Wednesday 11 December 2019

My cultural life: Mairead deBlaca, jewellery designer

Mairead deBlaca
Mairead deBlaca
Eileen Gray
Babette's Feast
Watership Down

Mairead deBlaca, from Mallow, Co Cork, is the founder of the multi award-winning jewellery brand deBlaca Jewellery. Her designs are first created as paintings before being turned into pieces of jewellery. Her painting, Large Yellow Flower, was the inspiration for her jewellery range after so many friends and family commented that you could pick the flower from the canvas and wear it. Mairead sees each piece of jewellery as a piece of art that can be worn from day into night. She studied history and archaeology in University College Cork, and worked and travelled extensively throughout the USA, Africa and Asia, gathering inspiration as she went. Her studio is based in Dublin. deBlaca jewellery is available online at, in Kilkenny and CarraigDonn stores.

Designer: Eileen Gray

Eileen Gray

When I lived in Washington, DC in the early 1990s, I inherited from a friend a very old and battered side table made by Eileen Gray (above). At the time I had no idea what it was but I loved its simple yet contemporary design. It wasn't until years later that I recognised it for what it was. Her designs have quietly drawn me in, their simple lines, the modern twists on old themes and her architectural approach to furniture and carpet design. Her pieces could easily be designed in today's world and would blend into a modern home. The table of my DC years is well gone but its memory is with me still.

Music: L'elisir d'amore by Donizetti

I am pretty tone deaf, a fact that the nuns were happy to drill into me as child. But I do love opera, it must be the costumes and the drama. There are so many but I remember being fixed in my seat listening to the tenor aria "Una furtiva lagrima" of the Italian opera L'elisir d'amore by Donizetti. I always feel with opera you don't really have to be able to understand the language it is being sung in, in this case Italian, the music takes you on the journey.

Film: Babette's Feast

Babette's Feast (below) is a Danish movie, subtitled in English, set in a rural 19th Century village. Two older sisters who lead a simple puritan life decide to take in a French refugee, Babette Hersant, against their neighbours' advice. Babette agrees to work as their servant. After winning the lottery, Babette wants to repay the sisters for their kindness and offers to cook a lavish French meal for them. It is a story of friendship, human endeavour and kindness. It is hard to beat a good old story. I also love action movies where you don't have to think.

Babette's Feast

TV: Star Trek

I love science fiction, the limitless boundaries of space which I think reflects the unlimited imagination of the 'artist', new experiences, new adventures, to "go where no wo(man) has gone before".

Book: Watership Down

Watership Down

My torn, battered copy of Watership Down (above) by Richard Adams is one that has travelled with me. It was one of the few books that made me cry. I loved each character and their struggles for freedom, exile, survival, heroism, leadership, political responsibility., also available in Kilkenny and CarraigDonn stores.

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