Curlew/Kuovi Collaborative Exhibition

Artist Blog Exhibition Irish Art Irish Folklore Irish History Irish Linen Art Nature Art Northern Ireland

Curlew/Kuovi - Finnish Exchange
Exhibition runs in Ards Visitor Information Centre, Newtownards, 2nd - 12th August
For the past couple of months I have been working in collaboration with Finnish Artist, Dr Pirjo Sedikki. This collaboration is the result of a Residency/Exchange that I undertook in April 2023 during which I visited Tampere in Finland, facilitated a range of workshops and demonstrations and established connections. This Residency was funded by the British Council and supported by Ards and North Down Borough Council and hosts and fellow Artists Jane McCann and Sirpa Morsky. 
Pirjo and I are working in our respective mediums but jointly exploring themes and experimenting with how our work may be brought together. Following on from my Residency in April, Pirjo will visit Northern Ireland in August for further collaborative work.
In establishing a collaboration, Pirjo and I identified some common ground. We both incorporate textiles into our work, and Finland and Ireland have a shared heritage in the production and use of Linen. Furthermore, Pirjo and I both take an interest in the natural world. Pirjo often uses bird imagery in her expressive paintings, and I take much of my inspiration from native habitats and the seasons. This union of flora and fauna in our respective work has led us to explore the Curlew (Kuovi in Finnish), a bird that unites Ireland and Finland.
For me this has meant exploring the habitat that the Curlew frequent in Northern Ireland- specifically around the Antrim Plateau, Strangford Lough and Lough Erne. Lough and Coastal shoreline mudflats are the feeding grounds of Curlew in Winter, with rough grassland/meadow with tussocks or scattering of rushes, pasture, and upland and lowland bogs being habitats for breeding.
I have focused on the grasses, reeds or rushes that can be found across these habitats, alongside seaweed that would be common amidst their feeding grounds. All pieces created so far would be ‘works in progress’ as Pirjo and I investigate how to unite our two approaches to making work. In my explorations and experiments, I have primarily focused on creating patterns using seaweeds and grasses, building up textured layers, and dyeing fabric using colour extracted from reeds. I have created a series of nature prints of mixed grasses that are common to upland and wetland areas of the Curlew’s breeding habitat.
As part of this collaborative exploration we have united out work to create some digitally printed linen textiles. These are all works in progress with the hope of furthering this collaboration in the coming months.
You can also see work by Jane McCann and Sirpa Morsky in the same location. Their exhibition, Something Old, Something New explores new textile technology and sustainability.

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