Our Story - an artist led collaboration bringing you some of the best Fine Art and Contemporary crafts from Northern Ireland
Welcome to the Puffin Gallery, an artist run gallery of fine art and contemporary crafts, based in Ballycastle, a seaside town on the Causeway Coast.
The gallery is the brain child of Brigitte Le Boulleur whose passion for the arts has been her main motivation. We believe that Northern Ireland creative sector has a lot to offer and want to play an active part in promoting it.
Northern Ireland has a vibrant creative community and we are keen to hear about both emerging and established talented artists who would like to show their work in the gallery. As artists ourselves, we understand the creative sector workers and strive to promote their work and support their business.
Being passionate about the arts, also means promoting creativity in the community. In the past we have organised community activities (classes, knitting clubs, yarn bombing of Ballycastle) and once things have settled a little bit with Covid, we hope to continue with these activities and organise even more events!
This website only shows you a glimpse of what is available in the gallery, so please feel free to contact us to arrange for a virtual visit (using video conferencing facilities).
Because we care about you and us, we are keeping social distancing rules within the gallery, supplying hand sanitising facilities, cleaning touch areas on a regular basis and we kindly remind you that the wearing of the mask inside the shop is a legal requirement (except for exempt people).
My Journey ... So Far!
Hello, if you were in my jewellery studio, or our art gallery in beautiful Ballycastle by the sea, we would share a bit of craic over a pot of tea. Instead, here’s a wee read about how I went from sleeping in a drawer to designing for royalty.
Back then though, the new Altnagelvin hospital’s maternity ward ran out of cots on my arrival, and I spent my first nights tucked up in a drawer!
|Growing up through Northern Ireland’s Troubles, 40 years of extreme civil unrest, I recognise that developing my creativity offered a means to escape the stresses of life. At 15 I was immersed in painting close wildlife studies in gouache and watercolour, detailing each feather and tuft of fur.|
Painting taught me the attention to detail I transferred to jewellery when I undertook my apprenticeship with a Hatton trained jeweller in Coleraine, aged 17.
I can still remember my pride in that first, simple silver Star of David!
Since that I must have worked on, made or designed over 100,000 pieces of jewellery, honing my work skills and cutting my design teeth. I graduated from the University of Ulster in Contemporary and Applied Arts in 2014, with renewed excitement for designing and I’m keeping my sights on the next 100,000 pieces!
I married Brigitte, a jeweller’s daughter from the south of France, in 1998. We started the business in 1999 and, with Brigitte’s steadfast support, I have been designing, producing and trading ever since as “Causeway Jewellery Creations”, “Robert Spotten, Fine Designs” and now to highlight that we are a partnership, “Spottens”, working in sterling silver, gold, platinum and palladium.
In 2020 I was talked into holding my first art exhibition since 1983, exhibiting as a wildlife artist in the Puffin Gallery, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland.
|In the 40 years of making jewellery, one of my most challenging and exciting commission is the exact replica of HMS Caroline as a memento to the staff shortly after its de-commissioning. The piece took months to make and prepare, it measures around 35cm long. I used the actual ship plans and researched old photographic records to include all the necessary details.|
My Inspiration comes from the local environment, water, nature, Space and Celtic symbolism.
|Living by the beautiful Causeway Coast, I walk its long, sandy surf beaches, ancient forests and prehistoric sites, feeling pretty small in that rugged scenery under huge, ever-changing skies. Walks in these places inspired my "local scenery" collection which incorporates ancient, traditional Celtic symbols.|
The concept of water inspired another collection. Scarcity of drinking water formed the theme for my degree work and continues to find its way into my designs. You will find patterns made by sand, rippling under wave action, and shapes made by streaming rivers, echoed in my jewellery.
The 1969 Moon landing awakened a boyhood fascination for Space, and some of my work is inspired by planetary interaction, and views of Earth from Space.
Brigitte Le Boulleur
A long way from home...
Hello and welcome to our website. Please call me Brigitte and let me tell you a bit about myself.
Born in Perpignan, a daughter and grand daughter of jewellers, I am afraid I did what my mother advised me not to do and married a jeweller too! and I must say I have no regrets! Both Robert and I are creative people although we work very differently. When Robert starts creating, he has the end image of what he wants to produce in mind. My creativity is instictive and an emotional response to both the subject and the material. I enjoy the process and let myself work towards a final outcome which is an expression of my feelings and ideas.
My inspiration comes from life experiences, motherhood and my surroundings.
My work is based on particular themes which I explore through different media: textiles, ceramics, glass, paint, printing or jewellery (I design the jewellery and Robert helps me make it).
I left France aged 17 and graduated at Trinity College with a BA Hons in English and French, I continued my career in economic and community development whilst completing a Masters in Business Administration part-time at the University of Ulster.
I have always worked hard but my passion has always been the arts, as a child, I loved doing portraits and making figure sculptures in clay. In 2014, I obtained a University of Ulster Associate Degree in Fine and Applied arts.
My origins can be seen in my art as I love using strong colours (my region was the origin of the birth of Fauvism). I embrace new technologies and design patterns and jewellery using specialist software.
Finally, I manage the Puffin Gallery - including the website - and do all the administration for the whole business. I must say I do struggle with Social Media so please be understanding if I do not post as often as I should, you are welcome to contact me for any commissions by any artists featured on our website or for purchasing an item that is not yet on the website, we can arrange a virtual tour of the gallery and you can pick your work of art directly.
Contact us for any queries, we look forward to speaking to you!