Friday 9 December 2016

Our homegrown creatives compete despite the slump

Published 09/12/2012 | 05:00

"The timing of the Budget isn't helpful, it's crazy really," says Dublin retailer and Seagreen boutique owner Sarah Gill. Sarah, who's just opened her second store in Ranelagh, Dublin 6, hopes her latest departure "is a fortune favouring the brave moment". For the week that was in it, Sarah wasn't the only Irish woman forging ahead in extremely challenging times. Kirsten Sheridan's latest film, Dollhouse, opened in cinemas last Friday with an all Irish cast, including Seana Kerslake.

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Sarah's frontline position in retail has allowed her to see the direction of people's spending. "You do hear of people travelling to London to shop and also buying online. In the age of austerity, if you do have money, you don't want to be seen shopping here," explains Gill. She wants to encourage people to "shop local" as it has a "big impact on independent businesses when people do". But even at that she notes how people interpret the 'shop local' phrase as "parochial".

Sheridan, whose work had brought her all over the world, agrees with Sarah's observations and believes that there is an "insecurity at the heart of" this interpretation.

"In other countries we're seen as leading the pack with designers like John Rocha and Lainey Keogh, music-wise and with all of our artisan food producers. When you look at the size of our country we're competing at the highest level."

Kerslake, 22, who makes her film debut in Dollhouse, plays Jeanie, a "confused but not malicious character". Kerslake talks about wanting to get "bums on seats", but will Irish people choose an Irish film over a Hollywood blockbuster?

"People will go and see what they want to go and see but people have an interest, it being an Irish film, and it does offer a lot, there are funny moments, it's a good watch and there's great music too."

Sheridan credits RTE's latest crime drama with changing people's perceptions about our productions. "Love/Hate on the telly helps people really start to appreciate the talent here and how we're punching above our weight in terms of acting. I hope people want to see an Irish product as opposed to a foreign one because it holds up a mirror to our lives here."

Dollhouse, which documents a group of inner-city teenagers' wild party over the course of one night, has already won three festival awards so far in New York, Sweden and in the Ukraine.

Sarah Gill's own success has rested on her ability to change and react. "Before, people weren't thinking before they spent and now every purchase is a considered one." Her trading staple has been high-quality denim like J-Brand. The equation people work out in their head is "how much will I wear it versus the cost", notes Gill.

Sheridan has done the same with her product in that it is a "different film" with "lots of twists and turns, it's a 'party-atmosphere-film' like Trainspotting but with something human to say".

Dollhouse is in selected cinemas now. www.seagreen.ie.

Sunday Independent

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