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.