I wrote this article about a good friend of mine who lives in Connemara and I’d like to include it here on my blog. You can also read this feature in the June edition of the Connemara Journal.
Kathleen Davis is a native of Inishnee, a small island across the bay from Roundstone. She is the artist and businesswoman behind the ‘Little Handmade Button Company,’ which operates in the village of Recess in Connemara.
Kathleen believes she inherited her love of craft from her parents – her father Pat Davis is a respected traditional Irish boat builder and her mother Bridie is a farmer and a community activist who inspired Kathleen with her strong work ethic.
Kathleen discovered clay at an early age while visiting local Roundstone potters Rose O’Toole and Seamus Laffin. She went on to study ceramics at the Limerick College of Art but returned to Connemara shortly afterwards, a place which she describes as part of being, the source of her artistic inspiration and her happiness.
The Button Company is designed to fit around family life – Kathleen lives and works in Recess with her husband Mark Joyce and their two young daughters Sadie and Alice. Kathleen goes to work each day in her studio which is located on the first floor of their family run craft shop ( Joyce’s of Recess ) where each button is carefully formed and glazed by hand. The buttons are transported on shelves which are slotted straight into the kiln in a nearby building.
Kathleen’s studio in Recess
Unpacking the kiln
Kathleen uses high fired stoneware and some porcelain and coloured clays. The button range is available in a choice of colours and there are also mixed packs in different colours and shapes. The buttons are packaged on site and sold in the craft shop downstairs. The business is small and perfectly formed and is ideal for expansion as family life permits. Kathleen combines her Connemara collection with a number of bespoke buttons which she makes for Irish knitwear designers – ‘The combination is satisfying and manageable with a young and busy household’ she explains.
Close up of buttons
When I ask Kathleen about artists she admires, she mentions Galway ceramist Katherine West and sculptor Dorothy Cross as well as Belfast born John Kindness and his use of greek imagery on industrial objects. Kathleen collects art books of all kinds and she likes to display an open book in her hallway for inspiration and as a conversation piece with her girls. I ask Kathleen what is the best advice she has been given as an artist and she tells me that she was once urged not to leave it any longer than three months without creating something, because we must ‘fan the flames of creativity in order for it to flourish.’ I ask what advice Kathleen might give to an aspiring artist and she replies ‘work as consistently as possible and enjoy it!’
You can purchase Kathleen’s buttons at Joyces Craft shop in Recess and you can contact The Button Company at 095-34604