Saturday, December 2, 2023

Dublin silversmith carrying on family craft tradition at Gifted design fair

Must read

More than 35,000 people are expected at Gifted, running at the RDS from December 6 to 10. Now in its 36th year, the will host over 400 designers and artisans, with 10pc off everything on the opening day.

One of the biggest highlights for the foodies out there is the Christmas food fair, which will feature 100 artisan producers.

One of the exhibitors is award-winning silversmith and enameller, Jean Wilkinson, from Clondalkin, who has mastered the intricate plique-à-jour technique, creating pieces reminiscent of delicate stained-glass detailing.

Jean Wilkinson has mastered the intricate plique-à-jour technique, creating pieces reminiscent of delicate stained-glass detailing

The unique craft has become Ms Wilkinson’s passion, with some of her recent work showcased at the Louvre in Paris last year.

“Plique-à-jour, which has become my passion, is made up of cells and looks a bit like lattice work,” she said.

“My mother, Kitty Doyle, was an Irish lace crocheter – her mother and grandmother did it – and she was among the women in Clondalkin who worked for the famous Irish designer Sybil Connolly.

“Even though I was young, I was very aware of how important this fashion lady was and what she was doing for Ireland’s reputation.

“Mammy had the skills in her family already and used to fund our Santa presents by making a lace crochet blouse or a Christmas shawl. I only recently realised how similar our artforms are; they are both very delicate and made up of cells and space and air,” she added.

At Gifted, Ms Wilkinson will showcase the dish that earned her gold at the Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council Awards 2020. She will also present small silver music boxes inspired by her husband’s “love for Christmas”.

“The music boxes are decorated with a scene and movement on the top and have some moving parts. It’s a departure from my usual designs, but I really enjoyed making it and would love to see what the Gifted crowd thinks of it,” Ms Wilkinson said.

Gifted, the Contemporary Craft and Design Fair, will feature 400 designers at the RDS

Those planning to attend the craft fair can expect to discover contemporary Irish jewellery, sustainable fashion, ceramics, leatherwork, woodwork, prints, knitwear, vintage clothing and a wide selection of books by Irish authors.

Organiser Patrick O’Sullivan said Gifted celebrates Christmas by providing the country’s “largest collection of thoughtful, handmade and sustainable gifts for your loved ones”.

“The fair is a unique opportunity to meet hundreds of makers and artisan food producers and discover thousands of original gift ideas. You won’t find a bigger selection of unique, handmade products under one roof anywhere in Ireland.

“If you have someone in your life that you find hard to buy Christmas gifts for, then we can almost guarantee that you will find something they’ll love at Gifted.

“The fair is a huge boost to the independent creative sector and it is estimated that it generates enough business to keep many exhibitors busy for at least four months of the year.”

Latest article