My Weekend: Work never really stops... but we love a lazy Sunday morning

Ceramic artist Charlie Mahon enjoys sharing good food in great company, both in his work and on his weekend.
My Weekend: Work never really stops... but we love a lazy Sunday morning

Charlie Mahon, founder of Charlie Mahon Ceramics. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

I am an Irish artist and ceramicist who makes pottery in my studio in Little Island. Every platter, mug and bowl I make is individual; handmade, hand painted, and fired here in my kiln in Cork.

It’s been a big few years. I joined Cork Craft and Design, a fantastic cooperative for local crafts, when I had the idea of creating artistic platters and bowls to complement your table.

With help from them, and the Local Enterprise Office, Charlie Mahon Ceramics Pottery was launched in 2017. I started with the “Mac” mackerel design, and things went from there.

We were in a leaky shed in 2019 when we went full-time, crossing our fingers it would work. It did and in 2020, just before Covid, we launched our website.

While it was a challenge, I think Covid was good for Irish craft in some ways — with supply chain issues, people realised they needed to support local and everyone wants lovely things to make their home their haven.

Charlie Mahon ceramics mug and small rectangular platter.
Charlie Mahon ceramics mug and small rectangular platter.

2021 was a great year — we moved to a new (dry!) studio and opened a stall in the English Market. We are delighted to get the stall there; we’re surrounded each day by fine craft, fine food and Cork humour… our perfect fit!

In 2022 we’re looking forward to taking on staff and I’m off to Italy, hopefully! I’ve been picked to represent Irish ceramics in the Argilla Italia International Ceramics Festival (September).

We have four collections now — the Mac, our red “Grá” heart, the “Chroí Glas” green heart and the “Witty Sheep”.

I really enjoyed developing these ideas. My partner and wife Elmarie — aka Ellie — works with me on building the brand and oversees the business side.

We’re a local company — I’m not into competing with mass-produced pottery from China. Each piece is unique, handmade and hand painted here in Cork, and a ‘one off’ to be used every day. I sign each and every one. I hope my cups and plates add a splash of colour and joy to the everyday — like that precious first cup of tea or that special slice of homemade cake with a friend.

What is your ideal way to spend a Friday night?

Out and about, exploring Cork with friends. I can’t wait to go out again; meet in Corner House, on to Cask for nibbles, and then see where the night takes us. We often pick a street in Cork to explore — go somewhere we wouldn’t normally go, just to see what’s new.

Lie ins or up with the lark.. which is it for you?

I’m usually up early, I can’t stay in bed. I like to have a cup of tea and get to work — I might do some sketches or clean up a bit.

Does work creep into your weekend at all?

It never really stops! As well as working away in the studio, I’m often chatting to people about commissions — and our stall is open in the English Market on Saturdays as well.

We love a lazy Sunday morning when we can — we get all the papers, spread them out over the table, and then relax over a long breakfast.

If money was no object where would you head to on a weekend city break? And who would you bring with you?

I’d bring Ellie and I can’t pick just one. We’d visit Barcelona, New York, London, maybe the south of France? I’d browse the smaller galleries there, find out what’s going on locally in the design shops and see what’s new in the marketplaces. In a pure fantasy I’d bring artists Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, and Max Beckmann with me.

One of Charlie's new mugs.
One of Charlie's new mugs.

Closer to home, is there some place you like to head to recharge the batteries?

We love West Cork, especially Glengarriff. It’s where we got married and where the inspiration for our mackerel design came to me — watching the fishing boats come back, loaded with shining fish and the seagulls swooping around, trying to grab them.

Do you like to catch up with family/friends at the weekend?

It’s been hard over the last two years — as well as Covid, we have been so busy with the business. But when we get a chance it’s great to gather together for some shared food, fun, laughter and long chats.

Do you get to indulge any hobbies? Even as a spectator?

Rugby. I like to listen to it on the radio while I’m working away — - but I have to stop if the game starts going badly!

Entertain or be entertained? If it’s the latter do you have a signature dish?

We love entertaining. I did a Ballymaloe tapas course years back; it inspired many an evening with friends, which in turn inspired me to develop visual plates in various shapes and sizes, so everyone can find the perfect fit for their table.

I love an informal platter buffet. We pick it up at the market: On The Pig’s Back for meats, pates and cheeses; the Real Olive Co for olives, goats’ cheeses and olive oil; and, of course, Mr Bell’s for some spice.

We have so many places to eat out in Cork — where are your go to spots for coffee/ lunch/ special meal?

I’d love to try the Glass Curtain on MacCurtain Street. I hear it’s spectacular — and right next door to Cask, a favourite of ours.

We have great lunch options in the English Market; you can’t beat Farmgate for people watching, Coffee Central is right next to us for coffee and chats with Mary, and there’s always O’Flynn sausages to take away if you are on the run.

Sunday night comes around too fast... how do you normally spend it?

It’s been a busy year, with the new studio move and opening our English market stall, so we wind down with a takeaway. Add some lovely craft beer and pop on The Witcher (Ellie’s pick) or Wheel of Time — perfect.

What time does your alarm clock go off on Monday morning?

Ellie would say too early! It goes off at 6.20am and I get up at 6.45am — in the dark at the moment. I have a mug of tea and a shower, and head down to my studio.

What else are you up to at the moment?

We have recently introduced  the new “Chroí Glas” Green Heart range and a Heart Espresso mug and I am looking forward to seeing those in people’s hands. I think they’ll be great for Valentine’s or Mother’s day – you can give someone special your heart on a plate, or a cup!

I’m also working on a series of one-off framed pieces based on my sketches from the early 90’s. If you’d like to see these, or any of our collections, pop into to us at our stall in the English Market.

I use white earthenware clay and my own (secret!) recipe of glazes to create colourful, fun pieces that are microwave and dishwasher-safe. I hope they bring a smile each time and create lovely centrepieces for your feasts.

You can visit us at the studio in Little Island, by appointment, or pop into our stall in the English Market.

We currently open Mondays, and Thursday through Saturday from 10.30am to 4.30pm — check our social media for the most up-to-date hours.

  • See https://www.charliemahon.com/
  • You can contact Charlie at
    charlie@charliemahon.com or at 087 298 7703
  • See our new designs on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/charlie
    mahonceramics/
  • Follow our news on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Charlie
    MahonCeramics/

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