Blog:

Meet the Maker- Annika Berglund.

Critters for Phoenix Park
  • The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc

The hat I have entered for the exhibition was my first idea for this theme. It is titled “Still here?” It is modelled from a photo I took on a trip to Costa Rica last year with my 12 year old daughter. The sheer exuberance of life in that tropical country amazed us, but we were constantly aware that this fantastic eco system is fragile and needs to be protected.

My second piece, “In Danger, Who?” is very much inspired by the pandemic. In the middle of March my daughter had had a cough and a high fever so we stayed totally isolated for a couple of weeks. That surreal sense of isolation together with the constant array of images of the virus, spherical, spiky and ominous, seemed to demand an artistic response. It was slow going, making all those spikes for the three viruses, but it seemed to lessen my sense of anxiety and help me to summon up the patience to follow the guidelines and carry on.

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult?

I thought I would have all the time in the world to do stuff being confined to the house for months during Covid-19. My house is not at all as clean and tidy as I had envisioned, but I have found time for a lot of making. Just before the pandemic, I was gifted a few sacks of raw wool, and just had time to do a spinning course before the lock down. The cleaning and drying of wool, learning the rudiments of using plants to dye it and then carding and spinning gave me a sense of connection to the past. It also gave me a sense of self-reliance. even if I did not really expect that the pandemic would make a home spun economy necessary. Still, I also planted potatoes 😊.

My usual materials for making are ceramics, glass and bronze. However, I found the indoor pursuits of felting, spinning and other textile pursuits worked better for me during the lockdown as I could spend more time in the house together with my daughter.

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you

As I mentioned, I usually work with glass, bronze and ceramics. These are materials I really enjoy working with but they are probably the most energy hungry art forms imaginable. The problem this posed for me came to a head for me when I participated in an exhibition about global warming 2 years ago. I was very happy with the visual aspect of my pieces that were made using all three materials, but could not stop feeling a bit hypocritical thinking of the energy cost of making them.

In November last year I attended a number of workshops at the knitting and stitching show. I really enjoyed the felting workshop I attended and joined Feltmakers Ireland as soon as I could. Since then I have been focusing on wool, recycled textiles and stitching. Working with wool somehow gives me a feeling of stronger and more direct connection to human history and traditions. 

Website

 www.annikaberglund.com

On Instagram I am Berglund69.

Meet the Maker- Ramona Farrelly

Ramona Farrelly Endangered Exhibition

When faced with the question endangered, my thoughts immediately turned to the sea and the life that exists within it. It’s a place that can easily be forgotten, as life under the surface may not be immediately visible unless one seeks it out. 


It was a by now famous image made by photographer Justin Hofman for National Geographic, in which a seahorse swam holding on to a discarded cotton bud, that highlighted to the world the issues of pollution in our oceans. This image has stuck in my mind ever since and it became the inspiration for this piece. 
I wanted to convey the beauty of the sea whilst still showing that there was an issue.  I went through various ideas of trying to represent the pollution but in the end decided to keep the beauty visible and show that life in the sea is hanging precariously in the balance by using the cotton buds to hang and connect the pieces together. 


I wet felted the pieces using the cracked mud technique and folded the upper sections under to represent ocean shelves. I then stitched in various forms of sea life from plants to fish to populate the piece. After consideration I left the edges of the three sections of the piece feathery so as to seem watery and with less of a defined edge.


I enjoyed the challenge in making the piece even though I’m quite new to felting and have a lot to learn. The current crisis has allowed me more time to pursue some of my passions at home so in one way it has been a blessing. It has allowed me to slow down and consider more what I would like to do with my craft in all its various forms and I’ve enjoyed being able to take the time to do so. I’ve always loved working with wool and felting is another aspect of it that I am looking forward to exploring in greater detail over the coming years.  
Ramona Farrelly joined feltmakers Ireland only last year. Thank you for being brave enough to enter your work in the exhibition. On the day we hung the exhibit, committee member Maria McGivern photographed some pieces outside. This piece looked beautiful, swaying in the breeze.

Meet the Maker- Sinead Doyle

Sinead joined the committee last year and took up the position of secretary. Our guild is run by volunteers like Sinead, committed to the craft but also spreading the word, promoting felt, teaching and helping to run an organisation. We asked her the same three questions about her submissions to the “Endangered” Exhibition, which is currently running the Pheonix Park visitor centre.

pop art inspired art by Sinead Doyle

The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etcMy piece of art depicts the effect social distancing has had on our mental health. Physically connecting is essential for a healthy mental state, however this is the one thing we cannot do for a healthy physical state. The inspiration came early in the lockdown when virtual hangouts were the only way to socialize with friends. The noisy voices chatting and laughing in a room only I was in really played on my mind. I hope to have captured how we have all been feeling. Alone together.I used prefelt to create this popart poster, cutting out each element and piecing it together like a jigsaw before wetfelting it. I then needlefelted in the details and embellished it with some stencilling using fabric paint. Finally I embroidered the lettering.


Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss
 I actually really enjoyed being hunkered down with my little family. Being unable to leave the house was strangely liberating. On the downside, it became increasing difficult to find some creative time for myself. The only way I could carve out some time to create was to involve my children, that didn’t always go as planned but I found I was relaxed and happy to play and explore feltmaking, and other crafts, with them. It’s important to create without an agenda and a child’s eye is always a great reminder of that.
Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
I honestly can’t remember how I discovered feltmaking. I did teach myself wetfelting first about 9 years ago through the university of youtube. Then I moved into needlefelting, which I gravitated towards for a long time. It’s only in the last few years my wetfelting passion has been reignited, and this is totally thanks to the wonderful community Feltmakers Ireland has created. I took their basic and beyond course and started attending every Sunday session. I couldn’t believe the wealth of knowledge everyone was willing to share with me. I have been so focused and creative since joining and I’m inspired every day by all the amazing women I have met through Feltmakers Ireland.

Here is another piece of Sineads wonderful work- the Green man. A needle felted piece.

Thanks to Sinead both for her submissions and for her continued voluntary work as part of Feltmakers Ireland

Meet the Maker- Niki Collier

The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc


The sculptures are the culmination of a conversation in wool which started for myself a decade ago.
Today I witness with overwhelming sadness that ”my viruses” have brought the whole world to a standstill in 2020.
The dichotomy between function and form in viruses is commonly an immediate reflection on their existence measured to our own.
You would see it in the narrative of artists who are just starting on their journey with microorganisms as a result of current realities.
Humans have the weakness to put ourselves in the centre of the universe rather than grasping the idea that more often than not we are part of it.
And more often than not we are threat to every living organism – including our own kind.
A virus veteran myself I study the impact of viruses on a personal and global level.
The work has been a mechanism to explore humanity, how we operate in a crisis and how we process the impact of trauma within our relationships and our belief system.
The lessons I have learned are of growth, hope and kindness.
I strive to share this experience through my practice.

The choice of Common Cold and Corona are not random.
Common cold is probably the most resilient virus and arguably one of the older organisms in the species.
It evolves and our bodies do as a result of it.
This strain of Corona is registered during this millennium and is presenting us with the challenge to evolve and work together outside our comfort.
Are we going to live up to the challenge and live to tell the tale?

I believe constructive textiles allow the privilege to embody materials which authenticate the experience.
I use this in making my work.
The Two pieces are constructed by a crust and a core. The crust is a combination of animal and plant-based fibres which communicates the spread of the virus and the impact it has on our bodies. The respiratory spread is embodied in undyed wool to emulate sensory experience. The fearmongering of geographical containment is communicated by silk and Italian fibres. The core is a combination of rubbish created during the pandemic which has been covered in wool to develop felt.

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss

I do not sneak in time to craft – I do craft as a core of who I am, both through my full time practice and in my life.
What I did as soon as we were in lockdown was to donate classes, felting kits and tools and products.
I was lucky to get a big commission to develop online teaching content for Cruimnniu na nOg- a project commissioned by Creative Ireland, RTE and Art Council.

https://youtu.be/nFKZC2AZxYE

Meanwhile I found it a special time to become part of international artist led tutorials which connected me with artist from all over the world.

I tried to use the time as a resource to do my bit- I donated materials and classes. After all who knows better the joy of receiving a craft packet in your mailbox?
My family was somehow more roped into craft. My girl was on light duty for 30 days with the 5 feet felt moon we lit every night on our roof. 
I used the time to give time to others.I would like to use this opportunity to remind every member of Feltmakers Ireland that they could have 20% off niki&nikifelting tools, craft kits and classes through my website, just say you are a Feltmaker Ireland member.

It also gave me more time to develop my pieces and apply to opportunities that I sometimes miss. I was humbled to have three pieces accepted into Kaleidoscope- 
International Felt makers Association exhibition of contemporary felt art. 


Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
I discovered felt through an idea for a lampshade. 
Felt came to me to save me from my failures.
For almost six months I tried various materials and ideas to make the light as it was in my head.
It wasn’t till I was shown the process of felting that I knew – That was it!
I am delighted that it was mutual love as the craft community has given me some of the most illuminating experiences. So for me it means hope and love.
Each happening in my practice has been a gift. From solo exhibition in Shanghai to being part of international exhibition in National Design and Craft Gallery Kilkenny each steps is a privilege. The way I see it I engage with folk who loves craft and art. Whether I teach in corporate setting like Facebook, or a group of underprivileged girls in a small village in Bulgaria it has always been just a way to create meaningful experiences for others.Currently I am working on residency with University of Atypical as part of Craft Month Northern Ireland.
My big joy is my solo show Viruses Nov-Jan University of Atypical which would include the pieces from Endangered. First art residence by invitation.

I would like to thank Feltmakers Ireland for the opportunity and all the hard work they have put in putting this exhibition together.

Niki Collier Visual Artist
website: https://www.nikicollier.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nikicollierfelt/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nikicollierdesign/?hl=en

You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpnfyH6gqus5hK5nSyhIK8Q

Twitter: https://twitter.com/nikicollierdes

Niki Collier, PhD
Visual Artist

m:0876615066
herself@nikicollier.com
www.nikicollier.com

Studio 24
The Courtyard
Marlay Park
Dublin 16

Meet the Maker- Astrid Tomrop-Hofmann

Feltmakers Ireland asked long time member Astrid about her inspiration for the Exhibition title ” Endangered”.

My Secret Garden- I was deeply impressed by my grandparents’ garden. The memory of colourful things and strange shapes, fascinated me!My inspiration of nature and textile are influenced from those sources. The materials are telling stories about life, people with their feelings, dreams, wishes, thoughts and sadness. I looked for a way to incorporate this memory into my felt making work.I chose wet felting technique with different materials who elaborated in this wall-piece. My intention is to invite the viewer to touch and investigate my piece of memory!


The second piece ” Light like a Feather, but can’t Fly ” , is supposed to inspire earth care and respect for the environment as well  as to create awareness and encourage taking responsibility for our environment ! This particular piece commemorates the oil disaster of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. 


What has it been like crafting through the current crisis?


In this challenging time, I try to get a different aspect to managing  my daily routine. Suddenly, I had more time, in one way, I was excited to have time working on pieces there laying in boxes waiting to be finished.Also to do some experimental work, exploring new ways and new materials.

How and when did you discover felt?


Through a friend I was introduced to felting in 2002. I learned how to work with different  types of wool, researget  new techniques and materials.I was overwhelmed, amazed and fascinated about using wool to shape my ideas. There a endless possibilities and I`m delighted to keep this exciting ancient craft alive. I aim to make unique hand-felted surfaces!  

bombyxMORI
Astrid Tomrop-Hofmann

Tel: +353909749467
facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bombyx-MORI-Felt-Silk-Art/244852902244486
website: bombyxmorifeltsilk.weebly.com

Meet the Maker- Veronica Santorum

Over the course of this month at next we are running a series of interviews showing the work of those applicants who submitted a piece to our exhbition currently showing at the Vsitor Centre in Phoenix Park Dublin.

The Exhibtion title is “Endangered”. 2020 has been a very different year for many of us. We decided to run this online version of the exhibition in order that all our members have access to see this inspirational work, especially those that may not be able to make it along to the physical show. Part of the constitution of Feltmakers Ireland is to promote and encourage the craft and members. We support #madelocal, perhaps think about this national campaign over the coming month and choose to spend money on local crafts and arts to support the industry.

We asked Veronica the same three questions about her work.

 The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods.

My artwork is a response to what I have seen on farms. I have tried to capture the moment in time when grass fields are “burnt off” with weedkiller before reseeding. This process destroys wildflowers and insects and eliminates wildlife that depends on them. Old pastures and species-rich meadows aer converted to monocultures of perennial rye grass. Disingenuously, the new fields look lush green and the underlying damage is disguised. I captured this period of ‘agricultural improvement’ and the damage done using the image of a green wave swallowing and casting aside species in disarray amidst a scarred and bleeding ‘burned off’ earth. Saturated colours were used to represent the luxuriant abundance of the Irish landscape and its inundation with fertiliser. My inspiration was Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. It was the high energy and macabre atmosphere rather than the physical images that informed my work.

I created a wet-felted piece using blended Irish wools including Galway, Zwartable, Alpaca, Blue-faced Leicester and Jacobs, which I processed from raw fleece. Some I used undyed and others were dyed with acid dyes. The reason I combined the wools was to create varied texture which for me represented the diversity of species and textures of grasses being lost from old grasslands and to intensify colours so that the soil was not just ‘brown’ but a rich, fertile loam for example and the reds look truly fleshy and bloody. The bones were ones I found and cleaned and stitched on to the felt. They represent the species lost, field by field, to the onslaught. I arranged them to look as if they had been carelessly discarded on a rubbish heap as I want to capture a ‘who cares anyway’ attitude. The bones also introduced a hardness to the piece, contrasting nicely with the soft wool and, for me, evoking fossils of lost species. The green merino and  silk nuno-felt were dyed and made to be smooth and uniform to mimic the  homogeneity of the new reseeded lands. I stitched into the nuno-felt to shape it like a wave sweeping over the land and also like a rolling landscape.

Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss

I have found it easier to focus on crafting and to getting projects completed during the pandemic. I have tried a few online workshops for the first time and been introduced to some new ideas and techniques. I treated myself to some extra art supplies to get me through the lockdown.

Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you.

I properly discovered felt through the Kilfinane Art, Craft and Traditional Skills group which I am a member of. About 2 years ago, the group decided to learn how to process a raw fleece and before we knew it we were spinning, dyeing, felting and weaving. I fell in love with felting when I wet felted alpaca wool for the first time and saw the patterns made by the very long fibres. Each new piece I make teaches me something and I appreciate the potential of felt more with every project. I have been inspired by Feltmakers Ireland’s exhibitions which have shown me how far you can go with this medium. I love what you can do with felt in terms of colour, texture and form. The fact that it is a natural material, that when it is no longer wanted it can simply be composted, makes it one of the best art materials around for me.

Meet the maker- Marie Dunne

Interview with Marie Dunne.

Tell us about your entry to the “Endangered Exhibition”?

I love all textiles and have been sewing all my life. I came across Contemporary textiles at the Knitting and Stitching Show in the Rds in 2006 and ever since I have been hooked.

Has your textile practice helped through the Pandemic Crisis?

My textile work really helped me through this crisis . In the initial stages I started projects  and most of them got left in corners around the house. Then I booked 2 online courses with Bobby Brittnell, an English textile artist.  They cost 20 pounds each. One was for 6 weeks the other 5 weeks. First one was called Inspired by Ben Nicholson, an artist that was known for his abstract painting and his White Relief Blocks. The course required you to make some  relief blocks and then print on paper or fabric. As I love printing I really enjoyed this course.

“Inspired by line and Tone” was the name of the second course. I really enjoyed this course too  and came across other artists I never heard of.  I found both courses really inspiring and found you could do your own interpretation of them. I highly recommend them to anyone  who likes to paint, print or draw.

I have also been developing my felt sculpture figures  with which I have been struggling with  for quite some time to get the results I want. They are now coming along nicely.

When did you discover Felt Making?

I discovered felting at the Knit and Stitching Show in the Rds. I sat in on a learning curve class and made a flower. I still have that flower..I came across felting some years later and decided to join Feltmakers Ireland..I have now  been felting for about 14 years  and  I am still amazed at how versatile it is. There are so many different types of  wools to discover and the beautiful colors to inspire you. I find felting  calming   and very relaxing.  I love the whole process of felt making and enjoy  learning new processes and developing new  techniques.

Thank you to Marie for her commitment to Feltmakers and lovely to again see another wonderful piece of work from her.

Meet the Maker- Carmen Garcia

We asked member Carmen Garcia since questions about her piece for the Endangered exhibition, entitled “The last trace”.

The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc

I chose the trace of the Hawksbill Turtle,  one of the many critically endangered species. First, because of the beautiful pattern it leaves in the sand, which I thought it would work well in felt. But also, because of the turtle being a symbol of slowness, a quality with negative connotations in our collective psyche. By using the slow process of felt making, this quality is celebrated. 


I used natural white and brown Icelandic wool for this project. I love using this wool in sculpture, especially if I need transparency, as I did in this case. I used flax fibers, Tussah silk tops and silk rods for texture. 


The idea was to create a basic bell structure. The turtle trace and other simple traces were sculpted in the structure using resistances and creating a finer more transparent mark to let the light through. 


Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found more or less time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss


I have crafted, but I haven’t felted much. 


I normally make hats, scarves and vessels that I sell online , in shops and at Gifted Craft Fair. But during the lockdown I felt I needed some distancing. Like many of us, I felt the need of re-assessing things. I had the pull to stop whatever it was that I was doing, and do something different.  I love stitching, so, I started an embroidery course, and it really felt right in that situation. Maybe it had to do with the way things were controlled in the small cloths amidst the uncontrollable situation around us.  But also, I enjoyed the repetition and its calming effects, I found it extremely therapeutic. It also provided new ways of looking at things and, who knows, maybe new directions. 


Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you


Like most things, by chance. I attended a Felt workshop at Phizzfest (Arts Festival in Phibsborough). I thought it was magic! 

I love the way it brings us back to basics. So little needed…fibers, soap, water. No equipment needed, just our hands , our bodies, with no separation from the piece. 

I also like the way we do not control it completely. Unintended things happen that can not be undone… and we have to work with that. Sometimes getting more than we expected and always learning from it. 

The slow pace of the process is also something I am attracted to. You can get faster… but to a certain point. 

It’s like a metaphor for life: it takes the time it takes, you are where you are, and that’s fine.


http://www.carmengarcia.ie

http://www.carmengarcia.ie

carmengarciadesign@gmail.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carmengarciadesign

instagram: https://www.instagram.com




http://www.carmengarcia.ie

carmengarciadesign@gmail.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carmengarciadesign

instagram: https://www.instagram.com




Meet the Maker- Maria Mc Garry

Maria McGarry- Feltmaker

Maria entered her piece to the “Endangered exhition” entitled-‘Marsh Fritillary Butterfly’. In our series of interviews with the makers we asked Maria questions about her piece and her textile practice.

How does your entry to the ” Endangered Exhibition” respond to the title?

 The ‘Marsh Fritillary Butterfly’ (Euphydryas aurinia or as gaeilge, Fritilean Reisc) feeds on the ‘Devil’s Bit Scabious, Sussisa pratenis, flower’. The marsh fritillary is one of Irelands few legally protected butterflies under Annex ll of the European Union Habitats and Species Directive. The species relies on the Devils bit Scabious to lay their eggs, but the habitat for this plant is declining because of farming intensification, urban development, and monoculture forestation of traditional bog lands. I was inspired by a train conversation with Dr Ken Bond, UCC who has spent many years monitoring and protecting this species.

Crafting through the current crisis.

Looking back, I have been busy during lockdown. I completed my Art Textile Level 8 course at Crawford College Cork with my piece #ONE WORLD, which charts the spread of Covid 19 on a felt population density map of the world (up to 25/5/2020). This was part of a virtual exhibition ‘EMERGING’ at The Gallery 46 Grand Parade, Cork.

#ONE WORLD was taken from the Director-General of the W.H. O’s speech on 15/04/2020, as he voiced his major concerns about the viral spread in poor countries especially Africa. That was also the day that the U.S.A President decided to stop funding to the W.H.O. 2 million accumulated cases were reported worldwide that day and over 10,000 deaths in New York.

Detail of felt, Covid19 Clusters and viral spread up to 05/05/2020

COVID 19 sent the world into lockdown in March 2020. Something invisible could affect so many people on a global scale.  A world without borders! I wondered how I could visually represent the spread of this virus on the world map. I was inspired Renna Saini Kallat’s Woven Chronicle, 2011 which is a world interconnected that ‘with Globalisation, the privilege of free movement for some means forced displacement and migration for millions of others.’

I had another piece # TICK TOCK ( the cogs of climate change)  on exhibition at The Gallery ,46 Grand Parade for the ‘HAND’ exhibition, March 2020 ( a collaboration of Crawford College, textile students and UCC  drama students). This exhibition remained in place during lockdown.

My triptych, screen printed Nuno felted and embroidered piece, #FAKE NEWS is part of the Irish Guild of Embroiders 2020 exhibition at the Lexicon, Dunlaoighre

How I discovered felt and what it means to me.

In 2010 I saw an advert for the Basics and Beyond Feltmakers Ireland workshop in Lucan and am hooked ever since. I have met so many likeminded and lovely people. I have enjoyed the Sunday sessions at the Knockmaroon Gate in the Phoenix Park, and workshops given by other members of Feltmakers Ireland. I have taken part in incredible masterclass workshops with Gabrielle Kovacs from Hungary, Nancy Ballesteros from Australia, and last year with Leiko Uchiyama.

Inspired by all the exceptionally talented friends I have met through Feltmakers Ireland, I completed my Certificate in Visual arts in NCAD IN 2018 and have now finished Art Textile in Crawford College Cork. I am passionate about textile art and making. Feltmaking is my meditative space, because the art is in the consistency and gentleness of the laying and manipulation of the fibres. This cannot be forced or rushed and does require experience and practice. I love Nuno feltmaking and the lustre of combining silk with merino wool.

Because of lockdown I have a full house working from home so my feltmaking is on hold as   my kitchen table had to be cleared. I have lots of ideas brewing and cannot wait to get back at it. Thank you Feltmakers Ireland for all the inspiration, joy and friendships over the last 10 years.

Meet the Maker- Elaine Peden

Interview with Artist Elaine Peden.

Elaine Peden is a long time, committed member of Feltmakers Ireland. Once again she took part in this organised event and submitted a wonderful piece highlighting micro plastics in water pollution. A regular contributer to the “Element 15” textile group, exhibiting around ireland, Feltmakers thanks Elaine for her continuing interest in the organisation and for helping to publicise the craft.

” Dive straight in keep your eyes wide open ” : €500

Made during lockdown over a period of two weeks.

Working from home technology “zoom” became an integral part of my working day ,I craved the creative process. Wet felting became the perfect medium for me during lockdown and helped balance my ‘right and left’ brain .

Detail of Elaines piece

I made this piece outdoors ,laying out the fibres on our long hot Covid summer days. My work is process led ;colour plays an integral role in my work . I chose lemon and golden yellow as my primary colour base , (a colour I have avoided until now) the sun reflecting off the sea.

The circular openings draws the eye to look inside , the ‘Blue’ luminous fabrics and silks buried in the voids , reflects deep sea dumping , microplastics, and the Impact of consumer culture mainly the use of plastics on our oceans .

I believe we can create  awareness about deep sea dumping through Art .I believe Covid helped us reconnect with our Blue landscape.