Inspired ideas and contemporary creations showcased

Unique patterned rocking horses, limited edition prints, handcrafted seascapes in silver, functional paper handbags and heraldry gifts are among the innovative craft products and giftware from Northern Ireland being shown for the first time at Showcase Ireland 2008 in Dublin from 20-23 January.

Nine of the 15 companies, all smaller enterprises, in the Invest Northern Ireland pavilion are new to the event, now one of the biggest shows for crafts and giftware in Europe, which is being held at the RDS. Craft Northern Ireland, the body set up to assist the sector’s growth, will also be on the Invest NI stand.

Alan Hingston, Invest NI’s Trade Director, commenting on the event, said: “Showcase has generated substantial business for many craft companies over the years that we’ve been taking part.

“As a result, it’s an extremely popular show with local companies and it’s encouraging to see so many newcomers on our stand with some very interesting and innovative products.

“One of the key features of the show is the work that Enterprise Ireland does to attract international visitors particularly from the vast network of ethnic stores in the US seeking both traditional and contemporary crafts from Ireland.

“Craft and giftware is now a vibrant and creative sector in Northern Ireland. It’s also a sector which is beginning to experience the benefits from increasing tourism,” he added.

Clodagh Miskelly of Belfast-based Sugarlump Rocking Horses, a manufacturer of richly patterned Victorian rocking horses, which are made from sustainable timber, is among the first-timers at Showcase.

“Showcase is a marvellous opportunity for me to reach a wide audience of potential buyers in one place. I am really looking forward to launching my rocking horses at this international event.  It’ll also be good to be with other local craft companies and to talk to buyers from Ireland and further afield.”

Now in its thirty-first year, Showcase is an important monitor of evolving trends, an essential platform for launching new products and the arena for emerging designers and small companies to introduce themselves to the wider community of buyers.

The Northern Ireland group will be among 650 exhibitors, mostly from the British Isles.

Showcase is marketed internationally by Enterprise Ireland and attracts around 10,000 trade buyers. It is organised on behalf of the Crafts Council of Ireland and is Ireland’s largest trade fair.

One of the most important aspects of Showcase is the presentation of fresh talent in the Enterprise Hall, a distinctive focal point for new products, new faces and new ideas.

Other Northern Ireland companies which have their own stands include Belleek Pottery, Tyrone Crystal, Ulster Weavers and Thomas Ferguson.

Northern Ireland companies and organisations taking part in Showcase 2008 in Dublin from 20-23 January 2008

Bradley Art, Kircubbin - new limited edition giclee prints.  

Catherine Scott Ceramics, Omagh - hand painted earthenware ceramics.

Celtoi Designs, Dundonald - Celtic art pictures.  

Claddagh Crafts, Dungannon – an exclusive range of plaques, picture frames and hanging decorations.

Clara B, Belfast - colourful mixed media wall pieces, resin jewellery andfashion and interior accessories.

Craft Northern Ireland, Belfast – representative body.

Designed4U, Warrenpoint - functional craft and giftware from Irish slate

Game Park Silver Blarney, Lisburn - hand-crafted study of Ireland’s landscapes and seascapes in silver.

Leading Lady, Enniskillen - one-off pieces of functional paper handbags.

Lorsha Design, Newry – hand painted fabrics for wall hangings, frame pieces and table runners.

Marion Woodburn, Ballymena -unique jewellery collections in silver, gold and platinum inspired by the rural landscape of Co Antrim.

O’Donnell Press, Jordanstown - children’s picture books set in various Irish locations.

Riley Photography, Dundrum - landscape and fine art photography.

Strand by Jane McCann, Dundrum- Technical recreational apparel.

Sugarlump Rocking Horses, Belfast – patterned rocking horses crafted using sustainable timbers.

The Perfect Gift, Ballymoney – heraldry gifts.