Sunday, April 29, 2012

Irish designers donate works to raise funds in Design for Life cystic fibrosis fundraiser

I love a good raffle but I've never seen a fundraiser quite like Design for Life. Every single prize is the covetable work of an Irish designer, donated to raise funds for a very worthy cause.

The incredible prizes range from organiser Jenny Walsh's stunning Creature Comforts cabinet (inspired by a child learning to walk and valued at €2,600) to the double-take Comfort Carafe by Locker 13 (a playful ceramic take on a ubiquitous product design worth €70), both of which are pictured below.

Leading furniture designer Jenny Walsh has organised the raffle in memory of her brother Shaun, who was born with cystic fibrosis. Word of her initiative soon spread in design circles and has resulted in the generous donations of Irish designed furniture, jewellery, homewares, prints and even a photography session, with a cumulative retail value of €7,000 at last count (items keep poring in).

Speaking of her brother, Jenny says: “My brother Shaun was one of the bravest people I’ve ever known. Being born with Cystic Fibrosis, he had more medical issues and spent more time in hospital than most of us can imagine. Despite everything he went through, I don’t think I ever once heard him complain.

“We were so blessed to have had him in our lives and hope that by contributing towards Cystic Fibrosis research we are honouring his memory while helping others who are still fighting for every breath to get the chance of a better life.”

The display of goodwill shown by Jenny’s colleagues in the Irish design world means a lot, she explains. “Shaun’s family are honoured that so many talented artists and designers have donated handmade award winning work to this raffle in his memory. Their generosity will hopefully lead to us raising much needed funds for Cystic Fibrosis research.”

It is hoped that the raffle will raise €10,000 to support cystic fibrosis research in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin. Tickets can be purchased with great ease through for just €5 or 3 for €10. This showcase of contemporary Irish design will be exhibited in the Irish Design Shop, RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin, from June 1st to 7th with the prize draw taking place on June 7th.

Some of the amazing Design for Life raffle prizes include:
  • Creature Comforts Cabinet Jenny Walsh Design valued at €2,600
  • Heirloom Jewellery box by Karl Sweeny, valued at €750 (pictured below)
  • Ceramic wall art by Ulrika Holmquist, donated by the Irish Design Shop and valued at €600
  • ‘C Tables’, a pair of side tables by Klimmek – Henderson, valued at €550 (pictured below)
  • ‘Jellyfish’ Coffee table by Noel Whelan Design, valued at €450
  • ‘Summer Shadows’ from award-winning photographer Joby Hickey, printed on museum etching paper from negative plate of gelatine, silver sulphide & ammonia. Valued at €380.
  • Double Pod Lariat Necklace, winner of Best New Product Showcase 2012 by JLB Jewellery, valued at €275

  • A Claire Mc Alister Silver Squares Necklace
  • Crab Necklace from award-winning jeweller Eily O’Connell
  • Perspectives Shelving Unit by Jenny Walsh Design, valued at €180
  • Kite Chair by Sticks Fine Furniture
  • ‘Tea Party’ Irish Linen Table Runner, winner of RDS National Crafts Competition by Jennifer Slattery, valued at €110
  • Aesop’s Fable Necklace by Saba Jewellery, valued at €108 (pictured below)
  • Earrings cast from acorns by Eily O’Connell, valued at €90
  • A photo session in your own home with photographer Emily Quinn
  • Handmade Wooden Stool by James (stickman) Carroll
  • Diamond Earrings by Precious, Project 51, valued at €80
  • Embroidered Wrap by Heather Finn Knitwear, valued at €75
  • Allium lampshade by Klickity, valued at €70 (pictured below)

  • Comfort Carafe from Locker 13, valued at €70
  • Flourish lampshade by recent DIT graduate Kathryn Payne
  • Limited Edition, Signed Print from Grand Grand
  •  “Time Flies” clock by Jenny Walsh Design, valued at €28 (pictured below)

  • “Cuckoo Clock” by Jenny Walsh Design, valued at €25
  • Skipping Rope by Nick Barker from Upcycle, as seen on Dragon’s Den!

Tickets can be purchased through or through the Irish Design Shop, Bow Lane East, Dublin 2 - Irish Design Shop, RHA Gallery, Ely Place, Dublin 2 or Project 51, South William Street, Dublin2.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Inside artist Laura de Búrca's Dublin studio

Dublin artist Laura de Búrca's work is mesmerising and evocative. I love her use of colour, her attention to detail and the way she can capture a precious moment of shifting light. Three of her pieces hang on my walls.

We attended the same school and recently bumped into each other in our local park, the War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge. The NCAD graduate warmly welcomed me to her Thomas Street studio recently, which was a real visual treat.

Laura is currently working on a book about her father's family's orchard in the countryside near Tuam, Co. Galway. Poring over newspaper archives to find details of its prize-winning country fair entries and studying the people and the place in black and white photographs, she has been inspired to create a series of beautiful illustrations for the book, from the ivy-clad frontage of her grandparents' home to detailed studies of fruit and foliage.

Like sunlight breaking through the trees, she breathes vibrancy and light into the still-life studies of the apples and other fruit grown on the orchard. Her research has also shed light on Irish varieties that have since been replaced on shop shelves by imported fruit.

On Laura's desk (formerly owned by an architect and picked up for a song on a recycling website), my eye was instantly drawn by a series of tropical birds. The inspired choice of canvas? Paint sample tiles rescued from a skip outside the nearby Farrow & Ball showroom on Cornmarket. The English paint company is renowned for its range of high quality heritage colours, and I love how Laura has found a new use for her find. Red tags from a vintage label maker proudly describes the rather unusual breeds of bird, such as Candy Plumed Sundove (below), that she has brought to life.

Photos relating to Laura's painstaking research of the orchard also hang on the walls.

In every corner of the studio, creativity blooms. Laura, who has worked as an artist facilitator and workshop devisor with The Ark, a children's cultural centre in Temple Bar, made the leafy paper garland for a friend's wedding from old paper. She can also turn her hand to lifelike flowers, as pictured on top of a table she recently volunteered to upcycle for Oxfamhome on Francis Street, the subject of a blog post I wrote for the Oxfam Ireland website.

See Laura’s work on and She also blogs about colours on
The blog post about the table she upcycled for Oxfamhome is