Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Celebrating Irish craft and design with Small Island

If you came to our recent exhibition "Blossom by Blossom the Spring Begins", you'll know that most of our artists and makers are pretty local. They are mainly from Sussex, some are from Surrey and the Home Counties and a few are from further afield.

However, on Saturday we reached out a fair bit further, starting a month-long celebration of Irish craft and design with local company Small Island.

The Cuckfield-based online business was set up in 2015 by Irish-born Mandy Wilson and was inspired by the range of beautiful products she saw on her many trips to Ireland in recent years.

"Everything we sell is designed and made in Ireland by talented craftspeople," says Mandy.

"Some are just starting out and others are working in family businesses that go back generations. Influenced by both the Irish landscape and Irish culture, they all have one thing in common - a desire to bring Irish craft and design up to date and to the attention of a world audience."

This special combination of age-old tradition and new innovation results in some beautiful and unique pieces that have both a strong Irish identity and also a wide appeal.

Blankets and throws may have been woven in mills that have been in existence for hundreds of years but they are being made with different wools such as supersoft alpaca and in designs that feature bold contemporary colours.

And whilst linen has long been associated with Northern Ireland, it is now being woven in new designs and colours and used in exciting new ways such as combining it with lambswool to create very special blankets.

"2015 was the year of Irish Design and a worldwide exhibition took the work of many designers and makers as far afield as Toyko, New York, Milan and Amsterdam," says Mandy.

"It was a huge success and interest in Irish craft and design is at an all time high. The Daily Telegraph has even tagged Irish Design ‘the new Scandi’, which indicates its popularity and appeal."

Small Island's beautiful wares include blankets, ceramics, wooden chopping boards, slate coasters and cheeseboards, textiles and handbound notebooks and will be on display at the Gallery until Saturday 18th June.