Exhibition preparations and retreat update, in brief

Only one week to go and the first ten day residential Irish felting and eco printing retreat will have started, I’m so excited!!! All the preparations are well underway and last week the merino and silk arrived, the last of the actual workshop supplies.

From now until the end of August it’s full steam ahead at Clasheen, I need to have all my solo show preparation completed before 8th July (actually that is tonight!) because I’ll not get a minute free from then until I have to hang the exhibition. I’d be delighted if some of you were able to come to the opening reception or indeed visit any day during the course of Kilkenny Arts Festival.

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The title of my show is ‘Perennial: From Plant to Print’ and it’s a new collection of luxurious silk, linen, felt and locally woven lambswool, eco printed with leaves, onion skins and hedgerow vegetation. Please just let me know if you’re planning a visit and I’ll be able to tell you at that stage whether I’ll be free to meet up for a quick coffee and a chat!

 

 

 

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FORM photo shoot and exhibition news

Things are starting to fall into place for the upcoming FORM exhibition in Carlow, it’s going to be the first time that the new look lineup has participated in a public event together. We’ll also be launching our new concertina style brochure for the group and the Local Enterprise Office are profiling Ariane Tobin, Martin Marley and me in a larger promotional publication for the county too, exciting times ahead! As a result, I’ve been busy sampling and felting a large wall hanging to show at the exhibition. I had promised to share some pics of eco printing from the new brass preserving pan but I’m going to reserve those for another post. Instead here are a few images taken by Rory Moore recently, thanks Rory, John and Tomomi for all your hard work organising such a successful FORM photoshoot!

The wall hanging here is not the one I’ll be showing in Carlow, it’s a much smaller forerunner but like the exhibition piece it’s felted from a variety of different eco printed silks with a base of fine quality merino.

November/December news to date……..

The end of November and all of December to date has been a tightly coreographed dance of preparation, packing, unpacking, stand set up and stand take down, in short a whirlwind of selling events. Currently my work is on display as part of the FORM exhibition at 57 Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. This last show of the season continues until 6pm on Sunday 20th December and has been a wonderful venue for sharing Carlow craft with a wider audience. Thanks Carlow LEO for your assistance with the venue and signage.

I was delighted to have one of my small lambswool cushions selected by the DCCoI (Design & Crafts Council of Ireland) for their curated area at the National Crafts & Design Fair at the RDS. Making a commitment to concentrate on printing luxury fabrics has been a good business decision, nerve wracking (because of the associated higher retail prices) but well worth the initial mental effort. Heavier fabrics such as lambswool and higher momme silk absorb the colour more intensely than lighter ones in my opinion and I'm finding it leaves me freer to concentrate on getting good placement of pattern.

Small lambswool cushion included in this display as background for a short tv recording

One of the most satisfying things (aside from sales of course!) at all these pre Christmas events was how many customers from last year returned to tell me that they were enjoying their previous purchases and how surprised they were that multiple washes hadn't affected the eco printed colour at all. It was really great to get this feedback, I know how well my own pieces wash but it's quite another thing when others have the same experience.

Anita wearing her eco printed wool jacket

I met really lovely people at all the events, the Glucksman Gallery, Marlay Park, the RDS and now Blackrock in addition to spending happy hours chatting and explaining a little about the eco printing process to those who were interested.
 
Finally for today, although I've not yet seen all the images from the recent photo shoot with Patrick McHugh I was thrilled to be able to use this first one for new signage just in time for the RDS! Ivey Sullivan from Morgan the Agency did a fantastic job with hair and make up while model Mya was amazing for this her first professional photo shoot, thanks so much everybody!!!

Felt wrap and eco printed silk dress

 
 

 

 

Shells and sea slugs!

I returned home yesterday evening after being treated by my mother to 3 wonderful nights at Fort Royal Hotel in Donegal, thanks mum!!!

Shells glistening in the water

Here’s a picture of some shells at the edge of the shoreline, don’t they just glisten in the water as the light catches their colours?

This morning it was back to business: the first of 5 workshop sessions with Carlow Wheelchair Association (it went brilliantly!), a visit to a friend in hospital, yet more tidying and washing/drying clothes and now trying to catch up with a few things on the internet.

Tomorrow and Sunday I need to finish my latest nudibranch (sea slug) because it needs to be delivered to the Crafts Council on Monday morning.  Fingers crossed everything will work out over the weekend and the sculpture will make the final selcetion process and be exhibited at ‘Seascapes’ later in the winter, I’ll keep you posted!

Exhibition wrap up, preparation for Chrissie and Nigel’s arrival and please vote for Dawn!

Yesterday evening our 10 days exhibiting at Grennan Mill Craft School was over.  I had such fun over the last two weeks, spending time with Alex (director of the craft school), the other artists and everybody helping them set up and invigilate the show, I think we all had a ball!  Welcoming visitors to the ground floor space Clive Nunn had a wonderful exhibition exploring his journey through Irish furniture over the last 30 years.  It was fascinating to read his story boards and see examples of venacular furniture side by side with the stylish modern designs that he now makes to commission from his studio a stones throw down the road from Grennan.

Detail from my favourite of Trini's batics

Moving up the stairs to the mezzanine gallery, Trini Kenny’s amazing batics drew gasps of admiration from all our visitors and many people were tempted to put their hands in their pockets and bring one of these beautiful framed pieces home with them.  My work was on this level too in the first floor gallery and two flights of stairs higher saw wonderful leather work from Brendan Brennan and an amazing photography exhibition from Kirsty O’Keeffe.  Finally up a further two flights of stairs to the top floor gallery where Maire Gartland had a fabulous exhibition of paintings and beautiful hand made books.  This is the largest gallery in the mill and Maire’s work really showed off the space to the best advantage.  The public appreciated her work too and it was great to see people not afraid to invest in a bigger piece of art, some of the canvases were huge!

Turquoise, white and hot orange felt vessel

I was very happy to sell 4 of my vessels and 4 framed seascapes.  It was good too to get a comission for another framed piece and potentially 2 more comissions for small vessels, fingers crossed they both pan out.  Many visitors are interested in felting workshops so all in all it was a very successful experience for me sharing my work and meeting other like minded individuals!

Today I have been battling in my kitchen and other areas of the house in preparation for Chrissie and Nigel Day’s arrival on Thursday.  Most of you probably know by now that the wonderful Dawn Edwards and I both attended the same university of housework, unfortunately I was a dropout so there really is a LOT of work to get done before Chrissie and I have our launch party for ‘From Felt to Friendship’ next Saturday!!!  Speaking of Dawn, please, please, please head on over HERE, check out her amazing hat and vote for her if you would like to see a fellow felter win the design opportunity of a lifetime.  She needs 100s of you to click that vote button so don’t be shy, the leader at the moment has over 1000 votes so let’s see if the power of our textile network can really push Dawn up that list fast, there are only 2 days left!!!

Musings from the exhibition to date and new nuno felt wrap today

It’s been very interesting and revealing invigilating at Grennan Mill Craft School, each of the 6 artists needs to either man the show for 3 full days or 6 half ones, I have chosen to do 3 full days.  If I wanted I could nominate someone else to do my stints but for me a lot of the pleasure at this stage of the process is to meet the public and see how people engage with all the work on display.  It has become increasingly obvious as the days go by that people either love the felt or hate it (maybe hate is too strong a word!), there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground at all.  I love watching everyone’s expressions when they first enter my space, many people are totally surprised when they discover the vessels and sculptures are wool, they know that they appear tactile but they often think that they are ceramic none the less!

Stitched seascape

It has also been interesting to discover that even if people do like these non functional pieces they may not have a place in their homes to display them.  After I sold my only stitched seascape on the first day several people said that they were interested in hanging this type of work in their home, in fact I actually got a commission for a framed piece during the course of the opening evening.  As a result of this I decided to spend Monday and Tuesday working and finishing some more wall pieces, I framed them yesterday morning at Grennan and two of the four sold during the day, actions speak louder than words sometimes!

Today I spent a lovely time at Carmen’s with her and an Argentinian fibre friend Patricia, we started with a big breakfast, felted all morning, had a delicious stew for lunch and then stuffed ourselves on pancakes before more fibre related fun in the afternoon!!!  Getting totally away from vessels and seascapes for the day I planned and felted a large wrap using some of the beautiful silk my Auburn friend Merridee dyed for me at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA recently.  This was an experiment using the tumble dryer method, a technique I want to work on further before offering it as an option for workshops but this might be a good time to say that it entails NO rubbing or rolling making it perfect for larger projects and anyone who might find the methodology of traditional nuno a little time-consuming or dare I say it even boring!  I would like to stress though that I don’t find rubbing and rolling boring, relaxing and therapeutic would be my personal take on this process but I suppose it’s horses for courses isn’t it and who doesn’t want to make a larger piece but with a lot of the effort removed and in a fraction of the time???  I’m not going to blog further about this method until I have fine tuned my timing but I will definitely include a couple of projects in the next book Chrissie and I are publishing (nuno clothing, out before Christmas!), for now here is a picture of todays finished wrap.

Nuno felt wrap

Sea Shapes, the first pictures and reflections from setting up the exhibition

Looking back over the pictures I have taken over the last few days during the set up and start of the exhibition it is obvious that I need to take some more because my phone/camera is having some difficulty adjusting to the whiteness and the light in the space.  I am however, just going to post a few here today to give you a little idea of what I have been up to and share what the atmosphere is now like in the room.

Walls and radiator prior to filling and painting, no lights fitted yet

Each of the 6 artists exhibiting in Grennan Craft Mill were allocated their space approx 2 years ago (there  is now a 4 year waiting list to exhibit here for the festival!) and for me the room I am in is the perfect size for my felt, not too big and not too small, it serves as the students dining room during the teaching year.  All the levels of the mill were painted prior to the students show in June at the end of their  two year course which meant that the paint on the walls was fresh.  I did need to remove nails and screws etc. from where paintings had been hung and as well as filling and painting the resultant holes etc. I decided to paint the radiator as it definitely looked grubby and took away from the freshness of the white walls.  Usually I mix up my own filler when doing any repair jobs but for ease of convienience and in an effort to get everything done in time for the weekend I bought a ready made tube of a propriatory brand only to discover once I was using it the paste was grey and not white.  Hmmm, it did dry in 5 minutes as it promised but unfortunately needed several coats of paint in order to hide the underlying colour therefore meaning more time after all, you live and learn but it definitely didn’t say on the outside that the paste was not white, I checked!

Radiator painted, walls and plinths finished, lights installed

Once I was happy with the walls and the radiator I painted another couple of coats onto Eileen’s plinths and then was ready for Alan’s help setting up the spotlights.  Really he did a great job, SO many people have been asking about the lighting, we used little spotlights on a simple industrial looking silver track, the lights can be positioned anywhere on the track but our difficulty was that we were restricted to the length that actually came in the box!  A lot of thought later, positioning the black transformer and wiring in the kitchen, running new white flex around the roof etc. we got everything sorted to our satisfication, it was 11.40 at night before we left that night but definitely this work has made a big difference to the overall feel of the room and how the felt may be viewed.

To complete the set up I added a lightweight white and blue curtain to cover the kitchen door and Kilkenny Arts Festival provided very nice posters for us to use as part of our publicity materials.  I added one to the door of my room beside where I have my name, interestingly the door is painted orange and the colours in the poster are mainly turquoise, two of the highlight colours from my felt vessels!  A simple jug of miscanthus and teasels on the radiator, business cards, festival brochures, book for comments, price list and my artist statement finished the room.

Entrance to Sea Shapes

Reflections on the opening weekend and more pictures to follow next post.