Interview with Catherine Kaufman

12-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-14Catherine Kaufman, sometimes affectionately known as the “Woolly Queen”. Feltmakers Ireland requested an interview ahead of seeing her work in this years Knit & Stitch at the RDS, Dublin.

Following on from her win at the Ribble Valley Craft Open Exhibition 2019, Catherine Kaufman was asked to exhibit her work at Olympia in London, and she is set to showcase her sculptures in Dublin as part of the Knit & Stitch show 7th-11th November this year.

Catherine grew up in a household full of art –her father was an antiques dealer and as a small child, she recalls her mother drawing beautiful elaborate pictures.

“Our home was filled with beautiful art and furniture – this greatly influenced me. My mother drew dancing ladies with crinolines for me which I loved.”

As a young girl Catherine always had a love of nature, imagining a world of fairy tales in the forests, countryside and riverbanks as she played near her childhood home.

“I remember that I always gravitated to the nature table at school, it was a magnet for me. I was always making and putting things together. I loved sand, playing with water and my favourite was fuzzy felt.

36-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-38This was the start of things to come.

“I loved the smells of nature and the birdsong and noises. While among nature my imagination would be full of fairies and pixies and characters from stories I had read. It was all there, a rich tapestry just waiting to emerge.”

Attending a Catholic school in Altrincham, outside Manchester. Catherine left school at 16 but it wasn’t until she was living as a housewife in Rossendale, that she began to re-engage with her love of art.

“I began painting, I joined a local watercolour class, while bringing up my three children and I was asked to apply for a place at Blackburn University to study for a BA in Fine Art. At first, I thought it was crazy as I had no academic experience and I was a housewife with children! I wasn’t sure they had the right person to be honest!

“I made every possible excuse not to goas I was scared, but they kept pursuing meso eventually I decided to try it.”

Catherine went on to gain a first-class Fine Art degree in 2012 and is now one of the UK’s leading needle felt fibre artists.

39-Lee-Parkinson---Live-Magazines-Photography---Catherine---Sculpture-41

“Working as a felt fibre sculptor happened by chance. One morning I saw a lady who was demonstrating spinning and felting. I had never considered this medium before.

I asked her if she thought I could make sculptural figures with wool. She went onto teach me all the craft skills I needed to start creating my work.

That lady was Judith Beckett of the Wonder of Woollies and she became my guru and mentor. “Wool is now my love and being a fibre artist is my life.” says Catherine.

Catherine gleans inspiration from many things to create her beautiful life-size sculptures, as she explains: “It all starts with a thread of an idea. Where to start comes in many forms, I may find a figure whirling around in my subconscious – I often don’t really know who will surface so it’s very exciting!

“Then I get to work practically and physically, and the figure literally comes pouring out. It’s something that once I start, I don’t stop until its finished, so I never quite know how long it’s going to take or how I’m going to create it. It all happens naturally and organically during the creative process.”

Catherine admits that her creations are a reflection of her emotions. It is a way of working that suits my personality. I work for long periods with my pieces, so I can attach myself and immerse myself

completely into it. I find this very healing and comforting. The making process is so physical – it is very therapeutic and cathartic.”

Having chosen wool as her medium for her art, Catherine says it was important to her to select a material that is environmentally friendly and organic.

“In a world of synthetics there is no substitute for wool. Wool has a celestial symbolism that represents purity and truth.”

She sees her work as a ceaseless daily discipline: “It stems from my love of the making process, the physical repetitive act of making and assembling. I explore my own sense of self and that of the female narrative within the yarns.”

Her award-winning work showcased at the Spring Knitting and Stitching Show in London, was highly praised and she was delighted to be able exhibit there:  I was chosen to be an exhibiting textile artist there and was lucky to have a large stand where I displayed my collection of sculptural needle felt. The show was wonderful, and I have had a great response to my work, and I met some wonderful people.

I hope to raise awareness of the value of traditional crafts. This at the heart of what I do and if I can inspire young people to keep these ancient skills alive, then I have succeeded.”

You can see Catherine’s work at this year’s Knit & Stitch show in the RDS 7th-11th November… support your fellow felters- and get along!

Catherine Kaufman

Sunday Session 13th Oct 10:30am

october 19session

we hope to see many of you there… we will hear from participants of the recent workshop. Share ideas and cosy chat. Lets have a full house again. Tea/ Coffee and Buns as usual. Come along for an autumnal craft & chat.

Fibre sales available as usual and plenty of anticipation around the Knit & Stitch show also.

See you then! 10:30am Knockmarroon Gate Studio. Phoenix Park.

Sunday Session 13th Oct 10:30am

october 19session

we hope to see many of you there… we will hear from participants of the recent workshop. Share ideas and cosy chat. Lets have a full house again. Tea/ Coffee and Buns as usual. Come along for an autumnal craft & chat.

Fibre sales available as usual and plenty of anticipation around the Knit & Stitch show also.

See you then! 10:30am Knockmarroon Gate Studio. Phoenix Park.

Interview with Valerie Wartelle.

Into-The-Drift-#2SS-VALERIE WARTELLELike many of our members I follow a few felt makers on Instagram and Facebook for inspiration. One Artist that caught my eye recently is Valerie Wartelle. When I saw in the spring that she was attending a Royal horticultural Show with an Artisan felt stand thus marrying my two loves of craft and plants I was inspired to make contact. I asked Valerie a few questions about herself and her practice.

Tell us a little about you as a person?

Brought up in France and French Polynesia, I enjoyed a loving childhood with my two siblings, French father and Scottish mother. My mother involved us from an early age in all kind of making, sewing and cooking. Therefore as a teenager you would have found me happily making my own clothes and involved in varied creative crafts.

Somehow predictably, on completion of my schooling, I left France to study in England – I attended an art foundation in Essex followed by a BSc Textile Design course at the University of Huddersfield (then Huddersfield Polytechnic) where I specialised in Knitwear.

Then followed a 10-year period working in Manchester as a knitwear designer. Whilst I loved it, I felt the need to bring my IT skills up to the 21st century and in 1999 returned to University to take a Masters in Interactive Multimedia Product Development- such joy to be learning again! Strangely I then worked for over 13 years for my Local Authority mainly with Elected Members, and barely touching a thread or knitting needle.

The-Hum-SS-VALERIE WARTELLE

How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey with felt?

I was introduced to needle felting during my studies, though I must admit never explored it further. It was not till many years later that a friend showed a few of us how to wet felt. I remember the event well – a rainy Autumnal Sunday afternoon and more specifically finding myself utterly spellbound by the wet felting process…

Move forward to 2012 when I finally tackled my first wet felting project, slowly reacquainting myself with my love of colours and textiles. I initially made design products, such as notebook covers, laptop covers, scarves; but it wasn’t long before my interest solely focussed on mark making, textures and colour.

I quickly realised I needed more time to dedicate to my new hobby, and resolved to compress my working week onto 4 days. I started showing pieces at local art events, received good feedback and in September 2014 decided to take the leap and establish myself as a full time artist.

I now have a studio near my home in Halifax in an old Mill – it’s a lovely space if a little dusty and unfinished, but has plenty of light, and critically some heating!

IMG_4164
Tell us about your process from conception to creation?

My inspiration comes mainly from the rural environment – sometimes from a collected object (pebble, fossil, and grasses), sometimes a photograph, and lately more often than not a drawing or sketch. Whatever triggers my interest, I draw on its colour, texture, form and light… curious about how to translate it using wet felting.

Understanding the craft and behaviour of materials is very important to me, but so is the manipulation of fibres as an expressive art form.  I love the properties of wool and I feel it lends itself well to the dramatic and moody landscapes we have here in Yorkshire. I start with a pre-felt, which equates to having a blank canvas, and I apply fibres in fine layers in a painterly way. I enjoy bringing in other elements (fabric, thread, printing…) to create depth and transparency within the composition. The analogy with painting is significant, making the viewing inquisitive and challenging people’s perception.

What currently inspires you?

Currently I am experimenting with working BIG… size and weight brings a new set of issues to have to resolve along with working flat, working wet and with shrinkage. However solving issues is to me intrinsic to the creative process – it is by seeking out solutions that I achieve small breakthrough. The organic and at times unpredictable response of the medium will keep me curious and engaged for some time to come.

 

Thank you Valerie for taking the time to respond. Your story is inspiring. Valerie plans to exhibit at the Knit & Stitch show, Dublin in 2020. You can find more information on workshops she runs and her work at her website below.

www.valeriewartelle.co.uk/news

Drifting-Thread VALERIE WARTELLE
VALERIE WARTELLE

We at felt makers Ireland plan to keep in touch and perhaps link up with Valerie to run a workshop in the future.

 

 

Heritage day event

https://www.heritageweek.ie/whats-on/event/felted-bunting

heritage day 2

It would be lovely to see our members on the day! Familiar faces and fancy felters, to help guide new beginners in the art & craft of  this past time from past times- that is felt making.

Thank you again for all your contributions already to our wonderful bunting! If you haven’t already submitted a piece of your work- a triangle of bunting then this is your chance! Come along, drink tea, eat buns and show your skills.  This is an extra long felting session- replacing our normal Sunday session…

We will be using this bunting for decorating our stand at the knit & stitch- your piece is vital. Your skills are welcomed and we would love to see our valued members pass on their skills to new comers.

The Final 3 featured Artists showing at “Something Red” in Finland

This is the final in a series of posts featuring the Artists whose work was selected for the “Something Red” exhibition in Finland. This week we look at the work of Niki Collier, Marika Miklosi Manning & Nessa McCormack.

Luckily as most of us have not been able to see the exhibits in person, we look forward to the Irish exhibits returning and featuring as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival 8th-22nd Sept in Portumna

Artist – Niki Collier 

My Egg. Do Not Sit III

An interpretation of the human ovary in fibre, mounted on a transparent structure. Discussing women’s freedom and the perception of ownership. 

Sale price. €875.00

Materials – merino wool, silk fibres, Nuno felted knit mohair, vintage silk from the artist’s grandmother, Russian silk from her mother, Blueface Leicester fibres, fibre from a dog who had miscarried, and fbres from a sheep who won the national championship at Gosford.

Image-2 (22)
Marika Miklosi Manning

Artist – Marika Miklosi Manning

Red Between the Lines

We can easily miss or are blind to  trouble or pain,  sometimes we are in denial about  the “red” between the lines.

 Sale price. €125.00

Materials – Kap merino wool, tussah silk fibres, merino wool

Notes – this is intended to be displayed standing with the long cord casually laid on the table, encircling the vessel.

Image-2 (7)
Nessa Mc Cormack

Artist – Nessa McCormack

Untitled.

I have always loved groups of things, little colonies of harmony repeating themselves. It’s a reassuring feeling, the process of repeating, making and slowly building layers. I am very drawn to rolls of delicate paper and fabric with the selvedge exposed. I think these elements have influenced me in making this piece.

Red is not a colour I usually work with. In the process of making this piece I learned how much I liked the intensity of saturated warm colours. It was nice to be surprised in this way.

Sale price. €325.00

Materials – fine merino fibre, pieced and stitched.

Once again our sincere thanks to DCCoI for the part funding received that enabled Feltmakers ireland to take part in these exhibitions.

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Heritage Week events

agriculture-animal-animal-photography-459215Hi All,

We are delighted to be hosting a Heritage Week event on Sunday August 18th from 11-3pm.

18th August, 11am – 3pm

  • Feltmakers Ireland
  • The Studio, Knockmaroon Gate, Phoenix Park
  • Dublin – Dublin City

We are planning a tea party and will be making Bunting!

Bunting is widely used for festive occasions. Felt makers Ireland invite you to channel your creativity and make triangular bunting to create a festive look around the Studio for Heritage week.

Our members submitted bunting triangles at this year’s AGM to show their talents and skills in the versatile craft of felt-making. We plan to use this celebratory decoration in up-coming events such as the Knit & Stitch show held at the RDS in November. Our bunting may even tour around to decorate our upcoming Exhibition in Galway or our international tutor workshop in Dublin this autumn.

Bunting was first made in the 17th century, usually from fine worsted wool and used to decorate ships. Felt makers Ireland has adapted this craft of past times and invites participants to create colourful triangles with wool fibre, soapy water and your own “elbow energy”. You might even be encouraged to take up felt making as a pastime!

Everyone is welcome to this free event. Learn the skill of felt making- make a triangle of bunting to take away- or leave with us and it will be added to our bunting for decorating the studio.

HERITAGE DAY

OTHER EVENTS FOR HERITAGE WEEK CAN BE SEEN HERE

https://www.heritageweek.ie/whats-on/event/felted-bunting

3 Artists showing at “Something Red” in Finland.

3 more Artists for you today, Fiona Leech, Nicola Brown & Tracey King. All exhibiting currently in Finland, then onward to Portumna 8th-22nd Sept as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival.

Chance-something red
Fiona Leech

Artist – Fiona Leech

Chance

My piece was inspired (though “inspire” is perhaps the wrong word) by the recent appalling cervical smear scandal that has shaken Irish society. Women are dying needlessly in this country and women are feeling quite vulnerable relying on the health system.

I had wanted to celebrate womenhood, as “red” evokes feelings of strength,warmth,friendship,and love; but as I was working a strong sense of anger grew which I couldn’t shake. I listen to the radio a lot while I work!

The process of felt making is physical, great for anger management, while producing a softness, in contrast with the hard surfaces of a dice. It makes you want to touch….to reach out to care and nurture…..  

 Sale price. €350.00

Materials – merino wool, cotton embroidery thread, industrial felt stuffing.

Artist – Nicola Brown

Where Passions Unite

This wall hanging marries my passions for wet felting, silviculture, eco printing and working with natural materials. I feel that it encapsulates my current textile practice, simple, natural, crafted.

Sale price. €425.00

Materials – merino, silk, tencel, and firestar.

Keep me close to your heart

A special gift for a friend, new mother or baby, to wrap them up, keep them warm and in the case of a child provide a soft safe surface to play on. It’s a token of love from me to them and a reminder for them to keep me close to their heart.

Sale price. €425.00

Materials – merino, silk, vintage Japanese kimono silk. Machine washable, bound with eucalyptus dyed vintage Japanese kimono silk.

Tracey King
Tracey King

Artist – Tracy King

A Little Taste of Ireland

I am interested in the old ways, the simple way people appeared to live. Inspired by my surroundings in the west of Ireland, combining the raw organic textures of wool, I create images that I would like to live in. This particular work tries to capture a living emotion of a place.

The work is made of wool from Jacob and Texel sheep. The different image elements were pre-felted before assembling the image. A small amount of wool was dyed with cochineal for the woman’s shawl, which was one of the most typical garments for Irish women in the 19th century.

Sale price. €1968.00

 Materials – Jacob and Texel sheep wool

 

With Thanks to DCCoI for part funding the exibition.

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Feltmakers Ireland – Report from Finland

FILTTI GROUP AND MAUREENBy Maureen Cromer, edited by Tamzen Lundy

In autumn 2018, Feltmakers Ireland were invited by Filtti, the association of Feltmakers of Finland, to take part in a joint exhibition of work, to be shown in  Jamsa, Finland during the month of July, 2019. The chosen title for the show was to be “Something Red”. While taking felt to Finland seemed a bit like taking coals to Newcastle, we were up for the challenge.

www.filtti.fi/association.

We put out a call to our members, seeking submissions for a juried selection of works to be sent to Jamsa. We are grateful to Leiko Uchiyama and Colleen Prendiville for agreeing to act as our two independent judges. After a double anonymous judging we had a selection of 26 pieces from 18 artists. These covered just about every imaginable aspect of felted art. There were framed pieces, sculptural works, wall hangings, wearables, even a book. We sent photographs of a selection of the work to our colleague Sirpa Mäntylä for their advance publicity. The chosen pieces were then all carefully wrapped and shipped to Sirpa in Jamsa in plenty of time for their team to prepare the display.

Filtti kindly suggested that some of us might like to travel over for the opening of the show on Sunday 30th June, and some of us did! A group of 6 travelled over, including our chairperson Vicky Blomfield and Maureen Cromer, the curator of the Irish works. We arrived the day before the opening, just as they were finishing the hanging, and were able to make any adjustments to the display that we felt were needed.

FELTMAKERS IRELAND IN FINLAND

Filtti certainly had prepared a full itinerary for the 3 days that we were with them. After arriving and having a light meal, we were joined by the journalist from the local newspaper who wanted to know all about our pieces and our artists. She walked around the entire exhibition, asking questions and taking photographs. There is a great amount of local interest in this annual exhibition.

Here is an extract from a local newspaper;

Article by Anne Lius-Liimatainen, Keskisuomalainen Tuesday 2.7.2019

Red and strong

The Massacre of Ballymurphy has been felted and is shown in the shelter of Kivipankki walls

 The Massacre of Ballymurphy 1971 has affected the Irish felt makers’ self-esteem and has now been the source of inspiration for artist Tamzen Lundy in her felt work for the felt exhibition of Finnish Felt association Filtti in Jämsä.

something red- Ballymurphy precedent. Tamzen Lundy
something red- Ballymurphy precedent. Tamzen Lundy

11 civilians were killed by British soldiers in Ballymurphy. The incident had a strong influence which escalated in the bloody Sunday a year later. Eleven dead civilians with their bullet holes have been felted symbolically in Lundy’s felt work. The work has been placed downstairs at the Kivipankki gallery in a cantered place.

When we read what this piece describes, it raised the hairs in my neck. This work truly raised surprisingly strong feelings among artists, says Vicky Blomfield.

The 21st felt exhibition opened on Monday at Kivipankki. The exhibition has a strong international taste. The exhibition is open for public, is free of entrance fee and ends August 4th and carries a name “Something red”.

The exhibition has 18 Irish and 26 Finnish felt works. The red thread of the exhibition is colour red. There are many various materials and forms in the exhibition, from felt shoes to wall hangings and sculptures.

Supported by the Irish Design and Craft Council, Feltmakers Ireland organized a jury and finally 26 felt works were chosen from 18 felt artists. The weight of feeling in the exhibition is strong.

Maureen Cromer of Feltmakers Ireland association tells that they brought works of 18 felt artists to Finland. Some of the works reflect a strong political message.

The heartache of the Irish. E.g. in my works is deal with mental health and healing, Cromer tells.

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Day 2:

The next day was the long anticipated opening of Something Red. There were quite a few members attending, which when you consider the size of the country was impressive! It was lovely to meet like-minded people and discuss the differences and similarities in our culture and practice, and in the materials we use and the artists we are familiar with. The exhibition was opened by Päivi Himanen, the Cultural Director for the area, and gifts were exchanged between the two guilds. Then Vicky and Maureen spoke about the joy and excitement of bringing Irish felt to Finland, and our gratitude to DCCI for part funding the undertaking.

Our last day:

Before returning home, there wasn’t a dull moment. We began with an interview with yet another journalist. There was great interest in the back stories to many of the Irish entries, which concerned topics such as pollution, mental and physical health care, and the Northern conflict. It seems the colour red raised a lot of strong emotions in the Irish.

We then went on a round trip of several farms, visiting local herds and producers. There was absolutely wonderful quality of fibre available, and we purchased a good bit to satisfy our members’ curiosity. We were taken to several felt factories as well. It was great to see the efficient output from relatively small cottage industries. With felt being such an intrinsic part of Finnish culture, its production was evident everywhere. Sirpa arranged for us to meet a moose and learn a bit about the raising of moose and reindeer. Their pelts were in shops all over the country, and reindeer meat is part of the cuisine. By the time we got back to our apartment, after several sightseeing detours and a stop for dinner, we were more than ready for bed.

The exhibition will continue in Jamsa, Finland, until the 4th of August.

The Irish work will then return here to be on display in Portumna Castle as part of the Shorelines Festival from Sept 8-22. We are so proud of our members who have fully supported our guild in this undertaking. And we are very grateful to DCCI for part funding our participation, allowing us to develop a strong cultural partnership with Filtti. I’m sure we will be working together in the future.

www.shorelinesartsfestival.com

MAUREEN IN FINLAND

translation of jämsän seutu article

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3 Irish Artists exhibit in Finland

3 more Artists for you today, Elaine Peden, Mauren Cromer & Tamzen Lundy. All exhibiting currently in Finland, then onward to Portumna 8th-22nd Sept as part of the Shorelines Arts Festival.

 

Artist – Elaine Peden

Red in a world of black and white 

The tiny coccus beetle found in Mexico huddles on the sunny side of a prickly cactus leaf, transforming into Red. Introducing white and red elements on a black background, this is  my interpretation of white noise , fake news. Red gives  clarity to the art of thinking clearly .

Sale price. €100.00

Materials used – dyed and I dyed Kap merino wool fibres with 3D elements and layering

Land of the Dawn lit Mountain 

Notes – A wall hanging.

An evening walk in the Dublin mountains watching the movement of light through the evergreens , the magnificent Red glow of the sunset marking the close of another day 

Sale price. €250.00

Maureen Cromer at Finnish exhibition
Maureen Cromer at Finnish exhibition

Artist – Maureen Cromer

Mending the Soul

The soul here stands for the “self” – who we are. We are constantly learning, growing, blooming But, of course, sometimes we need to heal from injuries, to mend, physically. But more importantly, to mend both mentally and spiritually.

The white body of the work represents this soul, while the red threads show the mending underway. The needles have been left attached, because self care is an ongoing process.

Sale price. €325.00

Materials – Native Perendale and Southdown fibres, Wensleydale locks, Irish linen, cotton mesh, silk fibre, silk hankies, rayon, silk and polyester threads for free motion machine embroidery, cotton and vintage red silk threads for hand embroidery, sashiko needles.

Artist – Tamzen Lundy

The Red Thread of Fate – Ballymurphy Precedent

Inspired by the ancient Chinese belief that those destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance, are bound by an invisible red thread which may tangle but never break.

I took this idea of connection and applied it to a little known story from Northern Ireland, where I grew up. A story of brutal bloodshed. The shootings happened in Ballymurphy, a Catholic housing estate in Belfast, in 1971. These shootings, carried out by British soldiers on civilians, killed 11 people over 3 days. The relatives continue to fight for the truth. The same parachute regiment were involved in the Bloody Sunday events in Londonderry, 5 months later.

I have used red Irish linen as the red thread, knotted according to the number of bullet wounds per person. The thread is broken to indicate the different days of the massacre, however there is the illusion of connection to represent those individuals bound by their fate. The colour red representing bloodshed. The flax of the linen is an Irish grown product – on home soil.

Sale price. €150.00

Materials – merino wool, silk chiffon, Irish linen threads

Migraine Days

Inspired by my own experience of living with migraine disease.

Migraine is more than just a headache. There is a saying ” it rarely kills you, but living with it is murder”.

The piece of art is meant to illustrate in some way the feeling I have inside my head on migraine days. Throbbing, piercing and pulsating.

Using a combination of techniques – stitch and beadwork on wet felt. Red silk with wool nepps represent the throbbing area, embellished with glass beads that pierce the site.

Sale price. €75.00

Materials – merino wool fibre and wool nepps, red silk and glass beads.

This exhibition was part funded by DCCoI

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