It is that time of year again! Dublin’s Botanic Gardens are hosting a giant sculpture exhibition both indoors and outdoors. This is the 37th year of this exhibition and it is well worth a visit. The gardens are magnificent at this time of year, and you will find all manners of sculptures nestled in among the plants and trees. This is a great way to get children interested in art as it allows a natural interaction with the gardens while looking out for sculptures. It is a fabulous day out when the weather is nice.
Link to sculpture in Context website:
This year even more feltmakers are exhibiting so congrats to all and make sure to go visit!
As there are quite a number of feltmakers included there will be two blog posts covering the exhibiting artists. Artists will be listed in the order we have managed to contact them and get their information. If you have not been asked for details but are exhiting in Sculpture in Context, please contact us as there are so many artists involved that we may have missed someone. You will be included in the second part of this blog. This first blog covers the work of Fiona Leech, Tamzen Lundy, Annika Berglund, Ramona Farrelly and element15.
Toxic Tears by Fiona Leech
Bright red spots immediately conjure up recognition of poison and green, in contrast, is synonymous with nature. That is why I chose these colours for my felt hanging sculpture. The concept of this piece is to raise awareness that every rainfall is toxic. It’s called acid rain due to high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere. These toxins are invisible, so I made the piece very visible and tactile for maximum impact.
I am a Dublin based felt and textile artist. I work mainly with wool fibre which is sustainable, bio degradable, renewable and recyclable.
We are all connected by Tamzen Lundy
We are all connected is a response to the global refugee crisis, it is symbolic of our Irish diaspora and our tradition of immigration and emigration. The movement of people because of war, economics, and hardship. The red thread that binds and connects these journeys. I have collected beach material from the wild Atlantic way, places of great natural beauty, which are also landing and exit points for long and dangerous journeys. Choosing small glass bottles as if they encase a fragile message to loved ones. One bottle remains empty, to be filled with future hopes.
“No one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land” (by Warsan Shire, poet “Home.”) A poem that inspired this work.
The materials used in my piece are fully sustainable. I have used repurposed glass bottles to contain sand ( from Irish beaches… also the component for making glass). The felt tops are 100% wool, from sheep, a fully sustainable, and biodegradable material and the fibre attaching each bottle is linen, plant based, water consumption friendly material.
In my arts practice I endeavour to use materials that are as sustainable as possible. I collect and reuse packaging and I choose wool as my primary medium.
Everyday Moments by Annika Berglund
Covid changed the world. The everyday had to shrink to fit inside square walls. It consisted of the circles we walked inside these walls and the bubbles we embraced.
My work became focused on the immediate and the simple; the confining but protecting square, the circle of the nurturing bubble, the threatening image of the virus.
Felting became both practical during lockdown and symbolic;
wool fibres, through soap, water, rubbing and being knocked around, create connections that hold together to create a very strong fabric of interlocked fibres that cannot be pulled apart again. Cohesion through adversity if you will…”
Ariadne’s Gift by Ramona Farrelly
At present I am creating work that tries to incorporate the healing process of art.
The idea for this piece comes from a premise that the metaphysical wounds we suffer throughout life provide us with learning that helps us navigate and grow during our time on earth and allows life to become ever more meaningful.
The red vessels represent these wounds and they, put together, form the Chrysalis through which we intrinsically metamorphosise. In Greek mythology, Ariadne’s golden thread which, represents the soul’s knowledge, helped Theseus navigate through the labyrinth and so it is represented here as such.
Kinship by element15
element15 is a collective; individual artists cultivating their practice in tandem with each other, distinct but connected. The sustaining nature of our creative bond is a mirror of a tree’s root system, providing anchorage and sustenance to flourish in a world beset with profound challenges. In many cultures, a red string or thread represents the labyrinth of connections tying together those whose lives intertwine. By working collaboratively on Kinship we use the symbol of the red thread as a visual connection from us to the natural world, from our sculpture into the earth. www.element15.ie
The following are the names of the artists who collaborated on the piece:
In its 35th year, Sculpture in Context is held in the oasis of calm and peace that is the Botanical Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin. Run by the OPW every year and according to them is the ‘longest-running, largest and most important sculpture exhibition in the country, this pivotal event in the Irish arts calendar attracts a large public and critical audience and is the cultural highlight of the National Botanic Gardens calendar’.
If you fancy a relaxing walk in this beautiful space with wonderful and inspiring art of over 140 artists around every corner, then this would be the place to visit and explore. The exhibition runs until the 15th of October so there is still time to see it in situ and it is free of charge to visit. A total of 164 pieces are being shown at the exhibition both outdoors and indoors. This year again there are several Feltmakers Ireland members taking part at. Annika Berglund, Fiona Leech and Ramona Farrelly all have pieces at the show. Most of the pieces are being shown outdoors but both Annika and Fiona have also have pieces in the gallery space. Fiona’s piece is a triptych made from sustainable merino wool fibre and is shaped into three different size pods. Her process involved wet felting the pods themselves and then needle felting the bright yellow spots and tendrils on once the pods had been shaped and dried. These additions to the pods are a nod to nature’s strength to find its way and take over. Fiona used colours and blends of wool to reflect the natural environment. Her beautiful piece can be seen at the gallery which can be booked here:
Annika has two separate pieces, a wall panel piece indoors at the gallery (fig.2) and another piece made of multiple-coloured butterflies hanging in one of the rhododendron trees along the outdoor sculpture route
Annika’s second piece consists of a set of nine butterflies, three of which have already sold through the exhibition. The butterflies are wet felted over a metal armature and have been waterproofed for outdoor hanging with stiffener material. They are of varying colours and would brighten up anyone’s outdoor space as can be seen from this picture.
Ramona’s piece is also located outdoors. Her piece Akashic hangs in amongst the ferns and sculptures in the Mill Field area by the river. It is a small structure composed of 11 felted wool tablets which have been stiffened with waterproofing medium and painted with various coloured pigments. The whole piece was then strung together with rope constructed of tree bark.
There is lots of interest for any visitor to this exhibition and it may require several visits to see all the work in detail, but even if only some of it is seen, it is a wonderful way to spend some time in the lap of nature whilst also experiencing the creative juices of the artists taking part.
Some of the other works that can be seen at the show include the following:
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.