Cork’s small towns are feeling lively again.
And if giving up city life in favour of a cosy village by the sea is something you dream about on the commute, there’s another West Cork endeavour that might inspire your ambitions.
In Bantry, two designers have opened a drawing studio set behind a lovely old shopfront in the centre of town.
The Work Shop drawing space is run by designers Tara Kennedy, an architect, and Mark Wickham an illustrator and designer.
“We have been sharing a studio space for a few years but working completely independently of each other, just sharing a room,” Tara told Yay Cork.
“When we were dreaming about what our new workspace would be when we moved to Bantry we began to talk about how we could do more than just share a space, we could run something together that had a wider ambition, and a drawing studio was the natural answer!”
Mark has worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator for over 20 years and teaches an illustration module at the National College for Art and Design. He’s also had three picture books published, and through that has facilitated numerous drawing workshops and various book festivals and events.
Tara has a background in collaborative art and architecture projects. For the past 10 years, she has been working as an architect with an award-winning small practice as well as teaching at Cork Centre for Architectural Education, alongside independent creative consultancy and design projects.
“We have family connections to Bantry and Cork, a big love of the sea and a definite desire to live and work in a small town. It took a while to make the move but we finally moved from Dublin in July of 2023.”
Setting up shop
“We had talked about working out of a shop in the town centre for as long as we had been planning our move. We really liked the idea of being visible in town doing design work, and being part of the comings and goings of town.
“We had been eyeing up the Work Shop premises for a while on visits to Bantry and thought it had amazing potential, lovely big shopfront windows as well as interesting art deco architectural features. So we finally bit the bullet and made enquiries!”
Renovations were minimal and soon Work Shop was welcoming its first creatives: “We added built-in desks along the walls, and then the drawing desks and tables for larger workshops are all moveable and adjustable to suit various events.
“We love sitting inside the big windows working and watching passers-by as well as adding and changing things in our (quite random) window displays.”
The core plan is to foster and support interest in drawing among children and adults in Bantry, while also having a space where the design duo can open up conversations about the other design projects and work that they do.
“It’s been hectic, but getting Work Shop up and running so quickly has given us great feedback on how the space suits the workshops and that it also has a really lovely atmosphere to work in.” adds Tara.
“Hopefully, everyone who comes along to one of the workshops feels the same.”
Upcoming events at Work Shop Bantry include a Mask-Making workshop in February, a weekend animation workshop and some special animal-themed workshops as well as a drawing course for teenagers.
You can find out more here.