We were killing two birds with one stone on our trip to Sligo- Liz had been asked to demonstrate her weaving in a shop she supplies with scarves and sheep products to called The Cat and the Moon & she was asked to participate at the Lilly Lolly Yeats Festival 2018, Conversation with Designers in The Factory Performance Space hosted by Eddie Shanahan of the Council of Fashion Designers. Liz was joined on stage by artists Blaithin Ennis, John O’ Riain, Tish Carroll and Ann Hamilton.
So we packed up the van with the small table loom, a few bobbins of yarn, Liz’s business cards and a few Yeats inspired scarves and hit the road to Sligo. Google maps is an interesting phenomenon- it may have brought us the ‘quickest’ way to Sligo but I’m not sure you can say that when it brings you through small villages you’ve never heard of and up by roads only fit for one car at a time.
The wee cafe we stopped at in Manorhamilton for a spot of lunch is worth mentioning, not just for the very tasty ham ciabatta but for the gentleman serving behind the counter looking surprisingly like a local Blayney man- personality and all!
Anyway, we made it to Sligo with plenty of time to spare. Liz got the loom set up and was demonstrating between 3pm and 4pm. We were made very welcome by Martina Hamilton the lovely lady who owns the Cat and the Moon and is also an accomplished jewellery designer. We had plenty of interest from customers to the shop who were eager to see how the scarves were made and kept Liz on her toes with plenty of questions. The Cat and the Moon is a beautiful shop, full of colour and really interesting products and also upstairs is the Hamilton Gallery which showcases local artists’ work.
I managed to get some great photos of Liz at her craft and engaging with visitors to the shop. I almost forgot to mention the shop window. The Cat and the Moon have a great window display which features some of the LizzyC sheep and a few of Liz’s scarves. I got some brilliant shots of the window display which showcases our scarves wonderfully. Afterwards we were treated to lovely tea and coffee by Martina. With our energy replenished we headed off to the Factory Performance Space which was just a short walk through the town.
We arrived to the Factory, a wonderful creative space which seems to be, as the name would suggest, a redecorated old factory used, very effectively, as a creative space. I later found out it was actually an abattoir in its previous life. As we walked through the foyer we were treated to Ann Hamilton’s gorgeous exhibition of ‘Heirloom’ dresses she had designed and made herself. Beautiful old styles of dresses and even one with a nod towards W.B Yeats himself.
The theatre part of The Factory is an intimate venue which made it perfect for the Conversations with Designers event. I was introduced to Eddie Shanahan who would be leading proceedings; a man I knew would have no trouble keeping the conversation flowing! I filmed bits and pieces of the conversation- forgive me for being biased but I mostly filmed Liz speaking with Eddie. They spoke about the first thing they ever made and Liz spoke enthusiastically about colour which is something that Liz is very passionate about.
Liz spoke about her scarves inspired by Ireland’s favourite painting ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’ which is a collection of scarves she designed for the National Gallery in Dublin. She mentions this collection later on but I will come back to that.
Eddie then talked about how each of them had become interested in art and design and how they ‘got into it’ as such. They each spoke about their college experience in art and design and about the business end of things, mostly they learned on their toes when it came to the business end of things and there was never much emphasis put on the business side of art and design.
Eddie then asked them each about what they do exactly and asked them to convince him to buy their product. At the end of the day as Eddie says they need to make money and make a living. He said to them they need to understand their ways and how they impact on others.
When asked what does your products do for people and why should they buy it, Liz said ‘It helps you feel good and makes you smile’. This pretty much sums up Liz’s products.
Liz spoke fondly about Cleo’s in Dublin who was her very first customer, who gave her the self confidence to sell her product and at a price to sustain her living. For Liz, her design and craft skills have always been a means by which she would make her living and as a result she embraced the world of business.
Back to the painting ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’, Eddie finished up the conversation with the artists by asking them did they have any funny stories to finish on. Liz told the story about a batch of scarves she was making for the National Gallery of Ireland, beautiful scarves inspired by ‘The Meeting on the Turret Stairs’. The scarves had been woven on the loom, cut off, the fringes knotted and they just needed to be washed and dried before being packed up and sent off. So Liz hand washed them… and put them into the washing machine to spin them… unfortunately she put them on a 15 minute wash cycle instead of a 13 minute spin cycle and bam! A matted shrunken tangle of scarves!! So it was back to the dye pots, the warping mill and the loom with those particular scarves and the whole process had to begin again. There was a big round of applause from the audience, who had been very attentive throughout, and that brought us to the end of Conversations with Designers.
We chatted for awhile in the foyer but people were soon making a move towards the pub. We had a good two hour drive ahead of us and remained apprehensive as to where Google maps would bring us to so we headed back in the direction of the van. We stopped off at a gorgeous Indian restaurant and had dinner. Then we made tracks for the stony grey soil of Monaghan. We made it back in one piece to Annayalla and two exhausted heads ready to hit the hay. We had a really interesting trip to Sligo; it was great to get chatting to other artists and people in the business. It was also great to see so many people at an event celebrating the Yeats sisters, Lily & Lolly in their home town of Sligo. Lily and Lilly were great pioneers for local artists in the Sligo area and done a lot of work promoting women’s rights and art and heritage. I also found it great to chat to one of the shop owners we supply and to see our product stocked in their shop is fabulous.
A quick shout out to the wee fox who nearly gave us a heart attack on the way home, somewhere in County Fermanagh, hope you are still knocking around foxy.
Visit our website to check out our range of scarves available for men and women www.lizchristy.com