This post was inspired by a throwaway comment my “very grown-up” son made about my recent project Wicklow Marketplace

I have a tendency to talk about the projects I’m involved in a lot and he thought it was amusing to call it “RachBook” as I excitedly spoke of the artists and the craftspeople onboarding the website. Basically he put his finger on exactly what I was doing in collaboration with Robin Free who listened to this crazy concept mid-pandemic and who jumped in with me!

This was the community I wanted to be immersed in and especially at this time when we were all physically removed from our normalities we were living prior to this. The need was part nostalgia for the creative community in 90s Dublin and partly the need to communicate, create and help others while in lockdown. So I suppose I did create an environment I wanted to exist in, an alternative reality. The arts and crafts community is supportive, nurturing and passionate about what they do, which is an energy I enjoy being next to.

Our branding, identity and logo was designed based on the authenticity of makers in Ireland, as a warm community with ancient skills encouraging a “circular economy” in Ireland with materials sourced locally (low carbon footprint) made locally and initially sold locally with scope for growth.

Having worked with SMEs, individuals and organisations on digital transformation, community projects and communication research through design, what emerged was a gap between where people are and where they need to be, specifically in rural areas. Although there are grants, courses and funding offered to businesses, start-ups and research, there is much to be done for the craft sector. There are many factors already in the public domain regarding the benefits of making and doing, rather than passively ingesting spoon-fed regurgitated fodder. (social media)

Over the course of our many lockdowns in Ireland, people realised the value of authentic content, to keep mentally stimulated. Arts and crafts have never steered from this path, living close to the ground keeps us well, the social benefits are stated here in a report from Australian Parliament, Environment and Communications Chapter 3 on The benefits of Indigenous art

“The function of art and craft extends beyond aesthetic pleasure – it is embedded in daily life, family connection, traditional law as well as in dreaming lore and spirituality. For many Indigenous artists, visual art and craft is not seen as a commodity but rather as something akin to a family member – it represents a multi-layered connection to the past, present and future. The social role of creating visual art and craft is also primary to the social benefit and meaning of art and craft activity in the community context.” In the context of cultural heritage in Ireland…”artists express their culture, identity and connection to the land and their community through their art”.

We are extremely fortunate to live in a place steeped in history where relics and cultural reminders of the earliest Celtic settlers who left behind traditions, skills and influences for craftspeople who are keeping this legacy alive in Ireland. Rest/crafting time is crucial for people who are artists and craftspeople,  it is respectful and considers the human in the craft. Artisans do not all mass produce for larger markets and success is not measured purely by economic drivers.This legacy needs room to breathe, needs practical support, nurturing and a cohesive strategy to thrive as a community for future generations as opposed to mining and exploiting the greater good for us all. #madelocal #lovemadelocal #localbusiness #supportloca #championgreen