CREATIVE CRAFTS?Beth Moran (right) and Victoria Foutz, who, together with Suzie Sullivan and Susan Basler, have opened the Quay Gallery, Westport.?Pic: Michael McLaughlin
Quayside gallery of craft collaborators
Upgraded Westport Quay attracts new art outlet
COMMUTING can be a rather salt-sprayed and wavy experience for hand-weaver Beth Moran, whose voyage to Westport’s newly opened Quay Gallery involves leaving her home in Ballytoughy Mór, on Clare Island, for the morning ferry to Roonagh pier near Louisburgh.
Ms Moran, who featured in RTÉ’s Craftmaster series in 2011, is part of an innovative new partnership involving four artists and craftspeople who have added more quality and quirkiness to the burgeoning new retail centre at Westport Quay, which, serendipitously, is presently being enhanced by major refurbishment works by Westport Town Council.
Bijoux jeweller Victoria Foutz, felter and sculptor Suzie Sullivan, illustrator and designer Susan Basler and Beth Moran, have collaborated to open the Quay Gallery ‘to showcase their work and that of others in a new setting where art meets craft and boundaries dissolve’.
It is the second such cooperative craft venture to open in the tourism haven this year, with The Craft House, in the town centre’s James Street, selling high-quality Mayo-made pieces.
The Quay Gallery’s shelves are filled with felted and printed cushions, clutch bags, eye-masks and snoods, scarves and hats in organic silk, cotton and felted rainbows of oranges and okras, pinks and yellows, purples and greens. There are also baskets and prints, cards and notebooks, photographs and jewellery.
“The idea had been germinating for about eight months, but finding a suitable space took some time. We just love this space here, which was originally opened by the late Annie Brennan as The Waterfront Gallery,” says Beth Moran.
She is eating a late lunch (a very healthy looking salad) while also organising the gallery’s new broadband connection and, of course, talking to The Mayo News.
“We may only be opened a few days but we already love the Quay and the development that is going on here. It is so vibrant and energetic. Each year I go to the RDS for the National Crafts Fair, and if my stall is situated on the balcony, rather than in the main hall, I am always delighted because you have slightly less traffic but a more attentive audience. That is the feeling I already get here.”
The gallery will not only showcase the work of the four owners. The women also held an open submission process through the Crafts Council of Ireland inviting people to submit pieces for sale. They each also invited an artist or craftsperson friend to showcase their work. In Moran’s case, she chose artistic photographer Ron Rosenstock.
A native of Massachusetts, Beth Moran first came to Ireland under the tutelage of Rosenstock, who often led troupes of students around the dramatic cliff-ways on Clare Island. She later married islander Máirtín Moran, and the couple now have three adult sons. While Beth still has a great love of photography, the crafts of hand-spinning, dyeing and weaving have since become her passion and her business. She regularly runs courses, and teaches apprentices at her studio on Clare Island, where she also has a shop, Ballytoughy Loom.
The Quay Gallery owners also plan to feature exhibitions by different artists who will be invited to give talks about the origins and processes of their works.
The other artists
Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Victoria Foutz, was educated in the US and worked in the Italian film industry as a wardrobe design consultant before moving to Ireland in 1995 with her husband, an American screenwriter. Celtic motifs are a perennial theme in her work, and she was commissioned to make a piece for the Broadway opening of Riverdance.
Suzie Sullivan, who lives in the shadow of the Sheefry mountains, has been fêted at many competitions for her felted ‘River Bank Friends’ and ‘Legends’. Created from hand-dyed wool, ‘River Bank Friends’ were inspired by ‘the magical characters from ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and were sculptured using a felt needle. The concept for ‘Legends’ was inspired ‘by the folk tales of old Ireland’s rich and mysterious past’ and ‘embellished with beads, wire, copper sheet and stitching’.
Print-designer and illustrator, Susan Basler is inspired by the natural world and armed with her camera gets ideas for her design collections when she is wandering in the great outdoors. She loves ‘all the weird and wonderful things that surround us, and I have a lot of respect for my source whether it’s a plant or a bird or a fish’.
For more information, contact The Quay Gallery on 087 7176226 or visit www.facebook.com/thequaygallery.