Saturday, August 20, 2011

Memento Mori the name of the show myself and my sister Jennifer Walshe have up at the moment in the Roscommon Arts Centre. (Click on any image to see a bigger version.)

We decided to present it as a show curated by us, with work made by our alter egos, three each.
Mine are:
Nollaig Dottirson, a transgender Icelandic-Roscommon artist, who knits and felts violent artifacts - bombs, Molotov cocktails, security cameras and barbed wire.

"Nollaig's work is contextualised in her own transgendered and transnational experience (born in Reykjavik to Icelandic and Irish parents), wherein the sometimes violent renegotiation of her gender is metaphorised in her intimate, familiar and knitted appropriations of the iconography of war and aggression.

The project of feminising these icons challenges notions of masculinity and femininity, and explores violence both personal and political, from a sexually transgressive perspective."
...then comes An Snag Breac, an outsider artist living in Roscommon...

"An Snag Breac is Irish for the magpie, and represents the raiding and hoarding of unwanted objects, natural and artificial. It is the pseudonym of a Roscommon-based artist creating assemblages of phantasmagorical creatures from the discarded detritus of the natural and manufactured world.
Mixed media include textiles, wood, taxidermy using road kill animals and discarded objects. Plastic golems of flesh and bone, queer syntheses of steel, wood, skin and fleece, reflect on and recycle the workings of the inner world, both natural and psychological.

An Snag Breac’s ongoing experience of chronic pain (back and neck) underpins aspects of the biological and anatomical focus of her work, influencing her use of material – including a spine and acupuncture needles."

...and the embroidered advice handkerchiefs of textile artist Enda O'Rourke...

"Enda O’Rourke is a textile artist resident in the Boyle area. Enda’s work is a recreation and reflection of his personal history. Born in London to unmarried Irish parents, Enda was raised by his grandmother and aunts, learning to sew from an early age - the stitches and tradition dropped from grandmother to grandson. Enda’s work seeks to recreate the unspoken and lost libraries of his grandmother’s experience, in a tradition neither aural, nor written, but textile based, and in the voice his grandmother and the women who raised him bequeathed him."

Then we had Jenny's collection:

The Community Choir drawings from Turf Boon...

"Boon considers his Community Choir Drawings series an open-source composition, one in which the viewer is expected to be an active participant in decoding and assigning meaning.

The deployment of communal authorship in this project recalls for Boon the gift drawings and songs of the Shakers, drawings which were executed as depictions of heavenly inspirations or gifts. Gift drawings were not considered to be the work of an individual artist (the drawings were never signed), but a contribution to the whole community that could be employed as any member saw fit.

Boon’s Community Choir Drawings series is imbued with a similar sense of openness and generosity, which reflects his career-long engagement with the ethics of community and the importance of group spirit."

A film from Freya Birren...

Olia Lialina’s M.B.C.B.F.T.W. (Redux, At Rest)

"Russian artist Olia Lialina created her browser-based artwork My Boyfriend Came Back From The War in 1996. It is considered one of the first works of internet art, and tells the fragmented story of a woman and her boyfriend’s attempts to communicate and connect after he returns from fighting in a war.

Lialina’s work has been subject to many re-workings by different artists. Birren’s version takes Lialina’s as a starting point in both visual and textual terms. Here, however, a different story of a different soldier in a different war unfolds from Lialina’s opening line. Unlike Lialina’s pioneering use of the internet as an artisitic medium, Birren’s use of technology is deliberately low-fi - Postit notes simulate the frames of a browser, with the film processed to look like it was made in the 1970s."

...and finally, the work of outsider artist Caoimhin Breathnach, shown for the first time since his death. He lived in Knockvicar and collected sound recordings, keeping a diary of his works in Ogham.

"The main focus of Breathnach’s artistic practice was the creation of his unique brand of “subliminal tapes.” This was a two-fold procedure - Breathnach began by recording sounds onto cassette tapes, before subjecting the tapes to a wide range of physical processes, such as burying, burning or encasing them in various materials such as velvet, paper or moss. In most cases, these physical processes rendered the tapes unplayable, so that the sounds recorded on them can now only be imagined.

For tape 79, Breathnach notes how he rose at dawn on the summer solstice (“grian-stad”) in 1982 to record himself playing a series of chords on the harp against the backdrop of his radio broadcasting at 1485 Khz. After sleeping with the tape under his pillow for a night, he then wore the tape strapped to his abdomen for a week, noticing significant improvement to his “strampail” and “gl√≥rghail” (both obscure words are defined in Dineen as referring to stomach noises)."

The show is on until Thursday the 25th for those of you in the area. More details here.

The Bomb

Yay, I put a new pattern up, and its free! More explosive knitting!
It is a simple pattern, starting with the bomb itself. This is knitted in the round from the top down, with paired increases, a straight section and then paired decreases. The bomb-top is knitted in a similar way but as a flat disk, then sewn in place. The fuse and sparks are worked in I-cord and then sewn together.

Finished size: 5”/13cm diameter
Yarn: The pattern is written for a worsted/aran weight yarn, but gauge is not important – you could use any size yarn. The important thing is to use needles a size smaller than normal. This means the stuffing won’t show through.
Worsted weight yarn in black (60yds/50m), white (6yds/6m), yellow (4yds/4m), orange (4yds/4m) and red (4yds/4m).
I used Lamb’s Pride Worsted in M-05 Onyx, M-10 Cream, M-155 Lemon Drop, M-110 Orange You Glad and M-107 Red Hot Passion.

Other materials: 4.5mm/UK/US Size 7 dpns, Stitch marker, Yarn needle, Stuffing
Gauge: 20 sts and 26 rows to 4”/10cm in stocking st on 4.5mm/Size 7 needles
Its free to download. You can download it here:
or go here for the Ravelry page for the pattern and download it from there.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We are looking for help with the funding for Hunter's Moon Festival.

Please check out our fundit campaign here - there are some great rewards for donations to the festival!

You can view our ridiculous plea for help through puppetry above!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Hunter's Moon Festival Call for Submissions

The talented and lovely Willy and Natalia are organising a music and art festival in Carrick-on-Shannon this October, lots of details here. I am co-curating the art side of things. We will be organising an art trail around town, with a larger space as a festival box-office and gallery. Here is the call-out below for all you arty creative types!

Hunter’s Moon Festival, Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim October 28-30th 2011 promises to be a weekend of music, art and film. Performers include Tony Conrad, Blood Stereo, Circulus and Sharron Kraus.

The Festival invites artists from ALL disciplines (large/small outdoor work, sound installations and performance work very welcome) to submit proposals of existing or new work. Selected work will be included in an Art Trail throughout Carrick on Shannon. This art trail will take place in vacant shops and shop fronts in the town, a pop up gallery and The Dock Arts Centre.

Hunter’s Moon is the name for the full moon which falls in October, the light of which helped hunters to track and kill their prey. We are looking for work which reflects this theme – darkness, moonlight, hunting, flesh…The Sinister.

Applicants must be available to deliver and install their work during the week prior to the festival and to collect work on Monday/Tuesday afterwards. Any work sold will be charged a commission of 10%. Artists will be in charge of the transport, installation and deinstallation of their work. There will be a ten Euro fee for artists who are accepted – this will go towards the cost of invigilation but will be waived for any artists willing and able to volunteer time to invigilate.

Applicants must submit proposals by email to: huntersmoonart at
Applications must be accompanied by a short artist’s statement, proposal of intended work/s with photographs where applicable, and examples of recent work – this can be image attachments up to 1KB or links to a website or blog and must be clearly labeled.

Throughout the duration of the festival a craft market will be in operation. There are a limited amount of stalls available to artists/craftspersons to sell their wares from. Interested parties can send their details to the same email.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please let us know if you need anything clarified: huntersmoonart at

Submission deadline: 1st September 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

In search of the perfect flame

For two days I have been knitting flames. That's quite a lot of flames. (And one whole day of backwards flames.) A new knitting pattern is coming shortly, involving flames. (How did you guess?) Particularly apt considering the rioting in the UK. So I spent a long time trying to work out a pattern for a short-row garter stitch flame using wrap and turns on both ends at different and non-symmetrical intervals. (Sorry non-knitters, that's the end of the technical part.) And work one out I did.

And then we had a bonfire last night. And I looked at the flames and thought, alas, these flames do not resemble my knitted versions, what has gone askew...? Which was when I realised that flames are brighter and yellower on the inside, and darker and redder on the outside, not the other way around - that is, if you were to try and represent them as two dimensional objects anyway, which I have to say, is bleeding difficult to start off with.

So that led me to a whole other day knitting flames in reverse, until I was happy with a final design (see far right below.)
Sadly, I have only perfected one size, so will spend yet another day tomorrow knitting smaller flames. Considering the almost arsonist-like qualities of certain members of my family you'd think I'd be better at this.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Memento Mori

We have an exhibition coming up in the Roscommon Arts Centre next week, and I have been busy making work for it, including this giant felted barbed wire.
I have been wanting to make this piece for ages now so its been good to finally get around to it. You may have noticed my penchant for making weapons and artifacts of war and violence out of textiles before. (...and if you haven't then you really haven't been paying attention.)
It even works on horses.

Details of the exhibition are here, and all are welcome to the opening next Wednesday between 5-6.30pm.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Baking day

I decided to make some dough this morning to bring to Knockvicar Organic Garden for baking in the clay oven. The fire had been lit early this morning by the lovely Laszlo and allowed to die down to embers.
I've never baked bread in a clay oven before. It is very different to using an oven obviously, a fierce heat - dry and quick to burn bread.
I tried a focaccia. We only placed it just inside the door - not even into the main chamber, and within minutes it was going brown on one side.
With plentiful turning and watching and even flipping, it came out lovely in the end and was devoured in minutes. (Complete with butter. How Irish are we!?)

There were a couple of delicious pizza-type concoctions cooked and then I put in two loaves of bread at the end, when things had cooled down a bit. I put them in the main oven for about 10 minutes and then brought them out to the door, shifting them back and forth every few minutes until I found the spot where they would cook and not burn. I found leaving the door ajar helped too.
Eventually it was just me and the dog in the pouring rain, keeping a watchful eye on the bread, and shifting tins back and forth continually. Well, that was me, the dog just lay on the ground trying not to get rained on, more successfully than me!

It seems to be that there is a lot of experimenting with clay ovens, learning how the oven fires - it reminds me of firing pottery in a wood-fired kiln some years back - learning how the kiln reacted to being fed with wood, what happened to the temperature each time more wood was added. Learning and responding to the fire.
Overall a great success, and lots of lovely eating happened today. There is a slight smokiness off the bread, and the crust was gorgeous too - crispier and crunchier than an electric oven.

The oven was hot for hours too, I can see why they are used communally - you can get so much baking out of one firing. I'll certainly be back with my dough again. Thanks Knockvicar!