Carrowbeg Artists serve up a cookbook


COOKING UP A STORM The Carrowbeg Artists are pictured with chef Áine Maguire during one of their cooking days at The Idle Wall resturant, Westport. From left: Anna Rose Lowry, Gerry O’Malley, Sarah Kelly, Trish Kelly, Chef Aine McGuire and Máire Maguire. (Missing from the picture is Carrowbeg artist Marion McGing.)  Pic: Conor McKeown

A new cookbook, ‘Carrowbeg Cooks – with Chef Áine Maguire’, will be formally launched on Sunday, December 10, at 3pm, at The Custom House Studios, Westport Quay, by guest speaker Darren Cawley.
A unique book, presented with beautiful art work and documentary photographs, ‘Carrowbeg Cooks’ not only reflects the food preferences of the artists involved, it is also a practical, usable cook­book for anyone to enjoy.

Fostering creativity
For the past seven years, the Carrowbeg Artists – Sarah Kelly, Trish Kelly, Anna Rose Lowry, Marion Mc­Ging, Máire Maguire and Gerry O’Malley – have been meeting weekly at the Custom House Studios for art workshops. Supported by The Upstart Project, from Mayo County Council Arts Office, the group of adults with special needs has worked on a different project each year, including bronze casting, film, pottery and an artist’s book, ‘A Book of Shopping’.
Through this collaboration, the artists have explored different creative processes, experimented with new techniques, and developed their skills and their styles of working in printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture and books.
All these projects have been facilitated and directed by artists Caroline Masterson and Gráinne O’Reilly, and they have been completed each year to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The group has also enjoyed meeting and working with several other artists from the local and international community along the way.
The art workshops emphasise participants’ self-motivation and expression, and the important place of the workshop within their weekly schedule and routine of activities – as well as the involvement and support of staff from Carrowbeg Enterprises.
Throughout, staff at Custom House Studios provide tangible supports, assistance and guidance to the participants while they engage in processes that help them develop and transform their creative ideas into artworks using different artistic mediums.

Tasty offering
This year, Gráinne and Caroline and the group worked with Idle Wall chef Áine Maguire to complete the cookery book, which reflects the tastes, dietary needs and preferences of the individual participants. The entire process was documented by photographer Conor McKeown.
Áine Maguire took leadership of the project, and each participant informed her of their favourite foods. From that she developed the recipes for the cookery classes.
Shopping for the ingredients took place in SuperValu and McCormack’s Butch­ers in Westport. The cookery classes took place over a number of weeks with Áine in The Idle Wall, where everyone enjoyed a delicious meal at the end of each session.  
Participants also made colourful aprons and bags in preparation for the project, and imagery of these, along with documentary photographs and the original recipes, are used in the cookbook.
Commenting on the project, the Custom House Studios said that it is grateful to the Carrowbeg Artists Group ‘for their ongoing enthusiastic participation’. The gallery and studios also credited the artists’ facilitators, Gráinne O’Reilly and Caroline Masterson, chef Áine Macguire, photographer Conor Mc Keown, social care workers Mary Duffy and Stephanie Morrison and designer Frank O’Reilly, as well as sponsors, photographer Ron Rosenstock, SuperValu and The Kavanagh Group, Westport.
For Carrowbeg Artists, the social aspect of coming together as a group for this and previous projects has had many benefits, including learning, fun, pride and a sense of achievement – all of which are obvious on every page of this colourful and inspiring publication, which would undoubtedly be a welcome and heartwarming Christmas present for aspiring cooks of all ages.   

All are welcome to the launch of ‘Carrowbeg Cooks’ this Sunday, December 10. The project has been specifically supported by Western Care Association fundraising, Mayo County Council Arts Office Upstart Programme and Custom House Studios.