Since graduating from college, in June ’09, I felt I had asscertained an identity as a ‘knitter’ with no more open boxes. I felt tangled up in yarn and caught up in a ‘woolen identity’ I wished to break free of. I proposed to exploit this through the medium itself, as a means of expression. The two month Bursary Award at Belmont gave me the perfect opportunity to develop this through a new body of work, with the end goal of exhibiting. Being in this beautiful setting in rural Offaly, surrounded by the canal, the Brosna, the old flour mill, the geese, the dogs, the lovely bog roads for cycling, and my magnificently large studio allowed me the time and space and freedom to explore my practice and develop new concepts.
In my more recent practice, prior to my residency, I had been drawing a lot and decided to further develop this during my stay at Belmont, on a voyage of self-discovery. I worked from photos of myself, literally tangled up in wool and vomitting wool, as it continued to hold me back as an artist and make me feel ill. Through mixed media, stitch and video I wished to further these expressions. My work was also influenced by the summer months, I spent travelling across Canada volunteering on organic farms. This formed a unique source of inspiration for me and acted somewhat as a research project for my artistic practice. Working on wool and fibre crop farms, I learnt much textile techniques such as spinning, carding and felting.
My work from Belmont culminated in a series of handstitched and machine embroidered self-portraits, stretched over canvas frames and hung as wall pieces. Sheeps wool, which I handspun during the residency also, is also used to represent the material itself and my ‘woolen identity’. Three pieces from this series were exhibited in ‘1 FT SQ’, The Higher Bridges Gallery at the Clinton Centre, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh in December 2010. I plan to develop this series further and exhibit in 2011.
A special thank you to Sandy, Tom, Mark and Rosemary for making my stay at Belmont all the more enriching.