photos by Alan Dimmick 

 
The Kildas exhibition is now installed at Glasgow School of Art until 28th February.  
I will be doing a lunch time talk on Monday 22 February 2016, 13:15-14:00Bourdon lecture theatre, Bourdon building, 167 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, G3 6RQ
In an illustrated talk Deirdre Nelson will present her journey to The Kildas of Scotland, New Zealand and Australia and introduce the ‘saints’ met along the way. As a textile artist Deirdre explored new ways of working through jewellery techniques . Her research, processes and materials will be explored in a humourous talk of her 2014 Commonwealth project. 
All welcome, no need to book.


The Kildas will be on exhibit from 19th January to 4 February at the Reid Building Glasgow School of Art . More information HERE 

The two names of the island group Hirte and St Kilda, have aroused discussion and controversy for over 200 years and much studying of maps and books can be done to investigate their origins. There are many myths surrounding the origins of the name St Kilda but one fact is clear. There is no ‘Saint’ Kilda.

On a modern day pilgrimage in search of ‘Saint’ Kilda, I travelled to the St Kildas of Scotland, Australia and New Zealand. The resulting works reward and celebrate ‘saints’ met along the way. Silver Coins from Scotland, Australia and New Zealand have been repurposed into medals. These are combined with wool from each St Kilda region (from Soay and merino sheep) and Kildas sand embedded in bio resin. The ongoing project links both past and present, north and south and the people who inhabit the Kildas. The exhibition will travel to Comar on the Isle of Mull, Glasgow School of Art and Barony Centre West Kilbride.

The Kildas was part of the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. The Cultural Programme is a partnership between the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life and Creative Scotland




This is a story of an archipelago named for a saint who didn't exist, which became the prison of a woman whose funeral preceded her death, who gave her name to a boat which sank after sailing to a nation that hadn't been born and whose first inhabitants it didn’t acknowledge. A ship of fools, maybe. A ship of storytellers…The islands were named for the non existent saint; the woman for the islands; the boat for the woman, and 2 suburbs in distant parts of the Commonwealth were named for the boat.

These islands, these suburbs, these stories are spun from three of the six St Kildas on earth. Each is a real place of stone and sea, a place where indigenous languages shaped to their landscapes were eroded by a rising tide of English. And each is simultaneously a fabrication: misnamed for something that came before it; a progressively receding echo of an error which carried a myth on currents that bore the Scottish diaspora away from home during the Clearances of the 19th century.

It's made by weavers of textile, song and sound, and the form it takes here tonight is just one of the many forms it's taken over thousands of years. History is an unbroken current of material and energy flows, and in those flows vortices sometimes form and these spinning cycles, these Kildas, these loops in time, have a structure which is complex, ubiquitous, beautiful, temporary and true.

The world spins. We spin. Migrating seabirds like the Arctic tern loop the spinning world. On St Kilda, men with loops or snares caught seabirds on the high cliffs and stacs. Loops of wool made socks and sweaters, with patterns, like tunes, carried from island to island, in Gaelic bho ghlùin gu glùin, from knee to knee. Knitted things pass like stories from person to person, like fishing nets, hand over hand, constantly maintained, mended, adapted - navigational lines linking place to place, and bringing us home again.

The word 'yarn' is connected to the Old Norse garn or gut. There are 74 Gaelic words for yarn and the winding of yarn. Human beings have been spinning yarn from fibre for 20,000 years, spinning yarns from their guts for at least as long, binding meaning into their lives by looping the past into the present, the world within into the world beyond. Wherever we are on earth, there's a St Kilda behind us and a St Kilda ahead; mythical St Kildas we have brought into being collaboratively, through acts of place-making. Stories extend us, they strengthen and connect us; they propel our migrations and loop us back into the places we've left behind'

Ruth Little


www.thekildas.com 



Data, sea, sign and song. 
Sleeping Starfish at The Glad Cafe 15th October. ( work in progress event) 

Many thanks to everyone who came along to The Glad Cafe  for Sleeping Starfish (a work in progress event in collaboration with Inge Thomson.) Kerri Whiteside of Flora and Fauna Scotland spoke to us about Marine Protection, I presented recent work exploring bird data and knit and experimented with creating an animated backdrop for Inges performance.  The projection played with ideas of graphs, coastlines and knitting patterns. Inge Thomson and Fraser Fifield performed beautiful new music + all was BSL signed by Karen Forbes. 







'Sleeping Starfish is a work of environmental advocacy and a love song to an island and its waters and its people. A couple of weeks ago Deirdre steered me to a talk by the writer Taiye Selasi on identity and belonging. ‘How can I come from a country?’ she asked. ‘How can a human being come from a concept?’



Fair Isle is not a concept, it’s a place. A place of elemental forces and ragged boundaries, unprotected from fog, wind and storm, but equally uninsulated from the actual rhythms and processes of this world. You can love the concept of a nation, but you can only know a nation through its real places and people – through embodied relationship, through a sense of place, through intimacy with its patterns. ‘My experience’, said Taiye Selasi, ‘is where I’m from.’



Fair Isle’s patterns are changing – there are new arrivals in its waters, new absences from its stacs and skies. But there is always a thread on Fair Isle that knits sea to land and land to mind and body in tradition, in memory and in practice. Resilience – that most coveted attribute in our times – means adaptive capacity; maintaining identity despite change. It’s a learned skill, and it lies in relationship. These makers and maintainers share their experience of island resilience, so that, tonight, we can all be from Fair Isle.;

Ruth Little 2015 

Listen in to BBC Culture Show ( 38 mins in ) 


Surrounded by a relentless sea, Fair Isle is an island of strong traditions and fierce beauty. Celebrating this, and running in support of the island's bid for marine protected status, two artists are knitting together waves of sound and yarn, stories and starfish. The project also celebrates creative generations of Inges family through stories, music and knit. Exploring coding and counting, both Inge and myself have been exploring the craft and ecology of Fair Isle. 

Inspired by the many aspects of data counting on Fair Isle, I am counting birds and stitches and translating bird counts into knitting patterns.  The work is experimental at this stage but I hope to develop work which will become part of Inges performance.
 
Sleeping Starfish will present a work in progress event. ( as part of Luminate Festival)  7 pm Glad Cafe . Inge Thomson, Frazer Fifield, Kerri Whiteside  Deirdre Nelson,



I am curently in Fair Isle and have spent the last two days with collaborator Inge Thomson.  Although I have been to the island before, it's been a real privilege to be on the isle with Inge and to experience the island with her.  Last year  I had the opportunity to travel to Fair Isle with writer Ruth Little, film maker Andy Crabb, writer and actor Peter Cutts and photographer Jennifer Wilcox as part of the Sea Change project with Capefarewell.  Inspirations gathered on that trip have been blogged here 


This year I return to continue my research and refine ideas in a collaboration with Inge Thomson. Inge has been experimenting with translating the coding and pattern of Fair Isle knitting into sound and I have been very interested in the colour and softness of landscape, ecology and waters of Fair Isle.   Gut weed coating the edges of the rock, graphs of bird sightings and sonagrams of seabirds are providing lots of ideas in digital print and stitch. 

Fair Isle's maritime environment is very rich, both at the natural environment and human community level. The two aspects are inextricably linked and a threat to the first has serious implications for the second. The Fair Isle community has witnessed an erosion of that richness and is concerned that, without concerted action, the resource will be devalued or lost.

Fair Isle has a wide range of maritime attributes and issues which are important and deserve urgent measures for these assets to be safeguarded. The Fair Isle Marine Environment and Tourism Initiative (FIMETI) was set up by the people of Fair Isle to help achieve this.

In 2012the Fair Isle community presented a petition to the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee asking for the Council of Europe Diploma condition that - Fair Isle waters should be designated a Marine Protected Area -  be honoured and implemented. 
The island is now being considered by the Scottish Government as a Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (MPA). In 2014, we still await the outcome.   Fimeti. 






Inge Thomson dips hydrophones into the water at Gunglesund

We will be presenting a work in progress event 15th October 2015 at The Glad Cafe in Glasgow. 


photograph by Robin Gillanders 

The costume is now complete for Sing Sign in collaboration with Hanna Tuulikki. for the upcoming performance of Sign Sign in Edinburgh Arts Festival 2015

Inspired by a map of Edinburgh, Hannas graphic drawing of the Royal Mile has been digitally printed onto Tyvek to form a scroll down the front of the costume. In addition 
 collars and cuffs, on loan from National Trust of Scotland, have inspired exagerated Tyvek collars. These decorate felt Baroque inspired coats. Flashes of gold and lace can be seen in pleats and cuffs.  


The performance and installation.

"SING SIGN: a close duet is a vocal and gestural suite devised for the historic ‘closes’ of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. In these confined medieval spaces two performers present a playful Baroque scenario. Their face-to-face encounter is also relayed in a film installation, at Gladstone’s Land 30 July – 30 August .  

Composed and choreographed in response to a street-map dating from 1765, the street layout provides a visual score. The music takes the form of a wordless hocket (a musical device where the melody is split between two voices), divided between the singers in accordance with the closes, as they branch off from the arterial high street. T­he choreography spells out street names, in a back-and-forth progression, weaving together British Sign Language, mimetic hand gesture, and exaggerated body language.

Reflecting on the nature of dialogue and bringing together the seemingly opposed forms of singing and signing, Tuulikki explores the diverse, non-sensical ways in which we experience the city, immersed in sensory data, and mediated by the language(s) we have access to."

SING/SIGN is performed by Daniel Padden and Hanna Tuulikki, and developed with Deirdre Nelson (costume), Karen Forbes (British Sign Language choreography), Daniel Warren (film), Pete Smith (sound), Robin Gillanders (photography).



Via Edinburgh Arts Festival 




Its time to handover the Helmsdale tablecloth.  I had an exciting day this week battling with winds in a photoshoot with Eoin Carey. Inspired by his recent project Washing Lines , we headed up a hill with the tablecloth and washing line posts and battled a little with wind and rain. Despite this Eoin got some great results which place the Map tablecloth  and Inventory of Making t-towels in the environment.  



This weekend celebrates the finale of Creative Place and Serendipitous North residencies with Timespan Museum and Arts Centre in Helmsdale. I will hand over the tablecloth to the community and allow it to develop a life of its own , being adapted and changed over time. A set of T-towels printed with an Inventory of Making have been completed and will be for sale in Timespans shop. 










There is so much to update as its been a busy time recently but the first bit of news is that I have been collaborating with Hanna Tuulikki on costumes for Sing Sign which will be an installation and performance in Edinburgh Arts Festival 2015.
Inspired by a map of Edinburgh, Hannas graphic drawing of the Royal Mile has been digitally printed onto Tyvek to form a scroll down the front of the costume.  In addition exagerated Tyvek collars decorate felt Baroque inspired coats and flashes of gold and lace can be seen in  pleats and cuffs.

SING SIGN: a close duet is a vocal and gestural suite devised for the historic ‘closes’ of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. In these confined medieval spaces two performers present a playful Baroque scenario. Their face-to-face encounter is also relayed in a film installation, at Gladstone’s Land.

Composed and choreographed in response to a street-map dating from 1765, the street layout provides a visual score. The music takes the form of a wordless hocket (a musical device where the melody is split between two voices), divided between the singers in accordance with the closes, as they branch off from the arterial high street. T­he choreography spells out street names, in a back-and-forth progression, weaving together British Sign Language, mimetic hand gesture, and exaggerated body language.

Reflecting on the nature of dialogue and bringing together the seemingly opposed forms of singing and signing, Tuulikki explores the diverse, non-sensical ways in which we experience the city, immersed in sensory data, and mediated by the language(s) we have access to.

SING/SIGN is performed by Daniel Padden and Hanna Tuulikki, and developed with Deirdre Nelson (costume), Karen Forbes (British Sign Language choreography), Daniel Warren (film), Pete Smith (sound), Robin Gillanders (photography)



photo shoot with Robin Gillanders







m a p MAKING

Serendipitous North residency at Timespan Museum and arts centre

‘in my view, what continues to distinguish the crafts, to make them highly visible , is the care with which they have been made , the fact that they have been made by one human being for another , the individual take , the use of materials and the thoughtfulness of their design: design with attitude. And yes, the patient mastery of technique until it becomes second nature. The crafts have become a wide range of possibilities, a spectrum and the more inclusive and varied and versatile the better’
Christopher Frayling.  The power of Making. V& A Publishing and Crafts Council . Edited by Daniel Charney 

Rather than focusing solely on craft as a studio practice , I am more interested in Making in everyday lives and in exploring the often hidden making that goes on, those activities which are often not considered creative or artistic.  The m a p MAKING project celebrates all types of making and mending in Helmsdale and explores places of making from  armchairs to  kitchen tables, sheds and crofts. I have been spotting ‘making’ in the village and documenting objects made through photography. This provides a beautiful visual resource of the making activity of the village.  In addition an Inventory of making has been created which lists making I have discovered over my time here. This will highlight just how much creative activity goes on in the village and provides an entertaining read listing everything from loom bands to jam to 3D printed sheep!  Word of each discovery is also put out there in the making world through twitter @map_MAKING. This links Helsmdale to the wider Making community.

“All of us can make. It is one of the strongest of human impulses and one of the most significant means of human expression. To some, making is the fountain that releases creative ideas; to others, making is about participating in society as well as defining personal identity. To most of those who make, though, it is likely that they do not think of it as creative activity. It is their way of making a living- an absolute necessity. The power of making, from the height of luxurious freedom to the depth of deprivation, is that it is something that people do.
While for some people making is critical for survival , for others it is a way of learning . And maybe also a way of defying conventions, enjoying life or solving its problems. Making serves other needs too. It allows people to care for loved ones, worship, mourn, celebrate or demonstrate. It is a way of exercising free will.
Though intentions and conditions vary, all makers participate in the unique human experience that comes from being completely engrossed in creative activity. Being ‘in the zone’ is felt by a four- year- old as much as by a seasoned master”
Daniel Charney The power of Making. V& A Publishing and Crafts Council . Edited by Daniel Charney 

Woodies and Knitwits
Over time I have been discovering all the fixing and making which goes on modestly behind closed doors. Spending time with established Making groups such as the Helmsdale Woodlanders and the Knitwits knitting group also  have been inspiring.  The ‘Woodies’ are ‘a group of highly motivated and, it has to be said, eccentric volunteers learning the arts of traditional woodland management and greenwood skills, meeting on a regular basis and having a laugh as well as doing some hard graft’. The knitwits are a knitting club who meet each Tuesday to work on both individual and communal projects also. Some of the group are also working on the Diaspora Tapestry  which links with other stitchers worldwide. There is much more to be discovered and my time on the residency is short but hopefully the project will provide a snapshot of how Helmsdale and many other villages are often undiscovered creative places.


Putting Helmsdale on the m a p

council estates


Exploring maps in the archive I came across a map from 1907 which had been adjusted (in biro pen ) to add later buildings to the town.  I began to think of how villages grow and change over time and that maps only provide a static moment in time.  I developed ideas around a community map tablecloth which could remain in the village long after my residency and could be adjusted or added to through stitch. This would provide a map which would evolve through time and making and something useful for a very active community.
I worked on the map digitally and this was printed at Centre for Advanced Textiles at Glasgow School of Art.  Julia Jappy the local tailoress finished the edges beautifully to make a tablecloth. The tablecloth has been to Thyme and Plaice café, the community centre and P7 at the local school have even added a few herring and salmon to the waters of Helsmdale.


drawing on map


Have a look at the Inventory of MAKING in Helmsdale 

I basket
2 pairs of adults knitted slippers
2 spoons
2 walking sticks one short one long
Knitted socks
Knitted hats
1 jar of wild garlic and walnut pesto
Rowan jelly
Loom bands
Papermache deer heads
Rowan  wedding platters
Noble Fir 3 legged stool
I white crochet blanket
4 3d printed sheep
Steak pies
Greenwood compost toilet  in progress
70 delegate badges
I pair of curtains
Crabapple and blackcurrant jam
I cardboard prototype Viking helmet
3d printed Venus de Milo
3d printed Lief Errickson
Sausages
3D printed Japanese theatre mask
3 Victoria sponges
1 powerpoint on Monastic North
Scones
Elderlower wine
Childs socks
1 knitted hotwater bottle cover in progress
3D printed gold sheep
Pulled pork
Model remote car
Fishing flies
Box for archival tissue paper
I cardigan