BlackBoxBazaar4THE best in grass roots arts and crafts were on display at the Black Box in Belfast recently.

The Christmas craft fair, The Black Box Bazaar, provided a whole host of alternative, unique and one-off handmade and hand crafted Christmas gifts.

Organised by arts organisation Avalon Arts & Crafts on behalf of the Black Box the event seen over 25 stalls pack out the city centre theatre with everything from handmade jewellery, bags and crafts to original artwork, locally published books and other gift ideas from artisan sellers as well as vintage and pre-loved clothing and vinyl recordsCIARANCiaran McElhinney, Co-Founder of Avalon Arts & Crafts, said the event was an opportunity for shoppers to see the quality and high standard of crafts available in Northern Ireland at reasonable prices as well as browse collectible vinyl records and vintage clothing.

He added: “Recently we heard of Black Friday where large supermarket chains were encouraging people to panic buy at a discount and we seen customers support our local independent retailers at Small Business Saturday.

“Avalon Arts & Crafts are now asking people to support their local cottage industries, home-based businesses and artisan sellers.

“When the economy took a downturn many many people turned to the Make Do & Mend philosophy of the war era and the arts and crafts had a major resurgence.BlackBoxBazaar5“With that came a new and unique brand of local sellers and business people all creating from the comfort of their own home spaces.

“The Black Box Bazaar already had a fantastic reputation for being a bohemian mixture of alternative and unique crafts and sellers and now with even more stalls than before there was definitely something for everyone.

“So we are encouraging people who want to make their Christmas gifts a little special or who want to get their hands on a unique piece of clothing or jewellery to go online and buy from your local home retailers.

“This week Avalon Arts will be showcasing each of the stall holders who appeared at the event as well as many many more on our facebook page, it’s a great opportunity for people to do some Christmas shopping from the comfort of their own home.”

Organising and running the Black Box Bazaar is just one of the activities Avalon Arts & Crafts, set up in 2012, do within the arts community.

Ciaran explained: “Avalon Arts & Crafts is a not-for-profit social enterprise company set up to support grass roots arts & crafts and help explore and develop creative talents.

“We work with artists, crafters, musicians, writers and performers looking at everything from publicity and marketing to product sourcing and other services.

“We also work with the public to provide art development classes and workshops using a range of different creative mediums to work. We work with all groups of people young and old as well as disenfranchised youths, the elderly, low income families, single parents and people with disability to working with cultural and racial minorities.

As part of the event local acoustic band Chasing Perpetua took to the stage to entertain the crowds as well as Ciaran himself who is a well known and accomplished local singer songwriter.
Ciaran said he plans to support many new emerging artists throughout 2014 with Avalon Arts.

He added: “This is just one of the platforms we like to make available for people who want to work on their stage craft. It is an excellent way to guage public opinion and try out new material.”

The Black Box Bazaar which takes place in The Black Box, Hill Street Belfast will return in the new year with a Valentines event, date to be confirmed.

For more information log onto facebook.com/avalonartsbelfast.