Made In Guernsey

My Livingroom

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Hand Made in Guernsey

Producing charming handmade prints of Guernsey from her studio just out of St Peter Port, the work of Iris and Dora seems to be popping up all over the island at the moment.

Behind the art is Denyse McGahy, who spoke to us about how the island we live on inspires her and her work.

"Myself and a friend started Iris and Dora from kitchen table, and named it after our children. The inspiration behind the art itself is the island we live on, and our first design was the map of Guernsey. I particularly like working with paper in lots of ways including paper cutting, so it was inevitable that we were going to end up doing paper-cutting scenes of Guernsey, which is predominantly what I produce now."

"I just think it's such an inspiring place to live. When you're sitting in traffic driving along Les Banques, it's easy to take for granted that gorgeous view of the islands, and it's not until you live somewhere else that you come to appreciate the beauty all around us, the seashore and the diversity that we have here; we're all very lucky." 

Having started from humble beginnings, Iris & Dora has grown into a new location where the operation is running more effectively than ever. Denyse explains; "We moved to a very small studio upstairs at Rex Stationers, which was great, and we were very lucky that we were able to find a studio as they're very hard to find in Guernsey." 

 

However, the new space did have drawbacks. "We found that we had a lot of customers coming directly to us, which in a messy old studio was a bit difficult. Plus, we were trashing our pieces all the time, moving things with inky fingers meant that work would get ruined."

"We quickly realised we needed a showroom space, or somewhere to keep the things that we were producing, so we rented a small room downstairs which suddenly turned into a shop! I later expanded the shop to take over most of the ground floor of the building, and also moved the studio downstairs so I have a larger and better-equipped studio now - it's all been expanding."

"There are two goats here, a rooster, rabbits in the summer and a little cat that visits, and I'm only two minutes away from town. This is exactly where I want to be!" 

Another key component of the Iris and Dora offering is the wide variety of workshops that Denyse runs at her studio. "The most popular one I do is printing parties, where kids get to come along and design then print their own t-shirts or bags, so every child gets to take something home that they've made themselves." 

"I do baby showers, which are very popular at the moment. I also do hen parties; a group of friends can bring drinks with them, we do an afternoon of printing and they make something for themselves, they have a lot of fun and then inevitably teeter off into town to make cocktails or have a meal! We're perfectly situated for that."

"I do team building and corporate workshops too, and couples printing sessions; I especially around Valentine's Day. You can give them the gift of a workshop, or you can come together. I also do an introduction to screen printing for small groups, and once you've done that course you can come and use our studio, tables and equipment to print yourself." 

Looking ahead, Denyse has ambitions not only for her own business, but for Guernsey's creative scene as a whole. She explains, "I want to have a bit more of space for other creatives to be able to come and work, so it becomes a bit of a community hub. That's where I'm trying to get the business to go now, trying to find a property that can accommodate a few more creatives, and get a little bit of an artistic community together."

"Lots of students go away to do fine art, then come back and work in finance, but they've still got all their supplies squirreled away and they can't really do it anymore. Over here we're really lacking in accessible, creative drop-in space, and that's what I'm trying to find. There are a couple of models that work, one in Jersey actually, and I'd like to bring that here." 

As well as helping to cultivate the local artist community, Denyse also aims to support the island that inspires her work as much as possible, and urges Guernsey residents to do the same.

"I'm a big supporter of buying local. Everything you buy from me is made here; anything I can't do myself is done by local printers and suppliers as far as possible even though it's cheaper to buy them from China or elsewhere. If you buy from me, you buy from local companies and you're supporting a lot of local people." 

For more information about Iris and Dora, visit irisanddora.co.uk.

Iris and Dora

www.irisanddora.co.uk 07781 464 586 [email protected]

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