Crafty Christmas Gift Ideas!

The more people I talked to about Christmas, the more I realise that it has flown in too quickly to keep organised. Like, this day next week will be Christmas day,  how did that happen? If you are stuck for a last minute presents or need advice on Gift wrapping, here are some ideas to help you.

Wrapping paper & tags!

Brighten up your gifts with some creative and clever wrapping ideas!

Gift tags for coffee lovers!

Materials needed: wool, card, wrapping paper, glue (pritt stick) and scissors

Coffee labels
Source: Pinterest/ Simply Kelly Designs

Word search Wrapping Paper

Materials needed: white paper, word search, cellotape, and scissors

All you have to do is google a word search, print and wrap your gift!

Source: Pinterest/


 Easy tree Decorations

Gnome Ornament

Materials needed: scissors, wool, string, pom poms

Just follow the link to find out more details on how to make these cute little decorations

Source: Pinterest/

Little woolly hats

Materials needed: recycled toilet roll, scissors, wool,

These are so cute and so easy to make! All you need is some cardboard and wool.

Source: Pinterest/

Last minute gifts!

Clever, quick, and easy gifts to makes Christmas less pain free!

Gift not included!

Materials needed: plastic bag, batteries and label.

There is nothing worse on Christmas day then getting a gift and noticing ‘batteries not included’ and having no batteries! Here is a funny way of making sure you have them.

Source: Pinterest/

Funny gifts! 

Snowman Joke teller 

Materials needed: paper (free printable – see link), scissors and some markers (optional)

Source: Pinterest/


Quick & easy DIY gifts!

DIY Purse charms

You can use this as a keying so you don’t lose your keys or you can add it to a bag to dress it up. The main materials you’ll need for this are string, wool and beads.


Have fun, Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! 







Love Lane and Short Truths of the Heart

You walk down a little archway just beside the Olympia Theatre in Dublin. You keep walking and you wonder, ‘is this the right place?’. Then you see it. The pastel painted square painted with coloured hearts. You laugh internally to yourself, “this must be the place”. You’ve found love Lane! The little avant-garde lane is scattered with petite tiles decorated with quotes and love hearts. There are quotes from famous musicians, artists, great poets, and ordinary people with extraordinary love to share. The wall is a history of love and life lessons. Sometimes the hardest lessons in life we learn from love.

‘Love Lane by Anna Doran’ (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)
‘Love Lane by Anna Doran’ (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)
Love as we all know, can feel both enamoring and sometimes destructive. When you truly love someone it takes over you completely. You want to give them everything. It transcends language, race, sex, religion and everything else. You love, who you love. It can consume you. It can be cruel and it can be kind. When we love blissfully it can inspire us to a whole new level. While heartbreak can bring us down a few levels. The search for love can feel like a seesaw; sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, sometimes they’re nice and sometimes they’re not. It all makes sense though, that moment love hits you for real. You just know, this is it! This is where i’ve always meant to be. The moment you see them for the first time it feels like home. You feel at ease in a way you’ve never felt before. You can see the future in their eyes, pure happiness in their smile and the tone of their voice is your favourite sound in the whole entire world.

‘I can conquer the world with one hand as long as you’re holding the other’ J.B (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)
‘Hope’/ ‘to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die – The Smiths’ (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)
Everyone has different stories of how they knew or why they know. Sometimes there is no explanation, you just love who you love. Sometimes we find them early in life, at other times we meet them later. We might find them on purpose and sometimes we find them by mistake. All that matters is that you found one another. Even if they are gone, we hold them in our hearts forever.

‘I love you like a fat kid loves cake’/’C’est La Vie’ (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)
‘You’re the Chocolate at the end of my Cornetto- BellX1’ (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)
Pure love can be the most exhilarating feeling in the whole world. You feel eternal gratitude to the universe for having this person love you back. Love is many things but fundamentally it’s about balance. It’s about keeping both feet on the ground and dreaming at the same time. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. It’s being true to your word and them doing the same. It’s fighting and it’s making up. It’s keeping kindness and compassion at the forefront of your relationship. It’s giving them comfort and giving them space. It’s taking it in turns to hold each other when the other is weak. It’s looking after you and looking after them. It’s believing in them and letting them believe in you. It’s being similar and being different. It’s letting them see us strong and other times weak. It’s about letting them in, even though you’re scared. It’s letting them see your best and worst parts. It’s knowing the best for them and knowing the best of you. It’s sharing the joys of life and the hardest moments too. It’s being scared but trusting them enough to share. It’s about being a team but also being independent. It’s seeing the strength in them when they think they are weak. It’s about acceptance and forgiveness, for them and for yourself. It’s about leaving the past behind and building a future together. It’s knowing each other are imperfectly perfect. It’s fighting the obstacles of life, hand in hand with the love of your life through ferocious strength, compassion, and kindness.

‘Love Lane by Anna Doran’ (photo by Ruth O’Hagan 2018)

New City Library & Parnell Square CQ: What’s the story?  

Maybe you’ve seen a few articles, tweets and posts over the last few weeks about Dublin New City Library being moved to Parnell Square. Here are a few of the main points about what’s going on.

The New City Library

Firstly, people are probably wondering, “where on Parnell Square this new library is going to go?”. It’s planned to be built at the Coláiste Mhuire site (numbers 23 to 28), it’s the building to the right of The Hugh Lane Gallery. In a nutshell, according to The Dublin City Council this new library, “…will expand the traditional mold with offers such as an Innovation/Enterprise Hub, Storyhouse for writers and readers, a Music Centre and a Digital Library” DCC, 2018.

Image: ‘Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane’, Ruth O’Hagan, 2015
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Image: ‘plan for Dublin New City Library’ DCC City Architects, 2018

What’s a Cultural Quarter? 

This library is actually part of a much bigger plan which is called ‘Parnell Square Cultural Quarter – a Dublin City Council Project’. It is said that the quarter will be anchored by this new city library. The plan is to turn Parnell Square into a new cultural destination in Dublin. Believe it or not, this project has actually been in the pipeline since 2010.


Cultural quarters are built based on social, economic and cultural goals to develop local economies. They include organizations that create products for Cultural consumption not necessarily profit. There is aim to develop, regenerate, rebrand and stimulate tourism for these areas. They are places with rich culture and creativity. Parnell Square is already home to the Hugh Lane Gallery,  Dublin Writers Museum, Irish Writers’ Centre the garden of remembrance, and it is minutes away from the Gate Theatre.

“A cultural quarter is a geographical area of a large town or city which acts as a focus for cultural and artistic activities through the presence of a group of buildings devoted to housing a range of such activities, and purpose designed or adapted spaces to create a sense of identity, providing an environment to facilitate and encourage the provision of cultural and artistic services and activities.”

Roodhouse, Simon (2010), Cultural Quarters, Principles and Practice, Bristol, UK; University of Chicago Press:  Intellect Books, p.24

There are many examples of Cultural Quarters all over the world, the most popular being Temple Bar Cultural Quarter.  There are currently plans in place to develop Cultural Quarters in Swords, Co. Dublin and Waterford. 

Connecting the Civic Spine

Image: ‘Parnell square sign’ Ruth O’Hagan, 2015

Another part of the ‘Parnell Square Cultural Quarter – a Dublin City Council Project’ is to connect the Civic Spine. The civic spine is the northern end of Dublin city which runs “…from Parnell Square along O’Connell Street and Dame Street to Christchurch, the route of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and other celebrations. It is home to the Garden of Remembrance…” Dublin City Council, 2013.

City Architect Ali Grehan said that the project was designed to make the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter a landmark destination that will revitalise Dublin’s historic Civic Spine. She says, “Redeveloping Parnell Square as a dynamic cultural quarter anchoring the Civic Spine, will create a major new destination, connect existing social and cultural experiences and give momentum to development opportunities waiting to happen”.

Who’s funding it?

Image: ‘Dublin City Library the Hugh Lane’, Ruth O’Hagan, 2015

“The project to deliver a new cultural landmark for Dublin is being undertaken by Parnell Square Foundation, a charitable trust established by Kennedy Wilson with the support of Dublin City Council. The Foundation has been set up to raise funds and finance the project which is being developed by its wholly-owned subsidiary company PSQ Developments Limited.” – Dublin City Council’s City Architects, 2018.

What’s next?

“The design team, led by Grafton Architects and Shaffrey Architects, is currently finalising the planning application which will be lodged with An Bord Pleanála for consideration in the coming weeks” – Dublin City Council’s City Architects, 2018.

The target date for opening of the new cultural complex is 2023. If you’d like to find out more you can follow the @ParnellSqCQ or check out the website here. 

Image: Dublin City Council’s City Architects, 2018.

If you’re interested in learning more about Cultural Quarters please do get in touch, you can email me at My research is also available here if you would like to read more here. 

Top 5 Art Exhibitions to visit in Dublin this Weekend

There are some VERY interesting exhibitions on in Dublin this Weekend! If visual art isn’t your thing, there are so many archival exhibitions and shows surrounding current news events. From The National Print Museum with posters of the Irish women’s suffrage campaign to the Gallery of Photography and their exhibition ‘Reframing the Border’. There really is a great mix of brilliant exhibitions that will suit a lot of different tastes. The galleries mentioned are also free to visit (some exclusive exhibitions you might have to pay into, just be sure to check the websites for more details before your visit).

1. ‘Print, Protest, and The Polls Exhibition’ at the National Print Museum, Dublin

17 May 2018 – 30 September 2018

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As I’ve mentioned before, this is a very fascinating spot! Their current exhibition is “Print, Protest, and The Polls: The Irish women’s suffrage campaign and the power of print media, 1908 – 1918”. The exhibition is free of charge and open to the public during museum opening hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00, Saturday-Sunday 14:00-17:00 (closed on Bank Holiday weekends). You can check out their website for more details.

2. ‘Language and Space’ Brian O’Doherty at Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin

26 April  – 16 September 2018

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IMMA is a great spot, regardless if you like art or not. The gardens and historical background is pretty fascinating! If you’re into art,  Brian O’Doherty’s show looks like a good one indeed. Brian O’Doherty’s ‘Language and Space’ is presented in the context with IMMA’S Collections exhibition Coast-Lines (this looks pretty cool too!), this solo exhibition includes a number of works by Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland from IMMA’s National Collection.
“Brian O’Doherty Language and Space marks the artist’s lifelong commitment to exploring line, language and location, and is a timely celebration of the ten-year anniversary of his performance The Burial of Patrick Ireland at IMMA in 2008.” -IMMA 2018
IMMA will also have a Lunchtime talk on the theme of The Ogham Script by Damian McManus as part of Heritage Week (18– 26 August 2018). The event will take place on Tuesday 21 August 2018, 1.00 – 1.45pm, Main Galleries, East Wing. Ogham is placed centrally to Brian O’Doherty’s work and was an inspiration for many of his conceptual drawings and structural plays.  If you’d like to attend this talk you can book your ticket here.

3. Traveller Collection | Seamus Nolan at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin

22 June 2018 – 23 September 2018

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This sounds like a very insightful exhibition in the lives of Traveller communities of Ireland. This current exhibition by Irish artist Seamus Nolan’s sees him investigating the idea of archive, deconstructing ideas on ‘heritage’ and engaging with the Traveller communities in Ireland and Traveller activists and archivists. This exhibition includes archival material that forms the Irish Travelling People: a Resource Collection and which is borrowed from the Special Collections of Ulster University.  This collection was originally created and built up by Eileen L’Amie during her time at the Ulster University. You can find out more on their website.

4. Reframing the Border | Group Exhibition at the Gallery of Photography, Dublin

13 July 2018 – 09 September 2018

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In both the North and South of Ireland, Brexit and talk of borders have been bombarding the news feeds. Northern Ireland is coming close to achieving an unwanted world record for a democracy going without an elected government.

This exhibition at The Gallery of Photography is so on point! (check out there website for more info).

“The border in Ireland is one of the most important issues affecting the island of Ireland. As we approach an uncertain Brexit and the centenary of partition, the prospect of moving from a diffused border to a hard border prompts intense and critical reflection. The prospect of reinstating physical barriers only recently viewed as ‘gone forever’ raises concerns about the impact of the border on local communities, the people of this island and its wider impact in the EU.” – The Gallery of Photograpy, 2018

5. Townscape | Mary Burke at Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin

08 May 2018 – 31 August 2018

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This exhibition explores how a place can inspire an artist to capture the essence of their surroundings. For more further information on this exhibiton, you can read more here.

“Mary Burke is a critically acclaimed Irish artist whose life’s work up to this point has dealt with painting suburban surroundings. On the invitation of Laois Arts Officer and Curator Muireann Ní Chonaill, Mary Burke visited Laois Arthouse to see if Stradbally, Co Laois would be a suitable and appealing subject matter for her to consider. Over a twelve-month period, she visited twelve homes selected and Townscape was born.” – Irish Architectural Archive, 2018

If you’d like to check out more events in Dublin, you can check out: Visual Artists Ireland, EventBrite, Visit Dublin or the Dublin Event Guide (for free events) Regardless of what you go and see, have a great weekend!

Favourable Find’s: 10 Irish Craft Entrepreneurs you should check out!

Ireland is a very creatively explosive place when you know where to look. It is a busy little county that is filled to the brim with dreamers, achievers and inspiring Creative Entrepreneurs. There really are so many brilliant creative people who are making truly exceptional craft products. This article highlights 10 craft entrepreneurs who are single handily changing the face of Craft in Ireland. For such a small country we have a huge amount of creative talent!

1. The Bearded Candle Makers 

St Georges Market, Belfast & The Irish Design Shop, Dublin

In 2016, I was lucky enough to have interviewed Michael when he was only starting off and now his business has grown so much since then. Michael brings a serious amount of imagination and a sprinkle of Irish magic to the everyday candle.  He makes candles that are not only beautifully scented, ethically made but that also tell a very rich story. You can buy the candles St. Georges Market, Belfast or The Irish Design Shop, Dublin or through their online shop.

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2. Taer Jewellery 

Taer Jewellery, Dublin

I am a huge fan of Aisling’s and the contemporary Jewellery she brings to life. Each piece is distinctive and very allegorical. I met her at a Market in the Chocolate Factory in Dublin and her passion for her craft was very contagious. She is definitely a craftsperson to keep an eye on because she’s really going places! You can buy her gorgeous jewelry at her online shop.

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Powerscourt Centre, Dublin 

I interviewed Margaret in 2016 and since then I have become a fierce fan of MoMuse. I was so blown away by her enthusiasm for Irish craft, her passion for materials and how much she genuinely loves her job. I have massive respect for Margaret, she’s a brilliant creative entrepreneur, a talented craftsperson and has helped to raise €1,000’s for Pieta House (read about her ‘Hope’ pendant here). She’s a creative wonder woman and everyone should know about her! You can check out her shop in the Powerscourt Centre, Dublin or you can buy her Jewellery through her online shop.

The MoMuse launch of a specialedition Hope pendant in support of Pieta House. Irish jewellery designer, Margaret O’ Rourke of MoMuse has  designed a beautiful and delicate gold filled pendant  inscribed with the word Hope, the message which underpins t
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‘Hope Pendant total raised’ Image via:


Powerscourt Centre & Kilkenny Shop, Dublin 

Chupi makes beautiful jewelry, she’s really stylish and the stories of her customers alone will leave you with ALL the feels! Her jewelry is very romantic, feminine and delicate. It only makes sense that she would design engagement rings (and the stories will make you swoon!). She sells her jewelry through Kilkenny Shop Dublin and through her shop in the Powerscourt Centre. You should also follow her on Instagram and read all the lovely stories!

‘The Chupi guide to wedding planning’ Image via:

5. Claudine O’Sullivan

Jam Art Factory, Dublin

Claudine’s prints are literally the definition of happiness. She has a very whimsical, colourful and distinctive style. You would know her work anywhere. She also brings a comical approach to the typical animal portraits (see Kevin below!). She has a serious gift of bringing inanimate objects to life using colour and lines. Honestly, she just creates brilliant things. If you want to check her range of products you can check out The Jam Art Factory or her online shop.

‘Kevin’ Image Via:

6. Snow Laser Studio 

Snow Laser Studio, Dublin 

I’ve been following their business since they started in 2011. I remember coming across their mini houses at the Design Corner in 2011 and have been fascinated by there products ever since. To this day, their mini houses are one of the most clever craft products I’ve ever come across! If you’d like to find out more, you can check out their website (their online shop is currently closed at the moment as they’re on summer holidays).

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7. Ruby Robin Boutique 

Ruby Robin Boutique, Cork

I’m totally obsessed with everything she makes! Ruby Robin brings natural, boho chic to a whole new level. When you wear her Jewellery you can bring the beauty of nature everywhere you go. She calls them ‘wearable keepsakes from nature’ and all her jewelry is a fierce feast for the eyes. If you want to buy any of her ethereal creations check out her website. She also does markets so keep an eye out on her social media.

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8. Ewe Sir

Ewe Sir, Cork

The creative mind behind Ewe Sir is Molly Ellis. She captures the beauty and nostalgia of the forest through her vibrant woodland creatures. Her style is very cheerful, whimsical and natural. She’s got an incredible eye for capturing the essence of nature in a very subtle and enamoring way. If you would like to see more of her work, you can check out her website.

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9. Alison Ospina, Green Wood Chairs

Green-Wood Chairs, West Cork

I worked on an exhibition a few years back and we featured some of Alison’s wonderful chairs. When you see them in person, they are the most enchanting pieces of furniture you’ll ever see! She’s a very interesting woman who shares her knowledge through her books and holds chair making courses in her studio in Cork. If you’d like to find out more about Alison Ospina and truly magnificent chairs, check out her website .

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10. The Tweed Project

 The Tweed Project, Galway & Indigo & Cloth, Makers & Brothers, Dublin

The Tweed Project is the epidemy of Galwegion Creative Entrepreneurship! They take creativity, design, and art to a whole different level. In my opinion, they have redefined Tweed! Here’s a little bit more about them:

“Bridging the gap between tradition and contemporary design, Triona and Aoibheann bring you The Tweed Project. Both passionate about Irish fabrics, they noticed that despite producing highly sought after Tweed and Linen, no one in Ireland seemed to be using them to suit a modern sensibility, in other words they were looking for pieces that they would like to wear. So with true DIY spirit, The Tweed Project was created” –  the tweed project 2018

Check out their website for more information and/or if you like to buy any of their designs you can purchase them at Indigo & Cloth or Makers & Brothers, Dublin.

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If you want to find out more about Craft, I also wrote another post, ‘A Craft Lovers Guide to Dublin‘. It features The Irish Design Shop, Industry & Co, Makers & Brothers and the jam Factory who also stock work of very talented Irish Craftspeople.

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A Fine Place: Irish Art Centres with Great Galleries

We are very lucky in Ireland, that we have so many arts centres spread out all over the country! These Arts Centres, for many, are a gateway into the Creative Arts in their community. It is a place where the arts are produced, shown, exhibited and consumed by the public.  It is a place where you can become consumed by the arts either through Theatre, Music, Cinema, Dance or even visual art. In many cases, the Theatre has been the focal point for many of these Arts Centres. The programming mainly focuses on Theatre events such as plays, musicals, concerts, dance performances, and film. The stage is probably one of the most well-used resources of the Arts Centre. I am a big fan and have worked in Theatre for a number of years but I have noticed sometimes the Art Galleries in these Centres can get neglected because of the focus on Theatre events.

In some cases, the gallery is just a foyer that audiences walkthrough, that is barely even noticed. The artwork merely resembles wallpaper. It is a shame because they have so much potential, if only they were used properly. In saying that, there are also excellent galleries that deliver exhibitions that are exceptional, their curators go above and beyond!  There needs to be more like these!

I am also a massive fan of Irish visual art and have worked in it for over 10 years. I am always delighted when a read a programme and come across both a visually and intellectually stimulating exhibition. Exhibitions in Arts Centers can be tricky to organize, as their audiences are quite vast and they are catering to many tastes. Exhibitions involve not only catering to audiences tastes but they should also exhibit a certain standard of work, should incorporate the environment and should have written content that can be understood by all members if its audience. Arts Centres can be the hearts of the community and every aspect of programming should reflect that community. Some Art Centres in Ireland also have the best Exhibition spaces in the country and when they are used effectively can create exhibitions that really can inspire their visitors. This makes it more enjoyable to engage, even if visual art feels like a mystery!

Here is a list of the some Art Centres in Ireland who have truly great Galleries (in no particular order!)

The Project Arts Centre

Temple Bar, Dublin

Gallery; Current, progressive and contemporary 

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The Project Arts Centre is a seriously cool spot! It’s got great Theatre and brilliant Visual Arts! In their own words;

“We’re Ireland’s leading centre for the development and presentation of contemporary art, across all forms of the performing and visual arts” – Project Arts Centre 2017

The Mermaid Arts Centre

Bray, Co. Wicklow

Gallery; Engaging, community-led and traditional 

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I was very lucky to have worked at the Mermaid for a short time in 2012. While I was there, I got to see the best exhibition I’ve ever seen about Bray! It was very well received and shows how an art exhibition in an Arts Centre should be done! The exhibition was called from ‘From Bray with Love’. Here’s a little more info:

The exhibition also included an important collection of postcards sent from Bray by holiday-makers, featuring for example sightseers walking the promenade, the cable car built in the 1950s which brought visitors halfway up Bray Head, and an array of prominent hotels and boarding houses. – Mermaid Arts Centre 2012


Rua Red

Tallaght, Co. Dublin

Gallery; Interactive, digital and contemporary


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Rua Red is a contemporary art space! In my opinion, it has one of the best art Galleries in Ireland! It has the perfect amount of natural lighting, the gallery is large (to accommodate any sized artwork or projections), they have not one but two galleries and always has very interesting programming! In their own words:

“Rua Red exhibit the work of established Irish and International artists who are committed to producing work within a socio political framework” Rua Red, 2018

The Dock

Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim

Gallery; Contemporary,  Educational and vibrant

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They have a very current art programme, along with exhibition art, they also hold events that encourage dialogue about art. In their own words:

“The Dock provides support for artists to develop their practice and show new work through our residency programmes. Where possible we curate, commission and develop new work and support projects at a local, national and international level..The Dock is part of the fabric of the wider arts and enterprise community of Carrick on Shannon and the North West region supporting local arts initiatives and local enterprise including the many superb festival events taking place in the area…The Dock provides space for local arts groups and practitioners to meet, create and develop ideas and partnerships” The Dock, 2018

Sirius Arts Centre 

Cobh, Co. Cork

 Gallery: Interdisciplinary, contemporary and collaborative 

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The Sirius Arts Centre always have great opportunities for artists to exhibit their work. They have a brilliant space and you can see how much they respect artists by the way they exhibit their work! Their mission is:

Sirius Arts Centre is interested in working with contemporary artists, both emerging and established, Irish and international. Sirius has a long history of presenting a wide range of interdisciplinary contemporary art and is currently especially interested in working with artists through a highly collaborative process and in the dialogue between artists, curators, communities and audiences

Draíocht Arts Centre 

Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin

Gallery: Community-led, traditional and engaging 

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Draíocht is a multi-purpose arts & entertainment centre in the heart of Dublin’s Blanchardstown. It has two art galleries in which they show community led exhibitions of a traditional nature (painting, photography, etc).

Riverbank Arts Centre 

Newbridge, Co. Kildare

Gallery: Traditional, collaborative and community-led

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The aim of the Riverbank Arts Centre’s Visual Arts Programme is ‘to put the arts at the heart of Kildare life and people at the heart of the arts’. They wholeheartedly driven by the community. In their own words:

“The Visual Arts programme works with professional artists in a range of art forms from the established media of painting, sculpture, photography and printmaking to moving image, new media, live art, design and architecture…Exhibitions, projects, and events are selected and curated in-house by invitation and through an open selection process. Open Call’s for artists are published online, and through our various social media channels” Riverbank Arts Centre’s, 2018

The Seamus Ennis Arts Centre 

Naul, Fingal, Co. Dublin

Gallery: Traditional arts, collaborative and community-led 

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The Séamus Ennis Arts Centre (formerly The Séamus Ennis Cultural Centre) is a non profit centre that “aims to promote and develop the Arts on a local and regional basis, and to this end, we organize and host performances, cultural events, exhibitions, sessions, workshops and classes weekly” Séamus Ennis Arts Centre 2018.

I would seriously encourage you to try and find out where your nearest Art Centre is, check out the programme, take a visit and go see something! The people who work there are most likely very nice and there are so many things to see; Art, Theatre, Film or Dance. The prices are also quite accessible which also helps!







Wired Wednesday: DIY Jewellery you can make!

I’ll tell you a secret! Image by Ruth O’Hagan

I’ll tell you a secret! You don’t need expensive or complicated materials to make cool jewelry! Plus, you’ll probably get the most compliments for the stuff you make yourself.  You can’t get more unique than making your own! Take it from the queen of accessories herself:

“Jewelry is the most transformative thing you can wear…I think jewelry can change an outfit more than anything else. Transformation, punch, individuality: One or all of the above are why you should wear jewelry” – Iris Apfel

For making your own jewelry, start off small and just have fun! Here are some tips and some ideas to help get you started…

Recycle old Jewellery!

I have A LOT of jewelry and sometimes I get so bored with what I have. I’m sure everyone is the same! I’ll normally break up my old jewelry and pour all my beads into a large tin to use again. I even sometimes buy old necklaces in charity shops and do the same with them too. I’ll collect for a while, then when I have a minute or a quiet afternoon I sit down and see what I have and start making. You’d be amazing at what you can make when you get going!

Old recycled jewelry Image by Ruth O’Hagan
Upcycled necklace Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan
Upcycled bracelets Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan

Beaded Jewellery!

I don’t know about you, but my favorite beads are big, bright and full of texture! Along with looking cool in the summer, beads can also be very therapeutic to work with. You just cut a long piece of string or elastic, add a knot at the bottom and just add one bead at a time. When you’re finished beading, just tie another knot at the end and then a tie both ends together. There’s no one to tell you what to do, this is your time and your own design! I always find the crazier the design the better, because it means your really pushing the creative side of my brain.  You can also buy beads quite reasonably anywhere and a string of elastic only costs a euro in Tiger! Where would you be going wrong?

Beaded bracelets Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan

Friendship Bracelets!

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Did you know there are loads and loads of different kinds of ways to make a friendship bracelet? It’s a timeless classic, it makes every outfit look so chill and boho! There are even cute little ones that you can make with buttons! 


Heres a list of 15 ways to make a friendship bracelet! (Number 14 is the easiest, when in doubt just make a plait!)

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Wired Jewellery

Since finding an easy tutorial on Pinterest, I’m obsessed with making little cages for stones (perfect for chakra stones!). The one thing about working with wire is, it takes a little more patience than beading. You will also need a very good set of pliers (for cutting and to tweeze). You could probably get them online, I got mine in Tiger for less than a fiver! You can also wrap wire around stones or beads. You can find loads of tutorials on Pinterest if you wanna give it a try!  I’ve also found some beach glass and wrapped some gold cable around it and it came out pretty cool! With wire, you can also make pretty earrings! Find a tutorial that seems easiest to you and just get designing!


Beach glass necklace Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan
Chakra stone necklace Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan


Macrame accessories

Macrame necklace Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan

If you’ve never heard of it before, Macramé is a form of textile produced using knotting (rather than weaving or knitting) techniques. The primary knots of macramé are the square knot and forms of “hitching”: various combinations of half hitches. Macrame can be a little tricky! I started by using a large stone and wool to help me get used to the technique. It can take a lot of practice and focus. You can make lots of cool things using this technique, wall hangings, keyrings, earrings, necklaces and even bags!





Macrame keyrings Image via:
Macrame necklace Image and Jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan

Tassel Jewellery

I love that Tassel Jewellery has become huge! The things is, once you learn how to make tassels you can out them on loads of different things. You could make a tassel keyring for your bag, make earrings or even a cute necklace. All you need is a bit of string, some beads and away you go!

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Tassel Key ring Image via:

Jewelry is amazing because, for something so small, it can make a big difference! It can uplift your self-confidence and even just enhance your outfit. Remember every piece of jewelry tells a story, now let your jewelry tell your own. Now go and make something amazing. Sashay away!

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A Craft Lovers Guide to Dublin

The word ‘craft’ is an activity such as weaving, carving, or pottery that involves making things skilfully with your hands. We have such a long and rich history of craft, here in Ireland.  The most important milestone for Craft in Ireland was the emergence of the Arts and Crafts Movement which happened around 1888.  This movement was a pivotal period in Ireland’s history for it’s artistic and cultural heritage. The Craft Industry here in Ireland occupies a significant place in the country’s economic and cultural production. Here is a selection of Craft attractions in Dublin that continue to grow and flourish!

Ha’penny Flea Market

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This market happens every Saturday from noon to 6pm at the The Grand Social in Dublin. Here you will find an array of vintage clothes, vinyl, retro furniture, eclectic jewelry. It’s got a great vibe and it’s a fab way to nab some bargains!

Irish Design Shop

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The Irish Design shop is run by two jewellery makers,  Clare Grennan and Laura Caffrey. They work ferociously hard in promoting the work of some of Ireland’s most exciting designer-makers. The emphasis of their stock is placed on original design and craftsmanship. They stock both established and emerging makers who are gifted craftspeople with a passion for the craft and Irish Heritage. They also hold workshops in their shop from time to time.

National Museum of Ireland Decorative Arts & History

Image via: National Museum of Ireland

These guys are not just a history museum but they also show a very interesting collection of Arts and Industry artefacts. The Art & Industry Collections are run by a division that’s duty is to maintain Ireland’s heritage in the decorative arts, as well as its political, military and social history. Their upcoming events include a talk, where you can discover more about symbols of Ireland and a summer workshop which highlights the beauty of glass-making. The current exhibitions include; 21st Century Irish Craft, CAUTION! Fragile, (Irish Glass), Contemporary Collection of Design & Craft and Eileen Gray (pioneer of 20th Century design and architecture).

Industry & Co 

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Industry & Co is a lifestyle orientated concept store located in the heart of Dublin’s city, where people can shop, eat, drink and relax. It started off as a small boutique store in 2010 and is now one of the largest independent design stores in Dublin. Their stock is super cool – very rustic, chic and eclectic.

Makers and Brothers 

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These guys are just too cool but I’ll let them explain it for themselves;

“We wanted to develop a fresh approach to small-scale retail, one that told stories, brought attention to the beauty of the everyday. We wanted to explore objects of use; the simple, beautiful and sometimes nicely odd. We looked to engage with the idea of craft as a process, a production by hand or machine that created objects of integrity. Our curiosity fed endless conversations, encounters with incredible people and made every day an adventure” – Makers & Brothers, 2018


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They offer a beautifully a stunning range of contemporary tableware, decorative home accessories and stationery. This shop is guaranteed to make you smile! Their stock is so quirky, colorful and so so clever!

Jam Art Factory

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Introducing Jam Art Factory, they are a pretty exciting shop. They sell work by Ireland’s brightest and most brilliant artists. Their shop is literally exploding with work! Their stock is very whimsical and very funny.

“Rooted in a desire to showcase the abundant and talented artists emerging in Ireland today, Jam Art Factory first opened it’s doors on Patrick Street, in the heart of Dublin’s historic Liberties in 2011” –  Jam Art Factory, 2018

National Print Museum

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This is a very fascinating spot if you are interested in the history of Craft or just simply have an interest in print. It’s a very cool museum, they have a wide range of vintage print artifacts and there’s a lovely nostalgic vibe about the place. Their current exhibition is ‘Print, Protest, and The Polls: The Irish women’s suffrage campaign and the power of print media, 1908 – 1918’. It runs from the 17 May – 30 September 2018 and Admission is free of charge. Their mission is:

“To promote a greater understanding of the historical significance and the contemporary relevance of printing in Ireland by exploring its heritage, craft and technology” – National Print Museum, 2018

The Maker’s Hand: Fifty Years of the RDS Craft Awards

21 June to 17 August 2018

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I’ve saved the best till last, this exhibition sounds like a craft nerd’s dream!

From its foundation in 1731 the RDS has set out to encourage and promote Irish craft and design. In 1968 the RDS established the National Competition for the Encouragement of Applied Arts in Ireland. This ambitious initiative set out to recognise and celebrate the tacit, quietly honed skill of the maker. Today the RDS Craft Awards continue to support and encourage excellence in the sphere of the handmade and have assumed a central role in the world of craft in Ireland…This exhibition explores the rich history of the RDS Craft Awards from their inception in 1968 to the present day.

By the way, this is just a list of a few craft attractions in Dublin but there are many more all over the country! There are so many small independent craft shops that sell a wide range of work by emerging and established craftspeople. They are the perfect place to buy a unique gift for someone special and you’ll also be supporting a local artist.








Artists who painted their way through their depression

These people were the world’s greatest artists and they were much, much more than their depression. They worked through there overwhelming negative feelings through paintbrushes and created something truly beautiful. Sometimes when people channel these kinds of negative intense emotions, they can create something powerful without even realizing it. In this case, that power can be seen through the vivid colors, the otherworldly landscapes, the enigmatic expressions on faces and the thorough brush strokes.

Edgar Degas: Depression

Edgar Degas Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green) Image via:

Degas was a visual spectator. He painted not only what he saw but how it felt to be there. In particular, his paintings of ballerinas tell a story of nervous tension and excitement.

“Degas’ focus was on contour and form. A superb draftsman, he filled pages of sketchbooks with exquisite studies that reveal his drawing skills” Colleen 2015

Sadly he began losing his eyesight around the 1880’s. This was severely devastating to him as he could no longer perfectly capture the beauty and grace of his subjects. What he never knew was that his paintings would become timeless and he would become one of the most famous artist’s of all time. The subjects that he captured would live forever and the beauty would be appreciated all over the world.

“ the 1880s, Degas suffers from bouts of depression and aimlessness. “I’m blocked, impotent. I’ve lost the thread,” he wrote in a letter in 1884. The turmoil of midlife leads Degas to redefine the goal of his art away from the narrative and toward a deeply reflective expressionism – toward art for art’s sake, rather than as a window on the world” Scott Tyson, 1996 

Vincent Van Gogh: Schizophrenia/Bi-Polar

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Van Gogh is nearly as well known for his struggle with mental illness as he is for his art. This is mainly because he famously severed his own ear in 1888. There have been many speculations about why this event occurred (see below).

Professor Arko Oderwald explains that the “..ear incident “could come from alcohol intoxication, lack of sleep, work stress and troubles with Gauguin, who was going to leave.” (The two artists were close friends, and Van Gogh had hoped that their living together would be the start of a larger artists’ colony) (Cascone, 2016).

In 2016, Henri Neuendorf wrote that a “new study finds link Between Van Gogh’s Choice of Colors and His Mental Health. He further explains his palette became darker as his psyche declined.” After years in the sunlight and in storage the paint would have deteriorated. Neuendorf (2016) further explains that “researchers at the AAAS used an analysis technique known as x-ray fluorescence spectrometry to show that the artist painted each version progressively darker. The scientists suggest that the change was due to the gradual unraveling of the troubled artist’s psyche.”

“At first glance, they all look the same,” Casadio said, “But when you go deeper you can start to see that they tell us far more about the artist’s life and his quest for a home” (Neuendorf, 2016)

Paul Gauguin: Depression

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Gauguin spent 9 weeks living and working alongside Vincent van Gogh in the Provençal town of Arles (artnet, 2018). It is said that he became ‘..disillusioned with France, Gauguin ventured to the Tahiti and the neighboring islands, where he infamously took up with indigenous women, painting them nude in mysterious scenes’ (artnet, 2018). This is where he created the paintings that would later become world famous. The beautiful simplicity of shape and color would astound many audiences. Gauguin’s once said, “don’t paint too much directly from nature. Art is an abstraction,”

Michelangelo: Depression and Autism

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“One of the Renaissance’s most prolific and popular artists is almost as infamous for his melancholic misanthropy as he is the masterful frescoes, sculptures, poems and architectural works he created” (, 2010)

You might have wondered in the past just how someone could paint something as huge as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. According to a paper published in the Journal of Medical Biography in 2004, Michelangelo’s single-minded routine may have been due to the disorder. According to descriptions by his contemporaries, the painter was “preoccupied with his own reality.” Most of the male members of his family are recorded to have exhibited similar symptoms. Michelangelo also seems to have had difficulty forming relationships with people; he had few friends and didn’t even attend his brother’s funeral. All of this, combined with his obvious genius in math and art, led the researchers to believe that today Michelangelo would be considered high functioning on the autism spectrum (BENJAMIN, 2012) 

Edvard Munch: Panic attacks

The Scream by Edvard Munch
Edvard Munch by The Scream Image via

The world’s most famous painting ‘The Scream’ was inspired by a panic attack experienced by to Edvard Munch in Olso during January 1892. Munch recorded the episode in his diary:

“One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature” (BENJAMIN, 2012) 

This experience affected the artist so deeply he compulsively returned to this pivotal moment again and again. This event led to him making two paintings, two pastels, and a lithograph based on his experience. He also wrote a poem in his daily diary describing it. It isn’t known if Munch had any more panic attacks although mental illness did run in his family (his bipolar sister was in an asylum).


Frida Kahlo: Depression

Frida Kahlo, The two Frida’s (Image via:

Frida Kahlo wasn’t a stranger to mental illness. The life and work of this inspiring artist illustrate an uncanny amount of pain, suffering, and loss’ (Campese, 2015). She was diagnosed with minor depression, experienced two major depressive episodes and suicide attempts throughout her lifetime Savannah 2018.

“According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness: “Kahlo was diagnosed with minor depression, but experienced two major depressive episodes and suicide attempts during her lifetime…Her apparent dissociation and identity issues lead many researchers and historians to believe that Kahlo suffered from an array of mental illnesses—from posttraumatic stress disorder to bipolar disorder to dissociative identity disorder””  (Campese, 2015).

We all have the potential to channel our energy and create something. It doesn’t have to be a painting. It can be whatever brings you joy. These artists have proven time and time again that beauty can be created from pain.




10 DIY tips for your inner artist!

Tip 1: Anything can be a canvas! 

Honestly, anything can be a canvas with a little bit of imagination and some inspiration. I’ve shown a few shown a few examples below. The list includes; old jars and bottles, old (spoiled) books, plain notebooks, blank mugs and even sand on a beach! It’s all just about being curious, experimenting and having fun.

Watercolour painted on old (spoiled) book (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan) 
Beach Heart by Mia Dawson Boyle (photo by Ruth O’Hagan)

Tip 2: Recycle old Jars are ideal for storage!

I have always recycled jars and used them again. I generally use them as storage for paint brushes, beads, and use it to store water for painting (you can also turn them into candle holders/storage for makeup brushes and for storing sweets for Halloween (or anytime really!)

Old jar painted with sharpie & glitter nail varnish (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Old jar painted with sharpie & glitter nail varnish (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)

Old jar painted with acrylic paint & a sharpie marker (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)

Tip 3: Create/redesign your own sketchbook planner!

Keeping a journal is brilliant for so many reasons! In this case, it’s somewhere you can keep all your lovely creative ideas together. You can keep notes of projects you want to try or any other cool ideas you might have. You can easily buy a cheap plain old notebook and decorate it in your style. I’ve shown a few examples below to give you some ideas.

Plain black sketchbook book decorated with wasabi tape (photo by Ruth O’Hagan)
Daily planner; drawn using sharpie marker, coloured pencils and wasabi tape  (photo by Ruth O’Hagan)
Month planner; drawn using sharpie marker and watercolors (photo by Ruth O’Hagan)
Plain notebook decorated using vinyl stickers (photo by Ruth O’Hagan)


Tip 4: Don’t be afraid to experiment with texture!

I’m always sticking crazy things onto my art because I find it makes the process much more fun. It will also make your art even more unique!

Acrylic painting featuring ‘stick on gems’ (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Acrylic painting featuring ‘stick on gems’ (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)


Acrylic painting featuring ‘stick on flower’  (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Acrylic painting featuring ‘stick on flowers’ headband (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Acrylic painting featuring ‘stick on flowers’ headband (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)


Tip 5: Decorate your own mug (also can be used for storage!)

Painting and making things can be thirsty work! Mugs are also another very handy multi-purpose item! I have found that they can be also be used for storing water for painting, storage for pen, pencils, scissors etc.

Plain mug decorated with a sharpie marker and red nail varnish (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)


Tip 6: Upcycle old Bottle’s as home decor

You don’t have to decorate them with skulls like me. I just make these for Halloween last year. The more colour in the bottles the better! You could bring old dark bottles to life with lots of bright paint. The flowers I got below are artificial flowers from Ikea and were quite cheap too.

Recycled bottles painted using silver paint and a black sharpie marker  (photo by Ruth O’Hagan)
Recycled bottles decorated with jewelry (photo and jewellery by Ruth O’Hagan)

Tip 7: Potato stamps!

You should try this just for fun! I can’t be the only one who tried these when I was a kid, am I right? You’ll need to cut a potato in half and carve some shapes using a knife. Then all you’ll need is some paint and you’re all set!

Potatoe stamp (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Potatoe stamp (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)

Tip 8: Make a gift!

Put your creative skills to the test and make someone you love something special! They will be delighted that you made them something especially for them. Here are some examples below that I have previously made for friends and family. You can also find lots of tutorials on Pinterest. 

Handmade dream catcher  (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Lego Art (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Handmade birdhouse (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Pillow (made from an old t-shirt) (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Tape purse (photo and art by Ruth O’Hagan)


Tip 9: Try copy from your famous artist!

Give it a try, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn. You can buy art materials very cheaply. I buy a lot of my material from places like Tiger , Dealz or EuroGeneral. Remember everyone started off somewhere even the world’s greatest artists!

‘Starry night’  (replica) originally painted by Vincent Van Gogh (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)
‘Still life’  (replica) originally painted by Pablo Picasso (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)

Tip 10: When in doubt, draw what you know!

Sometimes we don’t feel very inspired, we might be burdened with responsibilities or you might just feel a bit down. Maybe try painting or drawing what you know. I love coffee and food they are normally my ‘go to’s’. Try it for yourself!

Quick pen and paper drawing (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Drawn using black sharpie (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)
Watercolor with a black sharpie (photo & art by Ruth O’Hagan)

Go on and try some of these DIY tips. I’m sure your inner or outer artist will be delighted with the results! If you’re happy to share then let me know what you make. I’d love to see it. If you’d like to check out more of my DIY projects check out my Pinterest. Have a lovely day and have fun!