I recently was involved in the Small is Beautiful pecha kutcha at the Whisky Bond in Glasgow . It was an interesting evening of fast and furious presentations on the topic Practice, Money, Art and I chose to speak about money and the projects I have created which have generated money or related to money or exchange in some way

On 20th November at the Glad cafe I will be sharing The Kildas project as a work in progress talk . I will introduce 'saints' met on my travels and share the working processes involved in making crafted medals for each 'saint'. I have been working with coins from each area ( Scotland, New Zealand and Australia) 

Guest artists include Hanna Tuulikki, Alasdair Roberts and Judith Williams so it promises to be an interesting evening of craft word and song. 
photo by jeni reid

In August 2013 as part of Spincycle Skye with Sampler Culture Clash, a group of unusual suspects gathered to perform at Skye Bike Fest.   The sonic laboratory explored circular and periodic motion and all things that rotate, repeat, occillate and spin. As lead artist on the Spin project with Atlas Arts and with previous knowledge and admiration for previous projects with Sampler Culture Clash,  I developed ideas around a programme of events for the year long Spincycle programme.  Atlas arts invited David Littler and Jason Singh from Sampler Culture Clash to spend a week long residency on Skye working with spinners , weavers, knitters, singers, musicians and cyclists from the island to create a new performance 'Spincycle - A sonic journey into the world of spin'. Spincycle was a journey around the island; of circular and periodic motion; of revolutions and reels; cycles and occilations and rotations; a meeting of cultures and people connected through textiles and sound. The project supported by Creative Scotland.

Spincycle brought together David Littler, Jason Singh,  Skye Weavers,Hector Macinnes, singer Anne Martin  for a performance at Skye Bike Fest.  I joined the talented group and read a sock knitting pattern on stage during the performance. We were delighted with the outcome and determined to do it again! This year with support from Arts Council England, David Littler  made this happen as part of his Yan Van Tethera project in partnership with the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS).

"The project featured: An exhibition of new work by artists Freddie Robins, Shane Waltener, Prick Your Finger, Stewart Easton and the McGrath Makers Group delved deep into the EFDSS's archive; 
The project culminated in a live performance from sonic arts collective sampler-cultureclash as they unite Gaelic song with spinners, weavers and knitters, and traditional and electronic musicians in an exploration of things that spin."

As the finale to Yan Van Tethera project Spincycle took to the stage again with fantastic additions to the group, on bodhran and song Aimee Leonard,  on knitting machine Rachel Matthews, clogging by Laurel Swift and digital shenanigins with multi disciplinary artist Adam John WilliamsI was particularily excited to have the opportunity to be part of it all again but also use wearable technology in the form of a sensor glove as I read the sock knitting pattern.  Adam had partnered with  RS Components putting together a wearable musical instrument for Jason Singh to work with at Music Tech Fest. Have a look at Adam here in a great wee film.   

As a music lover, it was a real priveledge to be in rehearsals with such a talented bunch and watch in awe at the way they improvise and jam together.  Laurel Swift arrived on day 2 and began clogging and before long Aimee and Jason accompanied on Bodhran and beatboxing creating beautiful call and responses and united sound. Sampler culture clash are genius at bringing together diverse practices in both textiles and music and I am really proud to have been part of such an exciting venture fusing tradition and technology, hand and machine, gaelic song, clogging, beats and voice. 

Count me in on the next venture Mr David Litter of Sampler Culture Clash! 

photograph by Daniel Warren

Its been a busy summer getting costume ready for Away with the Birds. The performance was a great success and the singers stayed dry and warm in wool and neoprene!  Many thanks to Annalisa Simonella and Christie Alexander for their expert help in making ten costumes. The performance was filmed so there will be further news of where to see it again very soon! 

Jenny Brownrigg has written and indepth review of Away with the Birds  

'The costumes are a key element of production linking ancient belief in nature to the spiritual. The colour red in Celtic culture is associated with the otherworld. The redshank is the bird who sings to the soul on its departure to the next. Nelson references red in the singers’ legs and the pleated insert on the back of the tunics. The designer cleverly combines contemporary with historical fabric in the singers’ costumes. Local Canna wool made by islander Julie McCabe is used in the tunics, whilst hi-tech red neoprene creates the legs of the garment which allows the singers to move in the water. The hoods of the woolen shrugs, somewhat monastic in nature, are based on 1930s’ patterns of fishermen hoods, providing a protection against the elements. The hood is a key part of the outfit. When drawn up over the singer’s head it aids the visual transition of human turning into bird. The detail of the reveal is key too, with knitted white inserts in the sleeves under the arms, detailed with a ‘v’ pattern,  mimicking a skein of birds in flight. Tuulikki mentions in a studio visit that she enjoys the wordplay of ‘skein’, meaning a skein of wool or birds. At the back of the charcoal grey tunics, an inserted red pleat accentuates choreographed movement'


Since returning from the KILDAS I have been busy with other projects but at last have time to dedicate to creating a body of work for the KILDAS.  I have so many lovely recordings, images and many stories to tell of the many ‘saints’ I met along the way. I am beginning to wade through them all and find a way of bringing it together for an exhibition.

I have been considering appropriate materials to use for the creation of ‘awards’/ ‘medals’ and working with both found objects and wool from the three St Kildas. With the expert help to Alison Macleod and Marianne Anderson of the School Of Jewellery in Glasgow I have been experimenting with silver from coins from New Zealand, Scotland and Australia. The coins not only link each Kilda but in exploring and questioning ideas of the history of currency and commonwealth.  The silver from each coin has been reused and new works are begin created with each ‘saint’ in mind.
It is exciting to learn new techniques and begin to combine textiles with new materials and ways of transforming silver coins into new works.

A work in progress evening will be held at THE GLAD CAFÉ in Glasgow the evening of 20th November. 

Very soon I will be heading to Isle of Skye to exhibit knitted work as a result of the project Lùb | Loop  with Atlas arts  2013/14. A series of hand knitted socks will be on display at Skye Agriculture Show alongside the best of Skyes agriculture.  
A knitted map of Skye accompanies the socks. Knit in local, hand spun Cheviot wool, the map references the introduction of Cheviot sheep on Skye. 

'People called 1792 Bliadhna nan Caorach - The Year of the Sheep - not because it marked the start of the Clearances, but because this was the year when the great white sheep, the Cheviot, was widely introduced throughout the Highlands. Its large size, its hardiness and  tolerance of Highland conditions, and its production of great quantities of high-quality wool and meat meant that volume sheep-farming suddenly became immensely more profitable, and the death-knell was sounded for the traditional way of life for tens of thousands of people across the Highlands and Islands.

photo by Alex Boyd

I am currently developing new costume with the singer Hanna Tuulikki for Away with the Birds . The singers will be performing in water so it will present a few exciting challenges. The Robe like costume for previous performances were inspired by sea birds such as the Oystercatcher and incorporated ideas of bird display through flashes of colour reminiscent of kilt pleats. You can experience a taster HERE of the project.  We have also just launched a kickstarter appeal so if you would like to get involved have a look HERE

'Hanna Tuulikki’s Air falbh leis na h-eòin is a body of work exploring the mimesis of birds in Gaelic song. On the 29th and 30th of August it becomes a sited performance on the Isle of Canna. The following month it will migrate to Tramway in Glasgow, with performances on the 19th and 20th September.

The Kildas
In March I travelled to St Kilda in New Zealand and Melbourne as part of a Commonwealth 20 for 14 project with Creative Scotland. You can follow progress of the project HERE

Her main areas of interest are the people of present day St Kildas. There is no ‘Saint’ Kilda (It is said that a Dutch cartographer wrongly named the Scottish Island). Deirdre would like to celebrate contemporary ‘Saint’ Kildans and create a series of crafted awards which celebrate people/‘saints’ she meets along the way. The project links both past and present, north and south and the people who inhabit the Kildas. It is hoped the project will present contemporary insight into St Kildas rather than the often over romanticised view of the Scottish island. 
'More than 4,000 people visited St Kilda Scotland last year – a fourfold increase in ten years – including passengers from 20 cruise ships.”The challenge is keeping that intangible quality that everyone gets when they go there. Its the sense of place, the atmosphere”, says Susan Bain, the NTS Western Isles officer. Scotland.  She adds: “Perhaps it has come to symbolise all the evacuations from islands, but St Kilda is dominated by the evacuation and I think its a shame it’s what it is known for: the time it was struggling and failed. For thousands of years it thrived and people were successful, yet its history is dominated by its last gasp.” via  The Scotsman

LÙB | LOOP maps the Isle of Skye through socks and celebrating stock clubs, 
crofting, spinning and the use of local wool. Exhibition continues until the 25th of March at Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre. Portree. Skye. 

You can follow the project on the  LÙB | LOOP blog here 

I am delighted to be part of the ceramic New Beginnings at Nantgarw China Works in Wales 1st March - 27th April.  Plates made as part of Artist Object Project in 2010 will become part of this exhibition exploring the realms of the domestic, figurative and sculptural. 

My latest exhibition Lùb|Loop with Atlas will be at Skye + Lochalsh Archive Centre, Portree, Skye 4-25 March

Lùb | Loop is a contemporary project which celebrates socks, culture, and the communities producing wool in present day Skye

Sock knitting has long been part of textile history and economy and in the past much of the wool in Skye was spun and developed into thread for weaving with a small amount kept for knitting. The wool used for making socks often came from the left over scraps at the fanks after shearing. Knitted socks were also sold or sent on to companies outside Skye.

I visited crofters from a range of stock clubs across Skye and Raasay. Crofters have each donated a fleece that will be spun by a spinner from Skye. Creating a LOOP, from fleece to spun wool to knitting, individual socks have been made to highlight wool; crofting, craft skills and the feet that walk the land. Lùb | Loop celebrates the collaborative skills of the people involved but also highlights the value and potential use of local wool.

Each unique sock has been created using Skye wool and celebrates and places value on both wool and all those involved in wool production. Wool is a natural, resilient, biodegradable fibre and it is hoped that each sock will walk the land of Skye and have a long life beyond the project.   I value having the opportunity to meet both crofters and spinners involved in Lùb | Loop. Their knowledge and skill have been invaluable to this collaborative project and I have learnt so much from all involved.  

Lùb | Loop is part of year long project Spincycleskye. 

Spincycle-Skye is a year long multi-disciplinary project funded by Creative Scotland, looking at culture, performance, music, visual arts, and crafts. Taking as its starting point the theme of spin, it draws inspiration from many areas and will explore things that revolve, turn, rotate, mirror, and repeat.

Over the past year I have been working with Atlas arts as lead artist on the project SPINCYCLESKYE . In collaboration with Atlas arts a series of Spin related activities have taken place including Nick Hand cycling from spin to spin on Skye, a performance by Sampler Culture Clash and film screenings in laundrettes.  

I am currently completing work for Lúb|Loop in collaboration with crofters and spinners on Skye and beyond. We have also launched the Great Welly Sock Challenge encouraging a community of knitters to knit welly socks in support of Row St Kilda to Skye.  You can download a pattern HERE

Sexy Peat exhibiton is now open at The Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh as part of SeaChange exhibition with Cape Farewell .  YOU can follow the research blog HERE

Sea Change is an exhibition of new work made on Scotland's Western and Northern Isles. The exhibition also includes Sexy Peat/Tìr mo Rùin - New print works created in response to the Lewis peatlands (Highland Print Studio in partnership with Cape Farewell).

Between the Lines 

an exhibition curated by Melanie Egan at Harbourfront Arts Centre Toronto  21st September _ 29th December

You just never know where a line may lead.

It may be a path into a world real or imagined, or a thread that twists and turns without a foreseeable end. A line can mark the passage of time and the beating of our heart. We cling to life-lines in times of distress. They can anchor us or allow a kite to soar. Lines can create order or confusion, guide you on the straight-and-narrow or direct you nowhere. 

A line is one of the most basic components of art and design practice and these eight artists cleverly lead you on.

– Melanie EganHead, Craft, Harbourfront Centre

An Aran sweater purchased on Ebay is deconstructed and is transformed into a baby blanket. The blanket references the passing down of garments, tradition and craft. Often the line of tradition and skill is broken. Down the Line blanket allows for both historical and contemporary to exist in a contemporary functional textile.


I am currently working on a project Tir mo Ruin and have spent the last two weeks on the Isle of Lewis. 
Sexy Peat/Tir mo Rùin is a project that will create a body of contemporary visual art in response to the rich ecology and heritage of the Lewis Peatlands in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. The Lewis Peatlands, and their blanket bog and moorlands, form a remarkable landscape both visually and environmentally. Beyond their initially austere or barren appearance the peatlands reveal an abundance of colour, texture and life forms in constant interaction with dynamic weather systems. These features have inspired the people who have lived with the moor for generations. This project will investigate and celebrate that land, those people and their heritage.

Another important reason for carrying out this project is to highlight the significant and largely unrecognised role that peatlands play in global climate regulation. As carbon sinks, they are similar in importance to tropical rainforests, and yet they too are being damaged and destroyed at an unprecedented rate.
Sexy Peat will make a body of contemporary visual art that raises the profile of peatlands and their environmental value, unearths their material complexity and celebrates the continuing interweaving of their human and biological realms.  

You can follow the project blog here   and via Capefarewell Seachange site here

Between the Line 

I am beginning to work on a piece for 'Between the line' an exhibition of textiles curated by Melanie Egan at Harbourfront Centre Toronto. ( 21 September - 29th December )

Developing ideas explored in Aran 0.5 (repurposing a traditional aran knit jumper) purchased on Ebay), I hope to develop the theme of Between the Line  in exploring ideas around Lines' of heritage and physical lines in the creation of stitch in knit. 

a line = a number of persons standing one behind the other and waiting their turns at or for something; queue 
down the line = in the future 

a. Ancestry or lineage.
b. A series of persons, especially from one family, who succeed each other: a line of monarchs; comes from a long line of bankers.
c. A strain, as of livestock or plants, developed and maintained by selective breeding.