Happenings

Hiatus or just a sleep-in?

The odd one out - alongside the other hard-working marketeers from the Strandhill People's Market; Troy and Jessie from the Driftwood Coffee Cart, John and Kathy from Microcosm, and the muscle behind Cyril & Paula's Catering

I’m surprised I’ve neglected the blog for so long. The blog but also the site in general. To all those folks I’ve spoken to over the past two (crikey, and a half? Three?) months, enthusiastically directing them there to keep an eye on the new work that has been coming along, studio action… I offer some apologies and a brief round-up.

A little more over three months back we moved from the burbs of south county Dublin (sure, could’ve been worse) to a lovely little cottage in north-west Sligo crammed between the Dartry mountains and the Atlantic ocean. Oh, and there was a shed. This was quickly gutted, scrubbed out and transformed into a studio space. Well-built she is but insulated she aint so the walls are being packed out with tetra-paks for insulation; am I nuts here? Yes, quite possibly.

Man and shed

Next there was the platen press. A close friend, craftsman and artisan himself, helped with the design and did the lion’s share of the build; it helps when someone has all the toys and knows how to use them – welding stainless steel is a little beyond me. Two sandwiches of plywood, threaded stainless steel bars, mahogany spreader, trampoline springs and a six-tonne bottle jack. This bit of kit is legendary and paid for itself in the first month.

Printing a linocut with the new 6-tonne bottle jack press

Two weeks later we got bored and the single colour screenprinting press was the next project to come to fruition. I’ve designed and built a few of these in the past but this one has been by far the best – simplicity, form and function in one lightweight portable setup. Again, Graham was key in the production of this machine. He’ll make you one of each if you like – let me know if you need an introduction. The press paid for itself in about two weeks.

Into a run of shirts screenprinted using the new single-colour press

During this time we (oh yes, certainly a ‘We’ here – impossible without the our little family on board for the hard yards behind the scenes and up-front) set up a market stall at the Strandhill People’s Market. First time I’d had a crack at this – going public with my illustration and printed work. Understanding how to transform some weird doodles into a saleable product has been a real eye-opener – hard yards made merry with an arguably unhealthy obsession with detail and the seemingly inevitable perpetual compromise-wrestle with suppliers contributing to the finished product.

Oscar and me down at the Strandhill People's Market

By the second week in I was hooked – it’s a great way to spend a Sunday. Ahh sure, bombing down the cliffs of Chamonix in your wing-suit might offer a few more jiggles but this seemed a bit cheaper, and with less washing. It’s kept me on my toes setting up each week in different stalls, adapting to the new layouts and creating a space that can present the work well and provide an interesting space for folk to get in close to check it out. Further, the market has offered a wonderful opportunity and challenge to push things creatively throughout the processes of design, product development and at the shop-front.

Do-it-yourself signage - way more fun!

Is it paying off? In short, for sure. I’m stoked to have been accepted (tolerated?) by the community of marketeers down in Strandhill there every Sunday. Oh, I’m paying my way and investing back into all facets of this dynamic, polymorphic thing that is Organic Devolution. However, if you’re obsessed over the shekels then you’re overlooking the real rewards. No, I’m not making a killing but it’s a hell of a load of fun – when I catch that stranger doing a double-take on their way past and see some bewildered, confused or delighted smile creep across their mug… I couldn’t care less after that, I’m done. That’s my good day right there.

Given that we’ve been winging it since we got into Hanger One down at the Market it came as a surprise to be one of the award-winners at the end-of-season do last Sunday arvo up at the Dunes Tavern in Strandhill. Below, apart from the odd one on the left, Troy and Jessie from the Driftwood Coffee Cart, John and Kathy from Microcosm, and the muscle behind Cyril & Paula’s Catering.

The odd one out - alongside the other hard-working marketeers from the Strandhill People's Market; Troy and Jessie from the Driftwood Coffee Cart, John and Kathy from Microcosm, and the muscle behind Cyril & Paula's Catering

Yeah, I’ve neglected things here on-site for a while now but I’m settling in to a new and dynamic stable state. There’s a few gaps to fill in, a number of things to get prioritised, new routines and… it’s not too different to your own set-up perhaps – change a few names, tweak some elements and re-jig the commitments and you’re shaking it together in your own way. We’re all dancing here – sometimes we’re over thinking the choreography and sometimes we’re just channeling that true boogie raw.

Yeah, for sure I slide off track and feel a bit overwhelmed with all the ‘stuff’ that needs to be done. In reflection though I ease my mind back to the name of the umbrella hat all this is under, Organic Devolution. So… what’s in a name again?

Oh, my monkey mind.