September has been a busy and exciting month in contemporary textile art (specifically felting art) in Ireland so I thought I would feature what I got up to, I will call it my September Adventures.
Weather wise, the month started as we hoped it would continue (it didn’t by the way) with a return to fine warm weather – something we had not seen since last June. So I took the opportunity to visit our National Botanical Gardens (https://www.botanicgardens.ie/) which are situated on Dublin’s north side. The gardens (there’s free entry, if you ever visit Dublin, Ireland) opened in 1800 and are an oasis of calm with restored glass houses, magnificent specimens, bee hives and, of course, a tea room. There’s also a pedestrian access to the historical cemetery next door which I suspect is not seen too often. Glasnevin Cemetery also houses a genealogical archive for anyone wishing to trace their Irish ancestors (https://www.dctrust.ie/genealogy/home.html).
But, I digress. Let’s go back to the gardens. My visit coincided with their annual exhibition ‘Sculpture in Context’. The exhibits feature artworks in various media including ceramics, wood, metal. I decided to focus purely on the textile element of the exhibition and to photograph any pieces I came across as I wandered around. I was aware that some of the members of Feltmakers Ireland had pieces accepted for the exhibition; Clare Merry (http://www.merryland.ie/index.htm) an exceptional artist who quietly creates her pieces was featured. If you would like to see some of Clare’s work please check out her website, which, she tells me, is not really up to date, or Google her and feast over the images; Fiona Leech (https://www.instagram.com/feltathome/?hl=en) had three beautiful pots which were originally housed in the cactus house. Annoyingly two of the three pots were stolen within a matter of hours of their arrival and the remaining one was moved to a safer spot in the garden’s gallery. I thought I would show you the three pots as they were originally grouped together.
I searched but could not find Leiko Uchiyama’s beautiful work but here is a link to her website if you would like to check her out: https://www.leikofelt.com/my-felt-work/ I found two other exhibits from members of the guild. Their featured work while not through the medium of felt were equally stunning. Congratulations Mel Bradley (https://melbradleysilks.ie/) and Mette Sophie Roche (https://metteroche.com/)
I put together a slideshow of my textile finds in the gardens which I hope you enjoy.
We had our first meeting after summer in Feltmakers Ireland and as usual the committee put an incredible amount of preparatory work into making it successful. It was a busy morning as everyone beavered away felting flowers to create a tapestry as part of the 20th anniversary celebration for the guild. Much to everyone’s delight, the guild’s founder Elizabeth Bonnar joined us. I thought I would feature Elizabeth here as without her it is doubtful that there would be such a vibrant community of feltmakers today. Here she is with her granddaughter and with the committee.
Here are some photos taken on the day.
The finished tapestry was revealed at Feltmakers Ireland ‘Bountiful’ juried exhibition which opened on 30th September.
The exhibition also saw the launch of the new book “Exploring Irish Wool for Feltmaking” The book is the product of a collaboration between many members of Feltmakers Ireland guild, sheep farmers, shepherds, shearers and suppliers and not forgetting the various washers and carders who took the raw fleeces, converting them into usable fibres for testing. I think this approach was quite unique and it will certainly be a worthwhile and useable addition to any textile maker’s reference library. Understandably it was a huge project so congratulations are due to all, especially Annika (Berglund), Breda (Fay) and Sinead (Doyle) who collated all of the findings into an invaluable resource on Irish wool. It’s so full of well written practical advice and it was made extra special by the presence of one of our Government Ministers, Pippa Hackett an ardent supporter of the project, who officially launched the book and the exhibition . Here is a quick look at the contents page to give you an idea of the scope of the book:
An added bonus is that feltmakers/wool artists can now make direct contact with numerous artisanal suppliers so there is no excuse for any of us not buying closer to source and of course for anyone overseas who wishes to use Irish wool fibre in their work purchasing from source.
It is available to purchase from the following link and I understand will also be available in eBook format shortly: https://feltmakersireland.com/exploring-irish-wool-for-feltmaking/
I hope you have enjoyed my September adventures. It has been an exciting month. Once again I would like to thank Feltmakers Ireland and their hard working committee who work tirelessly to maintain this vibrant community – it makes such a difference that, as textile artists, we can gather together and create regularly. I take my hat off to Elizabeth Bonnar and her decision to found Feltmakers Ireland twenty years ago; the catalyst for lifelong friendships, masterclasses, collaborations, exhibitions, networks and travel.
To complete September’s birthday celebrations, I thought I would produce a slideshow of the Bountiful exhibition which is running for the month of October in Phoenix Park, Dublin Ireland. I took photos on the day so I apologise where the light may be shining on the artwork. There are over 30 pieces of art and it will give you an indication of where Ireland’s vibrant felting community is at in its journey. I hope you enjoy it!