Stitching an Irish landscape

Greetings! Been a while since I’ve posted. I have come back from a long-awaited trip to Ireland for a bit of a holiday and to complete work for my Arts Council project. I’m busy creating separate stories of my skills work and the sculpture which is about to be shipped, but in the meanwhile I thought I’d show you some of the scenery through photos and a stitched piece that has become two small vessels. I have become a little captivated by the notion of chawan – Chinese and Japanese tea bowls, and the larger of the two bowls is roughly the size of one. I enjoy the notions behind the ritual ceremony and wanted to make something that echoed holding friendship and landscape in my hand. Here they are, and the unfolding story behind them:

Loop Head is a special area in Clare – a peninsula separating the Shannon estuary and the Atlantic. It is rural, wild and expansive. I stayed with two great friends and travelled with another. Kim’s house looks out over fields and bays and every morning we sat with our drinks chatting and watching the sun come up.

The beaches are wonderful, the wind brings in all sorts and the seaweed formations were utterly captivating and rather ‘other-worldly’. This capture the light, the sea and waves and the undulations of the weed sculptures:

Krys’s house is on the other side of the peninsula and is a tiny walk away from the coastline at the widest part of the Shannon. Her house also stands in wide space amongst fields and hedgerows. Out the back is lush green, with willow trees and a vegetable patch. You will see more of the willow when I post some of my Arts Council work.

The Loop Head area has small harbours and bays dotted along the coastline which is really know for its spectacular cliiffs. I love the salt- rusted, time-worn textures and this is a scrumptious part of a harbour post:

Inside Krys’s house is full of intrigue. Her house is filled with so many artworks, models, figures and assemblages that it takes a day to take it all in! So colours that I associate with being in this private landscape ended my daily stitching.

For me, hand-stitching cements memory. It’s something I have started to do more and more of. It’s an intimate, deeply personal act that grounds you in a moment and when viewed, takes you back instantly to a place or circumstance. I think many use sketchbooks to do the same, but hand-stitching is much, much slower and let’s time soak in and whisper around the work. This is the strip I came home with, it started as a whim, something to do. It wasn’t important, but by the time I was a little along the cloth, it had started ‘becoming’. Sometimes you just need to start a thing to see if it ends up ‘being’. I said at the start, there is something about vessels that resonates deeply with me and holding these now as small forms encompasses the other element of my stay, that of deep friendship and shared experience.

My Arts Council work is almost ready to share, and the sculpture is being shipped, so stay in touch to hear about them soon!

23 thoughts on “Stitching an Irish landscape

  1. Beautiful writing once again and many lovely sentiments expressed revealing a deeper meaning and engagement with your beautiful work.

      1. Do you offer any kind of class on how to learn to make your bowls?
        I’m obviously sooooo impressed by them!

      2. They take such a long time to hand-stitch all over that I have never made it into a class. The process is fairly simple though: They are made really simply actually, find a background cloth no bigger than 25cms square , add your snippets and tack down, spend time handstitching all over then I chop them up into small rectangles!
        Turn over the tops and stitch, stitch down the side then snip around bottom and run thread through each part to gather them in and stitch until they lie flat. They are so small they don’t require stiffening etc. You will lose a bit of stitch around tops and bottoms in the process of making so try and get your favourite parts in the middles, or just leave to serendipity! 🙂
        You might want to make a bottom for them, I’m just thinking about whether to to do that to make them stand better. Hope this helps! 😊

      3. thank you so much…..I will give it a whirl…or…a stitch!!!
        your colors and textures are fantastic……I can appreciate the “labor of love” you put into them!

  2. I’ve loved this post for its sensitive writing and for all the glorious colours in your responsive work and the photos you’ve taken. I’m excited to see your Arts Council project and am already tingling seeing these pieces and your ‘whim’ cloth. I used to love hand stitching sea inspired pieces but my hands get too sore now so I paints sea inspired work instead. The west coast of Ireland, like the west coast of the UK, is soooo beautiful and dramatic.

  3. Scenes to nourish the artist’s soul, wrapped around with the joys of friendship – inspirational writing and stitching, thank you so much for sharing it all with your readers.

  4. the vessels are wonder-full … but I especially appreciated the telling of how your cloth holds memory … the juxtaposition of photos and stitching, along with the telling of the tale, is masterful …

  5. I’m captivated by your story. I’m trying to develop my own textile artistic style, which essentially has to be small-scale. I’m consumed with the idea of interpreting memories. I need, also, to go to Ireland to see the home of my grandfather in Cork and to find family still living there. It’s on my list!

    1. Thank you. I wish you all the best finding your ‘voice’, the creative path is something I’m really interested in, and helping others to do the same. It sounds as if that would be a trip that might be quite profound for you. I do hope you can travel there soon.

  6. This beautiful post resonates at so many levels. I make yunomi chawan, am just getting into textile vessels, and will be attending an art course in Ireland, later this year.
    Your work is wonderful and inspiring. Thank you!

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