The Importance of Hope

Paula’s work on display in the Fair-Play Cafe;

Paula Moen

My name is Paula Moen. I live in Ringsend and for as long as I can remember I have always loved the idea of vintage – from home furnishings to fashion. It is sustainable and often unique.

I like the idea there is a story behind every vintage piece, where did it come from? Who owned it? What is the back story?

I started collecting the plates about two years ago. I saw a tea set in one of the local charity shops in Ringsend. I absolutely loved the pattern, it was visibly old with these amazing quirky anomalies and I remember thinking to myself, I could do something really cool with these plates. The idea was firmly planted and I started to experiment any spare time I had. I got a few commissions to do portraits and…

Then Covid happened…

My typesetting projects reduced dramatically.

I had lots of gorgeous saucers which were too small for portraits etc so I decided to use text (using free fonts) and incorporate current phrases like ‘Wash your hands’, ‘Stay safe’, ‘Wear a mask’, etc. I posted them to Instagram and the response was amazing. I love the idea of using something old to mix with something new.

I then set up my online shop, and it has been going very well ever since.

I source all the plates from charity shops (NCBI and Oxfam in Ringsend in particular) and I have enlisted the help of friends in different areas to collect pieces for me. Each plate represents a nostalgic stamp of  time – incorporating the past with the present. Who remembers the ‘good’ room, and using the ‘good’ cups and saucers for when visitors called to the house?

These plates were once part of someone’s story… a wedding gift, an anniversary present, a new home, a new family, the beginnings of a new chapter in their life. I am upcycling these beautiful pieces by celebrating and remembering the times we are in… mixing the old with the new.

From current Covid19 phrases to kitchen themes, poems and quotes, personal anecdotes, humorous… the list is endless. The material is there…around us, in the news, in conversation. I’m constantly looking and listening!

When I design a plate, I add it to my online shop and I also post it to Instagram with a story or just information about the plate. This is where I mostly advertise the plates.

I used a quote by President Michael D Higgins on a plate and it was very soon a best seller.

The quote is:

“As long as you draw breath, stay curious and keep going.”

I decided to send him one for his 80th birthday and I received a very gracious thank you letter from him!

I have collaborated with a few local businesses as well. You can see a few of my plates in the Vintage Inn in Irishtown and more recently with Joe Donnelly in The Fair-Play café in Ringsend (see inset). Using the theme: ‘Relearning the forgotten language of HOPE’, we came up with an idea of creating a wall of plates, each one displaying a message of Hope.

Message from Joe Donnelly, Fair-Play Cafe:

“Throughout the course of Irish history, our ancestors had to face many seismic and unpredictable changes, especially through the trauma of wars, invasion, hunger, oppression, injustice, disease, and emigration. In the face of these overwhelming challenges we had to develop a patient and resilient story of hope. Along with this story, we had to develop a language of hope that wove itself around the big themes of our common human experience; an example of these themes would be that good would ultimately conquer evil…the darkness would not overwhelm the light, and that we would certainly see better days. Our recent experience with the coronavirus in Ireland has reminded us of the importance to relearn the often forgotten language of hope.”

‘Relearning the forgotten language of HOPE’ is on display in the Fair-Play Cafe and is to be a permanent fixture.

For more information on Paula’s plates go to:

Instagram @paulafmoen
Online shop: