TO MY mind, local heroes are people who have the courage to get up, and set up, their own little businesses in times that are hard. It is easy to do it when times are good, but when everyone is moaning and groaning, and tightening their purse strings, it takes a very brave person to see the bright side and have a go.
I know we are all having a hard time paying our bills, but people need to remember too that to keep the wheels turning, if you have the money, go and buy that dress you fancy, or that lovely painting, for what comes around goes around. It is also good for your own morale.
Jenni Kilgallon is such a local hero. Jenni has just taken the bull by the horns in opening a lovely new craft shop and gallery in Dun Laoghaire called the Artists Gift Gallery, displaying and selling Irish works and products. Being an artist herself, Jenni spotted the gap in the market for such an enterprise, which offers upcoming artists, and crafts people the facility and opportunity to display their work on a sale or return basis.
Born and raised in Dundrum, Jenni is 28, and says she always loved creating things and had a keen interest in art from an early age. Over the years this interest grew and grew. After she finished school, she went to the National College of Art and Design and graduated in 2006 with a degree in glass design.
People who are artistic in one area tend to be creative and artistic in others, so she then went on to study interior design, in which she was also interested. She studied this subject in Ashfield College and then went on to work in interior design and retail management. This combination of interests and experience came together in the idea of the Artists Gift Gallery.
The idea occurred to her about six months ago.
“I noticed a lack of facilities for artists to display and sell their work, crafts in particular. The galleries out there can be quite intimidating for customers to just browse, some can be very overpriced and can charge high commission rates. They generally don’t cater for crafters or lesser known artists. The few shops that are available for Irish designers again only cater for well known artists, can be very overpriced, and can stock mass-produced products.
“My idea of the Artists Gift Gallery was to provide a place where both emerging and prominent artists can display their work with no discrimination. Customers can be guaranteed that they are buying Irish, handmade products and supporting Irish artists. We sell nothing imported or mass produced,” Jenni said.
“Statistics from the Crafts Council of Ireland show that since the Year of Craft 2011, interests in craft and Irish products have soared. Over the past few months, my research shows much interest from participating artists and the public. I am confident that with the right marketing, the right principles and the range of products that we are carrying that the Artists Gift Gallery will be a huge success,” Jenni added.
The Artists Gift Gallery is located on two floors with craft goods from handbags to slate products, wooden bowls to jewellery, ceramics to candles, embroidered towels to glassware.
There are over 50 artists participating in the Artists Gift Gallery including Cathy Hughes, Lynda Tobin Howes, Sue Bamford, and lovely textiles prints and cards by Ciara Wall. Look out too for Rachel Brady’s silk prints and paintings as well as Lynsey de Burca’s jewellery, and Francis Leavey’s Fab Cow designs.