Secret Garden opens in Derry’s craft village on Saturday

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion at the launch of "Secret Garden" Outdoor Exhibition, with, on left, Helen Quigley, Craft Village manager, and, from right, Deirdre Harte, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Suzanne Woods, curator and felt artist. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion at the launch of "Secret Garden" Outdoor Exhibition, with, on left, Helen Quigley, Craft Village manager, and, from right, Deirdre Harte, Derry City and Strabane District Council, and Suzanne Woods, curator and felt artist. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

A magical outdoor exhibition transforming Derry’s Craft Village into a hand-crafted Secret Garden bursting with creativity, will be unveiled at a special Open Day garden party on Saturday, May 30th from 1pm to 4pm – and absolutely everyone is invited!

Supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Craft Development Programme -­ funded by Invest NI and the European Regional Development Fund - and the Inner City Trust, the Secret Garden is the first in a series of ‘Craft in the City’ events organised by Council to kickstart summer on the banks of the Foyle.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion unlocks the key to the Secret Garden outdoor exhibition that is taking place as part of Council's Craft Month in the Craft Village.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Elisha McCallion unlocks the key to the Secret Garden outdoor exhibition that is taking place as part of Council's Craft Month in the Craft Village.

Encouraging locals and visitors alike to see how the Secret Garden grows, the Mayor, Councillor Elisha McCallion said people would be mesmerised by the installation which features silk lanterns, a wire ‘wish tree’, flocks of birds flying overhead, butterflies, non-scary spiders, large felt flowers and unexpected knitted creations.

Mayor McCallion said: “The Secret Garden is a really novel way of showcasing the talent, skills and imagination of our vibrant local craft sector and, it will no doubt inspire the next generation of crafters, artists and designers in the city and district.”

Deirdre Harte, Craft Development Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “People from all backgrounds have been contributing to the blooming of the Secret Garden exhibition using a range of craft disciplines and techniques at specialised workshops delivered by experienced crafters and artists.

“The exhibition is an imaginative approach to bringing to life the skills and creativity of our local craft sector who continue to rise to the challenge. People will also have an opportunity to participate in a series of free taster workshops taking place during the Open Day on Saturday, May 30th.”

According to Suzanne Woods, artist and curator of the Secret Garden, the exhibition “will be stunning and a not-to-be missed experience”, which will remain in place through the summer.

She said: “I am very grateful to the artists as they have responded so enthusiastically. Karen O’Kane created eleven silk paintings to make into 60 lanterns that will illuminate the archways into the Craft Village. Naomi Fleury has created numerous white cranes which will ‘fly’ under the canopy.

“Kevin McGrellis has reclaimed a dead roadside tree by wrapping it in copper wire. His workshop participants have made leaves, flowers and ornaments to bring the tree to life. I have made huge foxgloves and morning glory, with the invaluable assistance of participants in my advanced felting workshops”.

“Adults, families, children will all find something to see and do. A number of events will be held simultaneously - origami, silk-painting, writing with wire and extreme knitting! Children can decorate and plant up a flowerpot to take home. The Verbal Arts Centre will be leading ‘Reading Room’ activities for children – and there will be cake. The exhibition will remain in place through the summer for people to enjoy as long as possible.”

Free Workshops

The free workshops taking place at the Secret Garden Open Day are as follows:

·Silk Lanterns with Karen O’Kane - Create a beautiful silk painting and turn it into a lantern.

·Origami with Naomi Fleury - Learn the beautiful art of folding paper to make something special.

·Decorative Wire Work with Kevin McGrellis - Learn wire techniques to make decorations for the ‘Wire Wish Tree’.

·Extreme Knitting with Edel MacBride - Knitting on a very large scale.

·Decorate and Plant a Flower Pot with Arlene Devine - Make something lovely for your own Secret Garden.

Children’s Storytelling

‘Secret Garden’ storytelling by the Verbal Arts Centre ‘Reading Rooms’ 1-2pm and 2-3pm (up to 7/8 years) and 3-4pm (7-12 years).