Sticking to Knitting with Craft NI

If you’re the type of person who likes to break out your cardigans for the Irish summer, CRAFT NI new exhibition could be for you. Woolworks is a contemporary textile design exhibition that brings together practitioners who have felt they have spent too much time preaching and not practicing on textiles.

The theme of the exhibition is wool and how traditional patterns and techniques can be reinterpreted in a contemporary setting, embracing the links between the cultural heritages of Wales, Ireland and Finland.

Exhibits include unique hand-woven tapestries, woolen blankets, framed textile art, accessories and one-of-a-kind garments such as Irish-style work jackets or house coats (some of these pieces unique being available for sale). Techniques such as felting, free sewing, digital embroidery, knitting, hand weaving and vegetable dyeing are highlighted.

TEXTILES: EArt enthusiasts enjoy Belfast Print Workshop's cross-border print exhibition

TEXTILES: EArt enthusiasts enjoy Belfast Print Workshop’s cross-border print exhibition

Participating makers used sustainable materials such as Cambrian and Finnish wool, indigo-dyed merino wool, báinín Irish tweed and Donegal yarns in the works.

Professor Jane McCann, the creator of the exhibition, is passionate about the potential of wool and defends its increasing use in the textile industry. She believes this unique material deserves to be celebrated and showcased alongside linen and other sustainable textiles.

As the wild dance piece reminded me of what could happen at Festival of Traditions summer school for sean-nós set dancing at the end of July – highly recommended for anyone capable who might be feeling down.

IN FRAME: Artists Liam de Frinse and Josephine McCormick at the Print Works

IN FRAME: Artists Liam de Frinse and Josephine McCormick at the Print Works

The accompanying list of workshops reminded me that once textiles are on your radar, the obsession is hard to shake off.

Chris Weiniger, Managing Director of Donegal Yarns, will talk about Ireland’s rich wool heritage. I used to work with him at Glentara Knitwear on Donegall Road when tit-for-tat killings were happening. It’s the only thing that made me take the bus instead of walking. Other workshops include experimental weaving, felting, shirt making and making a textile collar with Susan Smith, a member of the Makers’ Guild in Wales.

Exhibiting artists are: Sue Shields, Mandy Nash, Lynda Shell, Elspeth Thomas, Alison Moger, Jane McCann, Sirpa Mörsky, Susan Smith, Claire Cawte, Alison Taylor, Morne Textiles with local collaborator Cecilia Stephens.

Andrew Johnston has opened a short exhibition with the help of Frankie Quinn and the Belfast Archive Project at Artcetera Gallery. Titled ‘What We Have We Hold’, the photographic images were all taken in 2021 and focus on the loyalist community one hundred years after the formation of Northern Ireland.

Andrew, who comes from the Unionist community, has focused on the dominant male side within the community, from sidewalk painting to anti-protocol protesters and hijacked cars. Reminding us all that once violence has been nurtured within a community, it is not always easy to shift into peacemaking mode, especially when warlike tendencies are glorified and masculinities can be demonstrated according to this that has been happening for generations. I suspect the exhibit will be traveling and provide viewers with a chance to reflect.

On the way to the Belfast-Dundalk exhibition at Belfast Print Shop at Cotton Court It was great to see the work of the cross-border collaboration and proof that an obsession with print can take you in so many different directions.

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