Breda Fay here – the money minder – an easy job in the present climate as we have no expenses.
I attended monthly meet of GANS this lunchtime. Usually I just send a link to GANS but decided today to be more personal and share some news that might be of interest to you. Some of it has time constraints so if you’re interested link to relevant sites quickly.
The POSTAGE SCHEME is going very well – €4.95 (inc VAT) for labels from An Post. The first consignment is almost gone so get your orders in quickly – A second consignment planned for before Christmas- this is a scheme for Guilds that can apply for postage rates from anpost.
The Irish Business Design Challenge has been receiving lots of applications (final date 28th October). Many of the 250+ applications are still in draft form so you still have time. It’s aimed at micro, small and medium businesses with a prize fund of €50,000. Check out the website as it might be of interest to many of our members: https://www.dcci.ie/irish-business-design-challenge
Business to Arts Fund is another scheme that might interest some of you. Will bring up an application of behalf of Feltmakers Ireland at next committee meeting. But some members might like to make their own submission for funding. Closing date is November 4th at 5pm and the project must take place between February and December 2021. Consult website for more details: https://www.businesstoarts.ie/artsfund/bank-of-ireland/
Phase 1 of “MADE LOCAL” has been a great success – with very positive reports from artists and makers. Phase 2 is to be launched in early November – the theme “Gifting for Christmas” will be in time for the Christmas market. Brian Magee (DCCI) urges all makers to register. The form is available on DCCI site or you can contact Brian at email@example.com. This campaign offers great support to makers with a wide range of publicity on radio, Nationwide on TV, social media, etc: https://www.dcci.ie/made-local
For the first time ever (or in a very long time) DCCI are putting out an open call to makers who create pieces of exceptional merit. I went to make coffee while this was being talked about – so will be in touch with Mary Whelan for relevant information!
Many of the Guilds and Societies are in the same boat as ourselves. There was particular concern about the absence of the RDS Christmas Fair. BUT there might be some good news, covid conscious of course –
Virtual Sunday Session – Fiona Duthie, Vessel within a Vessel
By Annika Berglund
Unfortunately, we can not meet in person yet due to Covid but we still want to keep up the contact with members and keep the learning opportunities coming. Feeling connected and having opportunities to develop the craft seems more important now than ever.
We thought we would look outside our group for new learning and we found an excellent tutorial by renowned teacher and artist Fiona Duthie. Fiona Duthie gives online workshops on a regular basis that have a great reputation. Unfortunately, her workshops are all fully booked for 2020. We will keep an eye open for when registration opens for 2021. Luckily for us, she also has a free online tutorial that we want to suggest to you for this month. It is a great introduction to her teaching style and you end up with a lovely little vessel and an interesting technique in felt making.
I had a go at following the tutorial and it was easy enough to understand.
First, I made a template that looks like two circles connected by a “bridge”. Then you have to think a little “inside out” and put the decoration down first on one of the circles as this one will be turned inside out eventually However, you put the decoration on last for the second circle. You rub and roll these together, throw them down a little and then you cut openings in the second circle and pull the template out through these. Finally, you push the first circle through the bridge, into the second circle. This turns the first circle inside out so the decoration becomes visible through the holes in the second circle. Magic!
‘Into the Matrix’ Exhibition: 2 pm Monday 31st August to 4pm Sunday September 13th.
Open every other day from 10-1 and 2-5pm. 7 people can visit at any one time
Liminal is a County Wicklow based group of four artists motivated by their shared experience of establishing a sense of place in their adopted county. They have come together to find strength in working collaboratively and explore contemporary ways of working with fibre arts and mixed media.
Fabienne Herbert, Christine Theobald, Anne Walsh, and Nessa McCormack met through their involvement in Feltmakers Ireland and have previously exhibited with FI. This is their first group show. Each artist has responded to the theme individually, producing wall and 3D pieces in their chosen art medium.
Anne worked as a dress designer for 18 years before following her passion to understand the myriad and innovative ways that humankind have developed to exist in their worlds. This led to her completing a degree in Anthropology, later focussing on the Anthropology of Art in her Masters in New Zealand. It was there that she first learnt to felt, an artform that had enthralled her many years earlier during frequent visits to Co Clare. On returning to Ireland she continued to explore feltmaking, attending master classes with Feltmakers Ireland, constantly seeking out the possibilities that feltmaking provided.
“Throughout my life I have been drawn to the alternatives and possibilities of other worlds, to other ways of being. The exhibition theme, Into the Matrix, defined in one dictionary as ‘a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals or fossils are embedded’, led me on a journey to explore the otherness of the little known, the underworlds of limestone ecosystems. My personal quest was to interpret this environment through the patterns I saw, believing that even within the unknown, we recognise something, it resonates within us, speaking a language that we know in our souls, and it offers us a window to imagine and understand diverse ways of living, seeing, and being in our world.”
Originally from Switzerland, Christine studied Visual Arts and Art History in Geneva. Since arriving in Ireland, many moons ago, she has worked in the field of Special Education and Autism with a particular interest in facilitating arts and creative activities. After completing a degree in Early Childhood Education, she questioned the role that creativity plays in human development. With this vision, she found herself felting her way into the visual and design world.
“Wherever my eyes wander and play, I follow. Marvelling at patterns, I like to explore the underlying framework of all things. I am fascinated by the transformation of airy fibre into shapes, revealing geometric markings, with light and shadows playing their part. Smooth felted edges create harmonious lines and blends of colour emerge softly, adding to the understanding of the piece.
Free falling ‘Into the Matrix’ of my own creative experience, I made a series of pieces that tempted fresh boundaries. Upon self-reflection, my aim was to link natural patterns and ways to follow the fibre of my intuition, directing myself towards a space of effortless creativity that I remember having as a child.”
Nessa is an Irish artist living and working in County Wicklow. Having worked in the IT industry for many years, she returned to college as a mature student in 2015 and studied Visual Art at the National College of Art and Design, Ireland. Over the past 10 years she studied and worked with screen printed and sculptural fibre art which inform the layers and textures in her paintings.
“Vibrant abstract paintings that celebrate colour and simplicity in composition, combined with a deep connection to intricate patterns, form the basis of my work.
My paintings begin with colour investigations, usually derived from sketchbook studies and evolve intuitively through play, and a considered response to emerging layers of hand printed marks, spontaneous drawing and textured paint surfaces. I strive to keep an energy and freshness going throughout the process by working in a series of paintings, taking risks, moving quickly from one to the next interpreting and responding to what each one is telling me.
I have discovered a sense of place and a deep connection with beauty in the intricate details observed in my environment: in particular, communities of abundant thriving life forms in nature, their connectivity and constant renewal.
Indigenous global cultures have embraced this deep wisdom in the natural world and offer inspiration through symbols and vivid colours found in their textiles. My current body of work is an exploration and celebration of the beauty evident in their daily rituals.”
Fabienne grew up in western France. The daughter of a dressmaker, she was drawn early on to the process of creation. After working in software localization for many years, she studied, graduated and worked as an Interior Architect. This experience reinforced her belief in the value of simple forms and that materials awake our senses, evoking memories. She also studied Visual Art Practice in NCAD, where she won a prize in Embroidery. Her art is inspired by observations of her surroundings, an experience or a moment in time. Using printmaking and thread work, her work evolved towards abstraction, influenced by cubism and the Bauhaus movement. Fabienne has now taken a more experimental approach to her work by making and using natural and plant-based materials.
“How I perceive my surroundings, and what engages my senses, drive what I do. I seek to capture a shape, an outline, an element and build upon this. By expressing myself, I can find a balance between a sense of order and the unexpected. My process can start with a mark, a colour, a material or a series of experiments. I use printmaking and thread work to construct simple forms in wall art and sculptural pieces. I make my own colours using plants which I turn into a natural print paste, dye or ink. Having a direct link with the raw material is fundamental to my creative process.
Into the Matrix evokes the idea of repeated forms and actions, as seen all around us. For this exhibition I explore the relationship between repetition, pattern and space and how it impacts us. Based on my observations of the San Francisco city scape, this body of work looks at how materiality and repetition define our environment. I interact and move through the city where space, form and place meet.
All my pieces in this exhibition include natural dyes, pigments or inks made either from my garden plants, local flora foraged in Wicklow and during my journeys in France, or from food and plant waste.”
I joined the Feltmakers Ireland committee back in 2018. I took over the role of Chair back at the start of this year, ah, and what a year it has been.
A Global Pandemic wasn’t on my prediction list for 2020 and it certainly was not on the FMI “aims and objectives”! Who would have thought it? How our lives could be changed, futures altered and humans “Endangered”.
The title for our 2020 exhibition had already been decided at the end of 2019. After a few brainstorming sessions and with the Climate action protests at the forefront of our mind, we all agreed it was an appropriate topic. Ambiguous enough to give scope to creativity but clear enough to hopefully link the incoming submissions.
I am terribly proud that as a group we managed to put on an exhibition at all this year. Our proposal was for a gallery space at the Knit &Stitch in the RDS, this was cancelled… we had a plan B in place, a lovely space in the visitor centre at the Phoenix Park- 3 weeks before we were due to open this space changed too!
We flexed a little and changed course, in the end the judges- Gabi Mc Grath and Jane Fox were extremely impressed with the standard and marked and ranked the pieces. This we communicated to the applicants.
As a committee however, we decided we would try to show everyone’s work. With the year that’s in it, our aim is to keep the community motivated, to promote the work of local artists and to support… and so it was- all applicants work was shown albeit in a smaller location in the Phoenix park and we hope that you have enjoyed the on-line “meet the maker” interviews and photographs too…
Here’s mine. Tamzen x
The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc
My piece is titled “Coral Bleaching” it highlights the topic of habitat loss, specifically in the Great Barrier Reef, the phenomenon of coral bleaching linked to elevated sea temperatures.
It is a textural piece using wet felt techniques including cords, attachments and shibori as well as hand embroidery and bead work.
I love colour and texture, so I’ve used bright fluo combinations. I interspersed these highly coloured sections with neutral undyed “ bleached” out wool, where hopefully the textures speak for themselves.
Last year I undertook the #100day project and many of the small pieces I created reminded me of coral or sea creatures. I spent some time collecting plastic waste and ghost fishing nets and incorporated small pieces of these into my work. I suppose that this “Coral Bleaching” piece is a continuation of that work.
Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss
In my family this really has been a crisis year. I was acutely aware of the Global situation as it unfolded. I watched Covid 19 news closely as it emerged in China back in January. Back in 2003 I was working in Hong Kong when Sar’s emerged. I remember the nervousness of having my temperature checked at the airport en route home from a business trip.
With my own fashion design work, I travelled to Germany in February this year to consult with a large retailer ( and took a face mask with me “just in case”, but it stayed wrapped and sealed in my pocket).
By the end of that month, our relatives in Milan, Italy were in lockdown.
My Indian boss, whose family live in Madrid- had already started home-schooling.
On 12th March I picked up my 3 Children from school. My partner and I still didn’t realise then that by the end of the month both my freelance business of 15years would have ended ( I hope suspended, but I simply don’t know) I would have become full time- “home- school” teacher on PUP!
As large European retailers simply cancelled orders for knitwear, product that was already designed, manufactured, and shipped, the knock-on effect to the manufacturers and all their auxiliary partners (including me) was extreme. Capital dried up, goods stopped at ports and contracts abandoned, claims of “Force majeure” as European retailers shuttered their doors and passed the problem to the Asian manufacturers, ( and freelancers like me) who soaked up the losses.
I turned my focus to staying healthy, keeping mind and body together, working on my own creative projects and my family.
Luckily for my birthday my folks sent down a great big package of fibre, so materials weren’t a problem and crafting as always played a huge part in my life.
Art and Craft is not something I do in my spare time; it is the thing I do. The Earth without Art… Eh.
I’ve used this time to make 2 videos for DCCI and to start to video my work for future on-line felting tutorials. I am also organising a local #madeinmaynooth market for artists and crafters to simply set up a socially distanced stand and hold a “art and craft walk” on a designated day in the month.
I’m doing this as well as setting up an etsy store, supporting my kids as they transition back to school and volunteering with the FMI committee.
Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
It was at a Knit & Stitch show a good few years ago now that I first saw a demonstration. I studied Fashion and textiles at university and design knitwear ( very commercial, colour and trends) but felt was not something I had done before. I loved the versatility, 2d and 3d. It was almost like magic, fibre to cloth, with no needles!
Felting means I can be creative at my kitchen table. I can be present in the house, I can chat to the kids, but I can also work creatively for me.
I have an output for my creative madness that is both flexible and forgiving, qualities I respect and strive for in life.
I’d like to take this opportunity as the “Endangered” exhibition closes to thank our hosts the OPW, Phoenix Park visitor centre, The DCCI, The feltmakers Ireland voluntary committee for their hard work, our two esteemed Judges- Gabi Mc Grath and Jane Fox and all the applicants for their wonderful work.
We hope that through these tough times you have been inspired to keep crafting, keep creative and keep safe.
We asked artist Deirdre Crofts the same 3 questions that we asked all the “Endangered” applicants…
The title of the exhibition is “Endangered” how does your submission relate to that concept?
My piece was inspired by the wonderful Irish Bee. 30% of the Irish Bee species are threatened with extinction, this is because of intensive farming practices, monocropping and excessive use of agricultural chemicals. I wanted to show the bees disorientated over the Irish countryside. I used a wet felted resist background. The bees I needle felted with galvanised wire support with free motion embroidery voile wings. I enjoyed making this piece.
How did you first come upon felting?
I was first introduced to felt work by the genius Sharon Wells and then I met the very welcoming feltmakers Ireland group. They were so friendly and helpful, the magic of being able to take colourful raw wool and with warm water and soap you could make such wonderful things.
The coronovirus lockdown, did it help or hinder your craft?
The covid pandemic, tho terrible it was, gave me time to breathe and spend time with my family, we walked and worked in the garden. We had time to enjoy what we had.
I am lucky I live on three quarters of an acre on the foothills of the Dublin mountains where I have a studio. I love sculpture and I had some ceramic exhibitions that I had to prepare pieces for. They took place in August and September.
Ceramics Ireland, Dublin Castle, Montenotte Cork and Birr Castle Co Offaly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.