Leo and Mark Kinsella-O’Shaughnessy were the first same-sex couple to announce their engagement in the Irish Times, after the successful Marriage Equality referendum on May 22nd last year. A year later, and we are just back from their amazing celebration – in blazing French-Riviera-style sunshine – at Castle Leslie, for which I had the honour of designing their invitations and wedding stationery.
In the immortal words of Brendon Marczan, ‘If this is the new normal, where one throws a celebration for 200 of your family and closest friends, where you get married at a castle where a Beatle married his supermodel girlfriend, then that’s a ‘normal’ I’m glad to be part of!
This year was the first that I made over to OFFSET, the highly regarded design and creative conference which has been held ever year in Dublin since 2009. Previously I had been put off due to timings but had no reason to miss it this year – and how glad I was that I didn’t. The three days of talks have been a serious wakeup call for me in terms of my own work, and how I am going to move forward with it.
What I am realising is that the emotional journey and background of the creator is just as important as the work itself – and sharing this with an audience- which is something that I really have to work on! Highlights for me were Stephen Kelleher’s beautiful animation and photography; Morag Myerscough’s joyful, vibrantly colourful sculptures and installations; the quirky, buzzing character design and animation of TADO, and the foulmouthed, hilarious genius of Mr Bingo.
I am now going away to have a long hard think about what I am doing and where I am going…….
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has an annual tradition of publishing a specially written Christmas poem, and I was fortunate enough to work with her on this year’s book. ‘The Wren Boys’ is based upon the old Irish country tradition on St. Stephen’s Day of ‘hunting the wren’ – where local boys would dress up as mummers, catch the bird and parade it around town.
When researching the history and folklore for the book, I found out that the wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) has a treacherous reputation. Not only is the wren said to have fought on the side of Viking invaders against Irish soldiers, legend has it that the dastardly bird caused the death of the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen, when it noisily betrayed his presence to his enemies.
In one of Aesop’s fables, when the wren and the eagle challenged each other to see who could fly the highest, the wren rested on the eagle’s back, and when the eagle tired, the wren flew out above him, proving that cleverness is better than strength. Finally, according to Suetonius, an unfortunate wren tried to warn Julius Caesar of his impending assassination by flying to the Senate with a laurel branch; but was torn to pieces by a flock of other birds. Heavy stuff!
The Wren Boys is now available to buy online and in your local bookshop.
Heres a wee cracker of a project I worked on earlier in the year. On Friday May 22nd, Ireland voted a resounding YES to extending marriage rights to same-sex couples – the first country in the world to do so by popular vote!
And subsequently, my friends Leo and Mark’s engagement was the first to be announced in the Irish Times, as a result of the Yes Result. Truly momentous!
I’m getting as much value as possible out of my Netflix subscription; having just watched the entire three seasons of ‘House of Cards’……again. And my favourite character of all is Claire Underwood, the ruthless, cunning, and conniving First Lady. I can’t wait to see what mischief she will get up to in Series 4, which unfortunately won’t air until next February……………….
This month, GQ FRANCE is all about rugby, and how the dual nature of the sport, brute force and respect, is viewed as the ideal template for how to operate within a corporate environment. This interesting anecdote also came up:
South Africa, Rugby World Cup, 1995. France defeats England for the third time. After the game, the English team decide to drown their sorrows at a pub/restaurant called Ed’s Diner, unaware that the French team had also chosen this place to celebrate their victory. Things could have turned ugly but instead the two teams bonded through a series of drinking games and a riotous food fight.
If I had known that this sort of thing went on rather than just simply stumbling around in the muck in the Navan Road sports grounds, I might have stuck with it during my formative years in Belvedere………there’s NOTHING like a good food fight………
Exciting! My Jameson St. Patrick’s Day 2014 bottle design has been chosen for Gail Anderson’s fantastic new book ‘Outside the Box: Hand-Drawn Packaging from around the World’- published by the Princeton Architectural Press. It’s released on October 6th and you can pre-order it on Amazon….
The story of the emotional turmoil experienced by a gauche herd of rural cows when they are joined by a sophisticated, high maintenance ‘city cow’, ‘City Sue’ is a storybook collaboration between Kerrygold Butter, children’s author Jeanne Willis and me! You can also view an animated version of the storybook online at www.kerrygold.co.uk, narrated by the one and only Chris O’Dowd……..
So GQ France have published an invaluable guide to using a gym or a spa this month! If you are wondering about what type of shower gel you should use; what towel you should bring, what’s the appropriate exfoliant to use in or out of the shower, look no further; they have it covered………..
Rathmullan House is a beautiful country house hotel on the shores of Lough Swilly, County Donegal, and they have just have commissioned a suite of illustrations for use in their award winning restaurant. The images were inspired by the woodcuts of Eric Gill and will feature on their new seasonal menus.
French salad engineers Florette, along with Havas 360, have commissioned me to create drawings in balsamic vinegar for their ‘Fraicheur et Fantaisie’ campaign; which launched on Valentine’s day. The billboard ads can be seen nationwide (a France, naturellement) and were created with the help of genius photographer Gareth Hacker.
You can see some more of Gareth’s work here…
Campaign / Havas 360 for Florette
Jameson, the world’s favourite Irish whiskey, have commissioned me to design their St. Patricks Day 2014 Limited Edition Bottle. The bottle will be available to buy in travel retail outlets and will be on sale in over 40 markets worldwide, including Russia, Japan and Australia, from February 2014.
Yet another map, but this time its for Womens’ Health, illustrating global sexual habits – such as how long for, different activities, who with, and what time of the day or night! Some surprises ensue……
I have just created a series of illustrations for B&Q’s ‘One Planet Home’ initiative; their commitment to doing business responsibly and using resources wisely. You can see the full set of illustrations online here.
You can now buy prints from my online Etsy store!
Prints are made on Hahnemuhle PhotoRag 308gsm museum quality archival paper; and signed and numbered in an edition of 20.
Happy New Year!