney, handspun weaving;
John Byrne, screen prints;
Marie Evans, Celtic Tree Whispers Cards
Christine Mackey, drawings;
Maria Bagnoli, lino print;
Mary T. Keown, oil painting;
Gavin O’Donoghue, painting;
Eimhin Farrell, painting;
Rachel Matthews, painting;
Nadine Bardlow, sculpture;
Sheena Malone, charcoal;
Trudy Wilson, painting;
Rossa Ó Snodaigh, Irish language books.
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