My work during Ceangal has been an intuitive response to the natural woodlands and native forests encountered in the Gairloch area. Every woodland we explored had its own atmosphere; a different range of smells, plant life, birdsong, colours and light. Vibrant timeless ecosystems, remaining pockets of the great wood of Caledon which nurtured and protected the peoples before us for thousands of years. In our recent history we have become disconnected from the land, from the seasons, and have lost simple traditional skills, and rarely work with our hands.
I only gathered small amounts from any one tree or woodland, so as to not leave any visible impact and to widely explore the area. the work was to explore the cycles, seasons, the celtic tree alphabet, the tree of life, the rags and prayers people attach to sacred trees, faerie trees or ‘cloutie’ wells, ancient faiths and creating patterns like celtic knotwork, the weave a metaphor for our lives and connections. Rather than the expected tranquil woodland meditation the residency became an unpredictable fight against the weather, the woodlands and my own self imposed limitations.
( photo by Anish Ahluwalia )
Count our blessings
As a society we are too focused on aspirations, on what we want, what we haven’t got, what others have, rather than remembering o give thanks. I wanted to create a sphere that reminds us to do this. I wove the sphere sheltering from the rain under a beautiful Hazel tree, coloured paper with bramble juice. The pupils from Gairloch High school decorated it with what they are blessed with and thankful for.
Full of Hope.
This sphere was made from sticks gathered widely across the area. I gathered Rowan Berries to fill it with, this harvest is ephemeral, if shaken they fall out. As the berries drop out they leave hints of colour wherever the sphere has been. Hopes, dreams, wishes and aspirations should be held gently also. Sometimes we need to let go of them too.
Mud,Blood and Love
A simple Birchwood hoop, rags and threads stained with brambles and peat. Life is neither light nor dark. Nature is not always gentle, love and pain, joy and sufferning, all part of the story. The triskele can stand for many things, earth, sky, and sea being one. We are all woven into the web of life, all but a small part of a balanced connected greater whole.
24 Birch saplings formed the uprights to this structure, a basket with no base, a shelter a dome, a fairy home, a vessel, a container; it took on the shape of a head and could easily be a cage rather than a shelter. We can live in harmony with nature or trap ourselves in a disconnected world within the limits of our own heads. Throughout our lives what sort of construction are we weaving- a flexible, open, nurturing structure or a brittle, dense, constrictive one?