Family of artists are linked to historic Carrigaline Pottery

Three members of the Roberts family are showcasing their work at a new gallery in Carrigaline, writes MARY HASSETT
Family of artists are linked to historic Carrigaline Pottery

Sara Roberts showcasing her work at the Straight out of Ireland Exhibition in Philadelphia last year.

SARA Roberts made a leap of faith when she decided to convert a tumbledown hen house in Nohoval into a ceramic studio.

Her grandfather, Hodder WB Roberts, made a similar leap of faith when he set up Carrigaline Pottery in 1928.

The Owenabue Arts Collective is making another very welcome leap of faith by opening a gallery in Bridge House, Main Street, Carrigaline, in the run up to Christmas.

Sara and two other members of the Roberts family, landscape artist Dorothee Roberts and her daughter, Constance, who is a portrait painter and illustrator, are all showcasing their work in the new Gallery too.

The Owenabue Arts Collective had a temporary gallery space this autumn in the former O’Crualaoi Butchers’ premises which was originally a hardware store owned by the Roberts family.

“We have 24 artists all from the locality and the numbers are growing all the time. The owner of the premises is very supportive as is Cork County Council and Creative Ireland”, points out Mary Murphy, one of the founders of the Owenabue Arts Collective.

“This is the first time that there has been a space dedicated to representing the arts in Carrigaline and surrounding areas. It will be a fantastic cultural amenity,” says Mary.

Artists Mary and Stephen Murphy led a team of volunteers who worked night and day preparing Bridge House for the Gallery opening.

Landscape artist Dorothee Roberts
Landscape artist Dorothee Roberts

Hodder WB Roberts showed equally dedication to Carrigaline back in 1927 when he set off for Stoke-on-Trent with a cocoa tin full of local clay.

Hodder met a frosty reception from the big pottery firms but happened by chance on a pottery student who confirmed that Carrigaline clay was suitable for making tableware. That student, Louis Keeling, together with his wife and child, and six other potters, subsequently followed Hodder WB Roberts back to Ireland and Carrigaline Pottery was born.

Sara shares that love of clay with her grandfather. She had become disillusioned with the growing influence of computers in graphic design and switched instead to ceramics when her children were young.

During her two year ceramics training in Colaiste Stiofain Naofa in Cork, Sara developed a preference for creating wall pieces.

“My work often depicts expanses of sand, sea and sky with distant horizons and detailed foregrounds creating a three-dimensional effect,” Sara explains.

When Sara was starting out as a ceramic artist in 2003, her husband, Gidi Gur, was working as a jewellery maker.

“I tagged along with him to all the Craft Fairs putting my wall pieces as a backdrop to his jewellery”, Sara acknowledges.

Gidi now cooks Middle Eastern food for Farmers’ Markets and other events.

Sara and Gidi live in a converted coach house in Nohoval on land that was originally farmed by her parents, Jack and Joan Roberts. #

The adjoining ramshackle hen house would never have become a ceramic studio without the hands on support of their friends.

One of Dorothee Roberts coastal scenes.
One of Dorothee Roberts coastal scenes.

Lesley Roberts, who is Sara’s first cousin, lives in Mount Rivers House, Carrigaline, with his artist wife Dorothee.

This is the house where Lesley’s grandfather, Hodder WB Roberts, was born, lived and died.

Up to recently, Lesley and Dorothee ran a picture framing business called Roberts and Roberts.

Dorothee grew up in northern France but came to stay with her father’s friends in Minane Bridge when she needed to perfect her English.

Lesley was a friend of the family’s son and romance blossomed.

“I decided at 16 that I wanted to be an artist and I did my studies in Paris before coming to live here.

"When our children, Charlotte and Constance, were small I used to have one hand rocking the pram and the other hand on the table trying to paint,” laughs Dorothee.

“I love using oils to paint the coastal rocks but really whatever subject you choose is irrelevant. It’s what you make of it that counts. Colour and texture are my focus,” Dorothee points out.

Artist Constance Roberts whose work is on display in Bridge House, Carrigaline.
Artist Constance Roberts whose work is on display in Bridge House, Carrigaline.

Constance Roberts began drawing at a very early age and went on to do a Bachelors’ Degree in the Crawford College of Art and Design followed by a course in illustration at St. John’s Central College.

“My main interest is portraits, I love drawing people the most. I always enjoyed cartoons and illustrations when I was little and doing that course in St John’s College helped me to develop that more,” Constance points out.

A painting by Constance Roberts featuring a view from Carrigaline Park across from the Crosshaven walk
A painting by Constance Roberts featuring a view from Carrigaline Park across from the Crosshaven walk

“Mum would be known for her landscape paintings and funnily enough over the past year I have got into landscape pictures too but in a more illustrative, brightly coloured, almost cartoon like style”, says Constance.

The work of Constance, Dorothee and Sara Roberts along with a host of other local artists and craftspeople 4 can be viewed in the new Gallery each day from 10am to 6pm in the run up to Christmas.

See www.owenabuearts.ie 

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