About / Faoi
Kilcoe Studios is a small rural business that celebrates Native Irish Plants. These local plants are painted in season by artist Sonia Caldwell and are then made available as Greeting Cards, Calendars, and Prints.
Many native plants have a long history of use in heritage crafts – like rushes, straw and willow. Sonia also is keen to promote this through workshops in schools and elsewhere. Some crafts that are focused on are weaving, textiles, dyeing, paint making, and paper-making.
The original home of Kilcoe Studios is based in Kilcoe near Skibbereen, Co Cork, but Kilcoe Studios also now has an office and workshop space in Ballydehob, Co Cork.
Kilcoe Studios began as a small home business in 2012. It was a way to support the other craft and artistic work that took place at the Studios. Sonia also works as a sculptor and as part of her artistic practice she takes inspiration from what is around her. Many years ago she started doing watercolour studies of plants as she was especially drawn to their sculptural shapes.
Over time the depth of our plant world became more and more fascinating to her. Now Kilcoe Studios depicts the extensive range of native Irish plants and trees and not only shares the beautiful watercolour images in the products but also shares wonderful facts and information from our heritage and folklore.
The annual calendar gives Sonia the chance to really study and learn about more plants in different habitats. The research that is done for the Calendar looks into the cultural use of these plants in both the present and the past. View The Kilcoe Studios Calendar Here
Craft and heritage
Sonia has been carving stone for sculpture since about 2006 and has also had a long interest in all forms of craft. She has been able to share some of her other basic skills in schools through various projects as well as the crafts council craft program and the Heritage in Schools scheme which she is still involved in http://www.heritageinschools.ie/
She is keen to preserve our heritage craft skills and encourage the use of local found materials to create both useful and beautiful objects.
Sonia has a strong interest in developing her use of the Irish language and she is actively learning at the moment to improve. The Irish language is integral to our knowledge of plants as well as being an integral part of our place names and many other aspects that link us to our heritage.
Kilcoe Studios aims to assist in broadening our knowledge of our Native Irish Plants. It also aims to explore ways of using some of these plants for artistic and craft purposes and to support other plant lovers already using them in food and medicine. It aims to work with the local community and be a part of a network of small local businesses working sustainably as part of a strong local-based economy.
I have also borrowed this mission statement from the Dun Emer Guild of 1902 that also supports some of our aims, however, unfortunately in this current time, Irish-made paper and linen are not available as they were back then .
‘The idea is to make beautiful things; this, of course, means materials honest and true and the application of them with deftness of hand, the brightness of colour, and cleverness of design. Everything, as far as possible, is Irish; the paper of the books, the linen of the embroidery, and the wool of the tapestry or carpet. The designs are also in the spirit and tradition of the country.