Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our fundraiser 'Postcard SEA' was an overwhelming success - we made £4532.88 for Brough Bay Association and Castletown Heritage Society

Visit our fundraiser website to see all 204 postcard size artworks inspired by the sea that were donated by the artists then sold by secret silent auction - artists names have been revealed!!!  Thank you all.   www.postcardsea.blogspot.com 

Friday, July 4, 2014

3rd July - Skirza House near Freswick Caithness

 A sunny day out to Skirza, to see their Magellan Daisy in full bloom.  There's even a few whale bones outside the house, but sadly no connection with South America or Caithness whalers.
Click here for more info on the history of Skirza House.

And the photo below is of  'Happy Harry' - always smiling, what's left of a Christmas dinner!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Naked Craft

My proposal for the exhibition 'Naked Craft' has been accepted.  I will be one of 40 makers (20 from Scotland and 20 from Canada) taking part.  The exhibition is due to open in Canada in early 2015.
 This is what I will be making:
Journeys over land, sea and through time.
A centuries old technique lost to both Scottish and Canadian shores , re-emerged in the hands of Angus MacPhee, a crofter from South Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland.  Angus spent almost 50 years in Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital in Inverness. During this time he chose not to speak - instead he made a series of incredible costumes out of grass. These he hung on trees in the hospital grounds.
Joyce Laing, the first art-therapist in Scotland, visited the psychiatric hospitals in search of ‘raw’ art, discovering Angus in the 1970’s.  She visited him over 20 years, saving some of his work for the Art Extraordinary Trust in Pittenweem Fife.  Angus became known as ‘the weaver of grass’. When Craig Dunain closed and care in the community was started, Angus went home 1996, he died a year later, taking with him the mystery of why and how and he made the grass garments. 
The grass ‘weavings’ made by Angus were now old and fragile, and Joyce wanted replicas to be made, before the originals were lost completely. In 2011 I visited  Joyce, and with the help of my husband Joe,  who made a sketch of the construction by  looking at a patch of more open weave, and the information from Joyce with her first had experience of seeing Angus work, I made notes and took measurements in my sketchbook.   
Angus had combined the techniques of traditional rope or simmans making he would have learnt as a crofter, with a construction technique which had long since died out with the Vikings – needle-binding, which pre-dates knitting.
The basic technique of nalbinding (also known as Looping - knotless netting - weaving without foundation and Vattarsaumur ) involves making a loop and feeding all of your yarn through it to make the next loop. This means you will have to work with short lengths of yarn, adding more as required. This description also fits the technique one once used by Angus MacPhee 'weaver' of grass to make garments. Angus used the materials he had available, mostly grasses and sometimes wool which he collected from the barbed fence of the hospital farm fields.  Because of the materials he used, most of his work is chunky and large.  The Vikings also used materials they had available for needle-binding – wool.  A very slow process which makes a dense fabric, they used it to make mostly gloves and socks.
My research took me to Iceland where I was invited by Freja Hlidkvist Omarsdottir, Curator of Collections at The National Museum Of Iceland to take a closer look at the only glove found in Iceland from the Viking times made using the needle-binding technique is kept. 
According to the sagas, Icelandic Viking, Leif Eriksson discovered  North America, but it wasn’t until the 1960, proof of Vikings in North America came to light at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada during excavations when Icelandic- style house foundations and Norse artefacts were found. Vikings  had indeed landed, and briefly settled, in North America 500 years before Columbus.
It is this connection to our shared past, emerging through Angus MacPhee and his  extraordinary imagination and creativity using only his hands and local materials that I would like to explore contemporary ‘weavings’ using Juncus effusus (soft rush) which grows in abundance on my own field on Dunnet Head,  and in Canada, to make a series of socks, each with a different feel to them – some dense like the Viking techniques and others more open ‘weave’ like Angus MacPhees work. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Shetland Island of Yell from April to the end of June 2014!

My portable museum of curiosity inspired by Robert Dick the baker and botanist of Thurso is currently on loan  from Caithness Horizons Museum in Thurso to The Centre For Creative Industries on the Shetland Isle of Yell for 3 months. 
If you would like to borrow it, do contact Caithness Horizons Museum Thurso.  http://www.caithnesshorizons.co.uk/


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Nalbinding - building on last years research in Iceland - work in progress - sock made from combed soft-rush. Start of a series of socks I'll be making using a variety of nalbinding and looping techniques in soft-rush - this sock is my size and home grown.

The sock will be longer, and perhaps I'll add a thin red band along the top edge, a nod to the only nalbinding sock found in the UK - at York, the Coppergate sock. 
naalbinding   nålbinding    naalebinding  Nålebinding  knotless netting, knotless knitting,  single needle knitting, looping, weaving without foundation,  vattarsaumur , nõeltehnika, tkanie igłą ,   вязание иглой

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thar she blows.

Click here to see lots more photos of the portable museum on my flickr. 

Mystery of the Magellan Daisy  and whalers.

A Portable Museum of Curiosity.
Designed and made by Joanne & Joe Kaar.
Sound with thanks to Bob Pegg.
This is what you hear inside the box:


Monday, January 27, 2014

Portable Museum - layout for large flat fold out - Magellan Daisy and Caithness Whalers mystery

Mystery of Magellan Daisy and Caithness Whalers - progress on my portable museum of curiosity

Layers of enamel paint age the once shiny metal box.
Side panels are now printed on canvas and in place with black canvas edging.
Drawer labels also printed onto canvas.
still lots to do. I'm thinking about thick hemp rope to coil up and fill the gap above the drawers.


There's still lots to do - but it's starting to look like I imagined it.