Having met Darren Fitzpatrick at a few BOS conventions, we hit it off really well and struck up an online exchange of ideas. I’ve felt for years that Ireland ought to have enough enthusiastic folders to support a group of some kind and Darren agreed. We decided to plan an inaugural event to try and kick-start IrishOrigami. I set up a wordpress website and bought a suitable domain and the planning began.
Darren had a great contact in Alexa MacDermot, who runs the White Lady Art project in the centre of Dublin. She displays and sells a range of exciting, modern artwork and had space that we could use for our gathering. Darren used his list of local media contacts to build publicity, including a radio interview and local web publicity.
Through a new Facebook page we made contact with several other Irish folders, including the talented folder (and excellent wildlife photographer) Tom Cuffe from Galway and Michaela Bertsch form Arklow, who both offered their time and talent for the meeting, entitled “The Origami Gathering” (to tie in with a “gathering” taking place in the city).
A flight from Birmingham was booked (which cost less than the train journey from Sheffield to Birmingham!) and our plans were complete. I arrived on the Thursday and spent a day or so with an amazing folder from nearby Skerries called Paddy Wolffe and her amiable son, Harvey. At 85, she belies her years with an active lifestyle and has endless enthusiasm for the subject. She drove me on a guided tour of the countryside and I spend several happy hours looking for crabs in rock pools at the harbour.
Saturday soon arrived and I caught the train into Dublin centre to meet Darren. We checked out a few music shops (like me, Darren is into music technology and gigs as an improvising DJ) and strolled through the sunny streets to the Gallery, on the banks of the river Liffey. Alexa was ready for us and we arranged the teaching area so people had somewhere to sit and tables to fold on.
We were panicking slightly about the total lack of exciting exhibits to display (I flew ryanair and so had to travel light) but enter stage left Tom Cuffe, with several boxes of amazing modular and other work – problem solved! It’s impossible to over-estimate the impact on passers-by of stunning origami models and his collection certainly did the trick – a highlight was a fractal cube using over 3000 sheets of paper!
Some people had pre-booked tickets over the web and by the time 2pm arrived, we had twenty or so keen folders. Several others popped in and out during the afternoon. Tom, Darren and I took it in turns to teach, mostly simple designs with the odd more challenging fold to show what could be achieved. We used paper kindly supplied by the BOS, along with A4 paper, producing cups, boxes, basketball hoops, flowers, hearts, flappers and much more.
Amongst the attendees was the ebullient Batman O’Brien (yes, that was his name, changed by deed pool!) who surely will be a live-wire in the fledgling group. Paddy came in from Skerries. Michaela brought a selection of beautiful framed designs that she was selling. Jaudy Martinez brought her partner and succeeded with every fold that was taught. Apologies to those whose names I have forgotten!
The closing time of 6pm came round all too soon, and after farewells, Darren took me to a wonderful nearby pub, where a pint or two of weissbier was drunk (shamefully, I don’t like Guiness!) and we had a mellow de-briefing of the afternoon. The conclusion was that the event had been a great success. Our intention was to gather folding folk together, exchange contact details and build some enthusiasm to take it forward. We agreed there was no point in trying to start a formal society, with all the associated administration and formality, but to try and have regular meetings and let the group grow it it’s own pace.
We’ve added photos on the website and some diagrams of models taught for people to download. Feedback via email and on facebook has been hugely positive and as well as small meetings, there was some talk of a larger event, perhaps in the Galway area. I shall certainly make the effort to attend that, if and when it comes to pass!
Thanks to everyone who came and especially to Darren, who remains positive despite struggling to find work – 14% of Dubliners are unemployed. He spends huge amounts of his free time helping a local community TV station – we went to help at a yachting race for disabled youngsters on the Sunday). We talked for hours and I feel a real kinship with him.