Monday, February 8, 2016


This is a collaborative project between the Craft Council Of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Intangible Cultural Heritage arm of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Start Date: February 24, 2016 at 9:30 AM
End Date: February 24, 2016
Where: Manuels River Interpretation Centre, CBS


Humanity is in love with storytelling. Our brain tells us stories as we sleep and our fingers create them in all that we make.Explore how craft can tell a cultural story and how makers and visitor destination sites can make use of craft to enhance the visitor’s experience.
An exciting and instructive session for museums, heritage sites and craft makers, this session will offer insight into how craft can tell a cultural story and how makers and visitor destination sites can make use of craft to enhance the visitor’s experience.
Keynote speaker: Joanne B. Kaar, Caithness, Scotland.

‘Keen to learn traditional skills, research local stories, learn about conservation and care of objects, I enjoy finding inventive ways to attract new audiences while adding new information to museum artefacts of which little is known.’
Joanne has used traditional craft skills and objects, as well as contemporary interpretations to tell the cultural stories of Scotland. Learn how Joanne has used the artefacts, histories and people in heritage sites to inspire innovative constructions that encapsulate the story.
Keynote speaker: Dr. Pam Hall, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Knitting Knowledge—Hooking Home
Pam Hall will share her ongoing collaborative art-and-knowledge project- Towards an Encyclopedia of Local Knowledge.  Made in partnership with over a hundred and fifty community knowledge-holders in more than 30 rural and coastal Newfoundland communities, the Encyclopedia reveals a diverse range of vernacular knowledge practices that are embedded in place and help to make it home.
Fishing, hunting, food gathering, growing and preservation—ecological, physical and material ways of knowing—ways of making and mending, of crafting and being crafty—are all revealed and shared in this project. It tells multiple stories about multiple knowledge practice and hopes to open dialogues about how we know our place(s) and how we inhabit them.
Presentations will be followed by panel comprised of local experts in storytelling and the craft industry.  The panel will explore ways in which Newfoundland and Labrador craft makers, artists and designers are using craft to tell their stories.

This is a collaborative project between the Craft Council Of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Intangible Cultural Heritage arm of the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Your fee of $50 + HST includes lunch!

For more info and to register visit The Crafts Council of Newfoundland and Labrador website.

Peter’s Pals: Young Curators Club - wind exchange!!

Peter’s Pals Young Curators Club at Caithness Horizons Museum, inspired by 3-knots folklore of  wind-witches selling wind to mariners, made wind-knots from their old clothes, and clothes from staff at the museum.  These wind-knots are to posted to children in Woody Point,  Newfoundland for a 'wind-exchange' !  An opportunity to make contact with children in Newfoundland, and learn about their heritage. In a few weeks time I will be helping children in Woody Point make 'wind-knots' to send back to Peter's Pals!  I've also organised a 'wind-exchange' between children at An Lanntair Art Centre in the Outer Hebrides, and children in Woody Point.

Friday, February 5, 2016

BBC Radio Scotland - The Janice Forsyth Show - paper boat fun!

I was delighted to be invited to chat about my latest projects on the Janice Forsyth show on Tuesday 26th January - it is now available on listen again for 30 days after first broadcast.

I'm on about 30 minutes in to the programme, click here to listen.

"Janice Forsyth tunes into what is happening and what is buzzing in the arts world....... Artist Joanne Kaar tells Janice about her latest project, which will see her hiding hundreds or tiny paper boats across the far north, the Northern Isles, and parts of Scandinavia."

Are you following the paper boat blog!??





Outer Hebrides


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

buying the wind

Preparing for workshops at Caithness Horizons Museum, An Lanntair Arts Centre and a craft residency in Woody Point Newfoundland  for Newfoundland and Labrador Crafts Council.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


While back in Caithness for Christmas, my brother reminded me of the special stones we used to searched for on the beaches around Stromness, Orkney, when we were much younger - Labradorite.

 Our family camping holidays in Orkney were with the Boltons, Janet, Paul and their two children from London. It was Paul who told us about the labradorite.............

Why so special?

"Henry (aka Harry) Linklater...Master of the "Harmony (IV) from 1861 to 1896 built a house on the Inner Holm Stromness, beside the house lay a pile of Iridescent Labrodernite ballast from his ship the Harmony."
click here to read more.

Click here to see a photo of the ship.

 "He retired as master of the Harmony, which plied from London to Labrador for the Moravian Mission of Germany. The ship was broken up and its ballast of labradorite dumped off the islands. Every house in Stromness had a rock of it beside the doorstep". 
Click here to read more

And lastly

  "...The annual visit of the SFG's vessel - usually named Harmony - was the Moravians' main link with the outside world...." Click here to read more.

View from my field, in Dunnet on Dunnet Head, Caithness - looking over Brough village where I grew up, with the Pentland Firth and the Orkney Island of Hoy in the distance.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Baker and Botanist of Thurso 1811-1866

I'm working away through the last 870 + photos of Robert Dicks pressed herbarium sheets, and just had to take time out to share a lovely one from Caithness in 1850. 
The Robert Dick pressed herbarium collection is in Caithness Horizons Museum, Thurso.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Jack the King of Ashes - traditional tales from Newfoundland - including 3 knots folklore

"Bennett’s stories, along with versions of Newfoundland folk tales by other storytellers, were recorded and published in “Folktales of Newfoundland,” by Hebert Halpert and John Widdowson"   Childrens book author, Andy Jones, incorporated some of these stories into his latest publication
'Jack the King of Ashes'.

I'm reading my copy of 'Jack the King of Ashes' from Running the  Goat Press in Newfoundland.!

 Click here to watch a short video clip of author Andy Jones reading from his book 'Jack the King of Ashes'.

You can read the original tales recorded in Newfoundland during the 1960's and 1970's.  The Basketmaker  - no 53 below on page 521

Jack and the Goose  - no 96 page 742

The King of Ashes Daughter. No 21 page 234

Sami - and the 'four winds hat' - controlling the wind.

Click here to read about the traditional Sami  Four Winds Hat.

Sir James George Frazer (1854–1941). The Golden Bough. 1922 - Magic controll of the wind

"....It is said, too, that sailors, beating up against the wind in the Gulf of Finland, sometimes see a strange sail leaving in sight astern and overhaul them hand over hand. On she comes with a cloud of canvas - all her studding sails out, right in the teeth of the wind, forging her way through foaming billows, dashing back the spray in sheets from her cut water, every sail swollen to bursting, every rope strained to cracking. Then the sailors know that she hails from Finland.

The art of tying up the wind in three knots, so that the more knots are loosed the stronger will  blow the wind, has been attributed to wizards in Lapland and to witches in Shetland, Lewis and the Isle of Man.  Shetland men still buy winds in the shape of knotted handkerchiefs or threads from old women who claim to rule the storms...."

Monday, December 7, 2015

3 knots folklore - 'Wind-Sellers'

Folktales from Scandinavian countries, Scotland and Newfoundland talk of mariners 'buying wind' to help them get to their fishing grounds or return home. Three knots were tied in material and sold to mariners, often by women.  If the mariner untied the first knot, there would be a gentle breeze. If they untied the second knot, the wind would get stronger. If however, if the third knot was untied, it would start a hurricane. The material used ranged from wool, cloth a single thread to a chunky rope.


I've been reading accounts of 'wind-sellers' from Scotland.
Indications are that these 'wind-sellers' were very common in the age of sail.
In Caithness, the most notorious 'wind-seller' was Meg Watt from Duncansby.  In Stomness, Orkney, you could buy wind from Bessie Miller or Mammie Scott. In Assynt you'd go to Mhor Bhan .
Sir Walter Scott met Bessie Miller in Orkney, he writes about this in the introduction to his novel 'Pirate'.

Click here to read more in the 1903 edition of Folk-lore Quarterly

Click here to read about Thor the Wind- raiser - In  Viking Society for Northern Research.




Saturday, November 28, 2015

Paper boat HQ's in Iceland, Finland, Shetland, Orkney, Caithness and Outer Hebrides!!

The paper boat blog is now live!! 
Paper boat HQ's in Iceland, Finland, Shetland, Orkney, Caithness and Outer Hebrides are all on standby - for a spring launch - please book mark the website and come back later !! 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Four Willow Baskets - Home Grown

For the past couple of weeks I've been learning to make baskets from my own home grown willow (reading instructions in books - not on a workshop).  These are the last 4 baskets, finished last night - they are, much better than the first ones I made at the start of this willow journey!!
I'll be harvesting this years willow over the winter, ready for next years basket practice. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


The colours of outdoor clothing - worn to be out in the landscape.  The journey.  A contrast to the earthy colours of the ancient traditions and Norse sea-roads connecting islands from Newfoundland to Shetland and beyond.  Combining ancient techniques of nalbinding to make contemporary outdoor clothing.  Hat - Oslo Stitch.  Exploration of the journeys between islands and what is found their.  Collecting evidence - looking at archaeology, folklore, plant collectors and documenting what is there now.  Land and Sea - traditions of garlands with knots given by wives to their husbands with one knot for every whale they hope to catch (garland - flowers - land and sea).  Whalers said to have brought the Magellan Daisy back to Caithness Orkney and Shetland, a native flower of South America.  Knots - mariners 'buying the wind' - three knots folklore traditions from the north of Scotland Iceland and Scandinavian countries reaches Newfoundland in oral history - storytelling passed down through generations.  Ideas coming together. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

What started as a few sketches in a notebook at Mary-Ann’s Cottage in Dunnet, Caithness are now getting royal approval!!!

What started as a few sketches in a notebook at Mary-Ann’s Cottage in Dunnet, Caithness are now getting royal approval!!!

Click the link to read about New Zealand Artist, Lynn Taylor who will be meeting Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall tomorrow (5th Nov) to show he our Log books !

"The Westland"

In 1879, the 'Westland' set sail on its maiden voyage from Tail o' the Bank in Scotland, to Port Chalmers in New Zealand. Navigating through the filtered lens of 130 years artists Joanne B Kaar (Scotland) and Lynn Taylor (NewZealand) respond to the way of the Westland in creating parallel 84 day log books, prints and artefacts. Inspired by the sea-chest of crew member William Young and Jonathan Moscrop's onboard ship diary Kaar and Taylor have become like sailors, spinning sea stories of this passage through their daily log entries of fragmentary discoveries, narratives, weather observations, histories, memories,objects and images. They bring two sides of the story together, Kaar relating to William Young's family croft-house (Mary-Ann's cottage) in Dunnet, Caithness Scotland, where his sea-chest is to be found, and Taylor to Port Chalmers and the Otago Harbour surrounds, New Zealand, where the Westland first docked and the immigrants started their new lives.

Click here to read the original diaries of Jonathan Moscrop:

Our log books are in collections at Caithness Horizons and in New Zealand.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

a bit more colour

This collection of outdoor clothing  are inspiration for new work - walking books (journeys over land sea and through time).  Started in the Western Isles while artist-in-residence for the Bhaltos Community Trust and An Lanntair Arts Centre, I asked for  old outdoor clothing - used on land or sea.  
During the residency I focused on the flora of the area, making a series of observational drawing in pen and coloured ink around the Bhaltos Peninsula.  Although the weather wasn't great and there were loads of midges, I liked that to view the delicate flowers, I had to wear head to toe waterproofs and a midge net.  Click here to see all of my drawings and read more about the residency.
Now back home, the ideas are developing. My drawings may become linings for  these waterproofs - flowers printed onto fabric,  the boots may be home to books that fold out.  Who knows!  Ideas will develop slowly.    I know where each item came from, that's important in the work as I start to think about other islands too. 
Many ideas are coming together:
paper boats -north to south (to be launched next year - more info here
Walking books - observational drawing - out and about in the landscape - combining this with outdoor clothing with a provenance.
Connecting Islands  and home
Connected by the sea - folklore and traditions -
A garland made for husbands - a knot tied for every whale they hoped to catch.
My head is full of ideas for special garlands.
Buying the wind - three knots - undo one and there is a gentle breeze, undo a second and there is a stronger wind. Undo the third to start a hurricane.
I like the idea that you could buy the wind - perhaps a few 'wind-knots' are in order.

Scientific - a pressed herbarium - plants growing in my field.
I like creating a variety of objects using different materials both man made and natural. Each object will have it's story to tell.
This is the start of a new, substantial body of work.