Thursday 30 March 2017

Fabric of Place - Reeth & Swaledale

On a beautiful day at the weekend, I travelled up to Reeth to investigate what was going on in the Fabric of Place project and to make some string with Joanne B Kaar.  I have seen some of Joanne's work before at the Pittenweem Art Festival in 2015 and you can read about it here

Joanne B Kaar

The Fabric of Place project is a community based project looking at Reeth and Swaledale and the relationship the communities have with the place they live.  It's a two year Slow Art project.  Slow Art is a movement to help people look at and love art without being an expert and to unlock their passion & creativity.  This project has three artists in residence.  Joanne, who is leading the project, is a fibre artist and weaver of grass and is inspired by place, the natural environment and history and has a lot of experience working with communties through artist residencies.  The other artists involved are Serena Partridge, a visual artist working largely with textiles and stitch and Graham Taylor, a potter.

New Zealand flax and nail brush to shred the flax, dried fibres, dampened fibres ready for string making

On the day your could make string with Joanne, felt with Serena or add to Graham's Green Man.  I chose to make string with Joanne.  She told us how to collect and dry our stems, the need to dampen them before beginning to make the fibres more pliable, and how to twist the fibres together to make string.  Joanne comes from the north of Scotland and has a large garden and so has a wealth of plant fibres to choose from for her making.  She told us that she would be harvesting daffodil stems next - once the flowers had gone.  I hadn't thought of daffodils as being suitable but was pleased they were.  I live in a city with a garden the size of a postage stamp and about the only thing readily available to me at the moment is daffodils - so I shall look forward to trying them out!

My ball of string

I made about 1.25 metres of string - here's what it looks like wound up into a little ball.  And I'm looking forward to making more with my daffodil stems!

Jig mitt made using Oslo stitch & boots made using Coppergate stitch

Once the string is made, Joanne uses the nalbinding ("needle binding") technique to make items.  This predates knitting and crochet and although more ancient still, was popular with the Vikings.  It involves using short pieces of yarn or fibre as the whole length must be pulled through the loops made.  Joanne has used this technique to make her trig mitt and her boots which were on display.  The boots illustrate Coppergate stitch which first seen in the Viking "Coppergate sock" found in York.

Serena Partridge - Gauntlet Glove & Other Work

Although Serena was making felt at the workshop, she had brought some of her beautiful work to show.  I loved the miniature gloves...
Serena Partridge - Gloves

Graham, who does a lot of work with heritage institutions making replica pots, was working with folk to complete a Green Man plaque...

Graham Taylor - Green Man - work in progress

The project, which has been developed by Chrysalis Arts Development, is in its infancy.  Joanne has started looking at lichens, present in both Swaledale and her native Caithness.  Lichens are very slow growing - very suitable for slow art!  Artwork may include the mapping of lichens and making clothing inspired by lichens.  Whatever the artists and the community decide on, the outcome will be an touring exhibition in late 2018 which will consist of community artwork and the artists' artwork displayed together.  I can't wait to see it!

Work on lichens has begun - Joanne B Kaar

It was a really interesting afternoon.  If you live in Swaledale do get involved!

Click here for the Facebook link and here for the Twitter link.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for featuring joanne's community based work here. i've been following her work for some time and love reading your impressions of working with her.