Tuesday, August 31, 2010

spinning in the window!

our new drum carder!

following a wool laden lorrie into Carndonah - a good omen

setting up the studio window

Seema here filling in for Jenelle.
Despite grey skies and windy conditions, around 30 people spun wool into yarn in the streets and shopfronts of Carndonagh yesterday. Sitting in empty store front windows, or standing out on the sidewalk, people from the age of 6 to 80 got in on the action. We even had one of the local politicians take up a spindle. Overall the day was a wonderful experience of spinning and meeting people. The studio is set up and ready for visitors and makers. Many connections were forged and desires voiced during the event, and as a direct result we will be hosting our first workshop in the new space on Monday.  Felting at 1 p.m. on Monday with local textile artist Maura McLaughlin!

Here's a wee synopsis of recent events:
Sadly, on Thursday Jenelle left to resume her travels. Steve, my fella, arrived to fulfil the role of wrangler and keep Dashiell and myself together.
Friday was spent gearing up for the event, making lists, and contacting people.
Yesterday started in a slight panic with an unanticipated shift of weather! I woke up to pouring RAIN! The mostly “calm day with a chance of showers” was now forecast as gale force winds and rain! I dashed into town to secure a couple of indoor shop front spaces and scope out good alcoves for spinning.  Persevering despite a possible rain-out, Steve and I made it to the studio just after noon and began our mad sprint to the finish line with me setting up the studio space and Steve off to pick up reception supplies. As I was standing in the empty studio wondering how to wash windows and move furniture while wearing the boy in his baby bjorn, two women appeared at the door ready to help.

Mary and Ethna from Culmore had come up from Northern Ireland just for the event. They magically appeared at the studio and took charge of cleaning and arranging the space. It was amazing! After 2 hours, having been scrubbed and sorted, the studio was ready for visitors. A special thanks to Mary and Ethna! Steve, laden with booze and printing, did the final bits and put up signs in the window.  Johnny Shiels and family came by early to card wool for the spinners and set up one of his handmade spinning wheels. Ruth McCartney,(super hero of the carbon footprint team), had beautiful couches and other furniture delivered to the space!  Ger the printer also deserves a special thanks for getting signs done for us without any notice. A special shout out to all those who helped!  This was a truly Irish experience with many hands making light work.

left uncarded wool, right carded wool ready for spinners

Once it was all set to go, the spinners arrived to pick up some wool and take their posts. Remarkably, the weather calmed down enough for us to spin outside. Loads of people showed up for the spinning. There was wool and spinners everywhere!  The studio was full of good craic and song. I was well impressed with the enthusiasm of the group and the interest from new people.
Afterwards we all gathered in the studio and raised a glass to the success of the day and the many people that made it all come together. It was really a wonderful day! Thank you to everyone who supported the event! xoxoxo

Friday, August 27, 2010

spin in tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the big day. Many of you have volunteered to be part of the Spin In tomorrow from 3-5. Please meet (if possible - I know some of you are busy just before hand) at the Carbon Footprint Studio (former pretty windows store beside the persian pub) at 2:30-ish to pick up wool, grab some info cards, and find your spinning location. Depending on the weather, it might be advisable to ask a friend to come with you to hold your umbrella. Bring an umbrella.

There is a thank you reception in the studio afterwards. Please come and share a glass of wine and see the new space. You are all invited to come in and spin or knit etc. or just stop in at the studio over the next 9 weeks.

Thanks to everyone.
See you tomorrow!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Last Spinning Workshop Stop: Buncrana

Today we spent a lovely day spinning in the glow of the afternoon sun at the Tullyarvan Mill in Buncrana. We had a nice sized group out for the workshop and we are getting very excited about Saturday's spinning performance in Carndonagh.

More Spinning in Moville

Again the spinning workshop in Moville has been a huge success! We have been overwhelmed with all of the community support for the project. Thank you to everyone for coming out and to Aideen and Katie at Little Stars Preschool who let us host the event in their new space!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Carbon Footprint in the Derry Journal and Inish Times

Today Carbon Footprint was featured in the Derry Journal and the Inish Times.

Here is the article in the Derry Journal.

Spinning Workshop in Carndonagh a Success!

Today was a huge success! We had a good number of enthusiastic people out to spin and we couldn't be happier. People even were excited to give the wheel a go. We are very much looking forward to the workshop in Moville tomorrow! It's Ruth's (our trusty sidekick) home town so we are expecting another great turnout. I was so busy that I didn't get nearly as many photos as I liked but here are a few of some of the people who stopped by.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Spinning at the Persian

Tonight Ruth and I stopped at the Persian in Carndonagh for a quick pint and a spin. It was lovely and we drummed up some chat from some of the bar patrons. One kind gentleman even tried to persuade some Scottish tourists to join us. They declined. We tried to convince our new friend to join us as he was truly fascinated by it and kept on telling us about the Aran jumpers his mom made for him and his three other brothers. It was quite possible that he might have had a few too many pints to spin anyway. There is a three pint limit when you are drinking and spinning. :)

Seema speaks!

Here is some information on the project in Seema's own words (instead of my mumble jumble!):

The Lovely Weather Project is a thematic residency sponsored by Donegal County Council Public Art Office along with Leonard√łOLATS. The purpose of the residency is to explore how art can address issues around global warming and climate change, specifically in County Donegal.

My project, Carbon Footprint, uses wool and spinning as the primary metaphor to articulate the intrinsic relationship between climate change and economics. Locally, sheep wool has become valueless and is a zero profit material for the farming community. Yet this material has incredible versatility, history, and worth if explored. This project works to rejuvenate the use of local wool framing it as a political act that separates the green house gas emissions graph from the GDP graph.

Carbon footprint has several components:

Inspiration for the project:
When I first decided to apply for the residency I looked for my own connections to Donegal. I went to my closet and pulled out my Donegal cable sweater. Reading the tag gave me my initial direction for the work. Where was Donegal in this object? Like many textile traditions, Donegal sweaters have particular patterns referencing the landscape from which they emerge. I considered remaking these sweaters with contemporary references to climate change and weather patterns using local wool.

The wool is a type of portrait of the place. Made up literally of Donegal (earth, air, and water), I feel this material is as representative of the area as it is possible to be. Once I came to Inishowen the piece shifted to be more about the relationship between climate change and economics as exemplified by material values and uses. In the instance of my Donegal Sweater, the name of the object replaced the need for it to actually come from the place, so a complicated and carbon heavy web produced this item in Thailand which was later sold in Canada. In Inishowen, wool was once a material that had use and value but is now superfluous. I was shocked to learn I could buy a whole fleece for 2 euros and wool is treated as a waste material, sometimes thrown away because it has so little value here. I wanted to understand the relationship of locals to the sheep and wool.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that wool is a form of local carbon capture. It successfully sequesters a significant amount of atmospheric carbon which isn’t later released through consumption (unless left to moths etc.). Using this material challenges the current dismissal of it as well as the global market forces which insist on large scale industry and global economics. This is an opportunity to use a material that is ubiquitous (and synonymous) with Ireland, and actually find a way to “act locally.” (no small order when you think about it). Shifting the scale of the problem and action to an intimate personal level.

The work is a public engagement piece. As such, I am not sure what the final piece will look like but I do know it involves people! Here are some of the parts. Firstly, I audited a grad class on climate change at NUIM taught by Dr. Rowan Fealy. While this is a very academic way to engage in the subject is is also one of the most important. Not only did this help to develop a
better understanding of the science and become familiar with the visual language of the data, it also reminded me of the hurdles in translating such overwhelming information into something tactile and personal.

The next thing was to figure out my material. I’m now the proud owner of an Ashford and a Luet spinning wheel as well as a beautifully made drop spindle. I was fortunate to find a spinnig workshop led by Mary O’Rourke, an artist of tremendous vision, skill, and warmth.

I’ve also collected almost 50 kilos of local Texal, Suffolk, and Jacobs fleece. I’m now teaching people how to spin and am discovering an unexpected but much appreciated enthusiasm particularly among knitters and crocheters. Most local people tell me they have never even seen a spinning wheel in action even though the last Irish maker of spinning wheels lives in Carndonagh and Ireland was once home to a significant cottage industry of women spinning flax in their homes.

Spinning in fact helped Irish women develop some economic independence and was a symbol of Irish perseverance and creativity, (I usually go on a rant here). At the moment I have a public action planned for August 28th where a large group of people spin wool on drop spindles in front of empty shop-front spaces in Carndonagh as an act of resistance to global economics, to the recession, to a trade system that erodes local production of goods, and to the idea of helplessness in the larger picture of economic disaster. It is a reminder that there is opportunity and industry available, but these things will not come to us without our own efforts and active choices. If you want change, you have to make it.

I have also secured a studio space in Carndonagh! You’re all invited to drop in. I have a kettle for making tea and a tin of cookies ready for visitors. This space will be used as a spinning and knitting space for the next 10 weeks where anyone can come by and learn to spin or use the hand-cranked knitting machine to churn out a pair of socks. These will include design motifs which reference the climate change data from the Malin Head meteorological station and other sources.

Objects have trace. While the phrase Carbon Footprint usually references our measure of consumption, it should also take into account the carbon fingerprint - that is where that carbon comes from. This work emphasises the importance of a materials history, not just in terms of its production and transportation, but also its history and inherent meaning. A locally made thing created by hand rephrases that material, object, and place as precious.

All the wool spun will be knit into socks incorporating climate change data. The work will show in Letterkenny in November at the Regional Cultural Centre. Gallery viewers will also have the opportunity to make themselves a pair of socks during their visit.

Meet the Artist - Seema Goel

(Photo courtesy of Paul McGuckin www.landscapeireland.com)

Here is an introduction to Seema, the brains behind this whole project, in her own words.

I am a Canadian multimedia artist focusing on human-animal, human-place, and human-human relationships. Using an eclectic range of materials (from projections on buildings to taxidermied animals), I employ humour and irony to draw the viewer into the deeper content of the work. My interests and training straddle both the arts and sciences and I seek to engage both these disciplines in the work.

I have been addicted to school for some time. I hold a B.Sc. from McGill, an Associate Arts diploma from the Ontario College of Art and Design, an MFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. I am currently completing an interdisciplinary M.Sc. between engineering and fine art focusing on public architecture, sustainable energy, and aesthetics. At the moment I am privileged to be the artist in residence for Inishowne for the LEONARDO/ Donegal Regional Cultural Centre project “Lovely Weather” in Donegal, Ireland, examining climate change, micro-economics, and local autonomy.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Meet the Participants Part III - Jenelle Jakobsen

I suppose that it's time that I properly introduce myself. I am Jenelle the blogger, general social media wrangler, Dashiell wrangler, Seema wrangler, felter, cooker, spinner, driver, washer, importer, supporter etc... Seema brought me in from Canada to help with the project. I first started working for S as her studio assistant while I was getting my Bachelor of Fine Art degree from the University of Regina. We worked on a glass tile mosaic that she created for the SNRA building in the Cathedral Area in Regina.

(S and I in 2005 working on the glass tile mosaic. Check out my outfit - Harry Potter tee!)

I then became her cat and house sitter for a while before her and her husband, Steve, and cat Mack moved to Ireland on sabbatical. They have since produced a lovely little boy named Dashiell whom I have been helping care for during Seema's residency here. It's not much different than taking care of a cat.

I first became interested in the fibre arts when I was working at the Prince Albert Arts Centre almost ten years ago. There was a very active Spinners and Weavers Guild there whom I befriended and spent time with while they spun, wove and felted. I did take some workshops with them and developed a passion for felting, needle felting in particular. I am hoping that I am bringing some of that knowledge to this project.

I am enjoying my time immensely here, especially driving on the other side of the road. I will be sad when I have to leave.

(Me spinning with a drop spindle in downtown Carndonagh)

Spinning at the Cafe Donagh

Yesterday we infringed a bit on Ruth's knitting group (the Yarn Spinners of Inishowen) with a spinning wheel as well as some drop spindles. We sat down with Michelle who was quite keen on learning how to spin. Seema brought up her Ashford wheel (which we have been carting around in her little car for a week!) and gave Michelle a few lessons. She did catch on very quick and I just got a message from her saying that she has already been looking at wheels on eBay!

People were quite curious about what we were doing. This proved to be a great way to tell people about the project and the workshops that we will be holding next week. We hope that a lot of people make it out!

Friday, August 20, 2010

New Studio Space!

Today we just secured a studio space to set up spinning equipment for ten weeks right in downtown Carndonagh!

We will be located between Dougherty's and the Persian Pub in the old Pretty Windows space right across from the diamond. Drop by if you see someone inside spinning away. We would love to have the company!


Six bags of fleece arrived yesterday. Mervyn Norris from Trean House Farms graciously dropped it off for us at our little rental house just outside of Malin. We are anxious to start cleaning and carding the wool in preparation for next weeks spinning classes and "spin in" next weekend. Keep your eye on the blog for more details!


Invite all of your friends!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Meet the Participants Part II - Ruth McCartney

Ruth is an Inishowen woman, born and bred. She grew up in Moville and currently resides in Carndonagh. She most recently established the 'Yarn Spinners of Inishowen' knitting circle. She became involved with the Carbon Footprint Project when Seema stopped by the knitting circle one day and taught the group to spin. Ruth had already been an avid drop spindler and promptly became hooked on spinning on the wheel almost as soon as Seema showed her the joys of using her Ashford wheel. Now Ruth spins when she should be doing other things and buys wheels and fleece instead of food.

Ruth has been our local 'in' on the project and has truly been invaluable. We appreciate every ounce of work and enthusiasm that she puts into it and wouldn't possibly know what to do with out her!

Free Spinning Workshop in Carndonagh.

We are going to be holding a drop spinning workshop on Tuesday, August 24th from 1 - 5 pm at Colgan Hall on Chapel Street in Carndonagh.

We are really excited to get this going and are hoping that you will be able to join us. This free workshop includes wool and a drop spindle for you to take home. Please feel free to just drop in between 1 and 5 pm. It should only take an hour for you to learn how to spin. If these times don't work for you we would be happy to organize a time in the evening that you would be able to attend. Please just send me a message and we can work something out.

Here is a link to the facebook event please join our group to learn more about the project and about subsequent workshops in Moville and Buncrana. Be sure to tell all of your friends who live in these communities! http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=141806529192659

Please feel free to email us with any questions at carbonfootprintproject.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meet the Participants

Say hello to our main providers of the project, the sheep from Trean House Farms!

Carbon Footprint and the Lovely Weather Artist Residency

The Lovely Weather Project is a thematic residency sponsored by Donegal County Council Public Art Office along with Leonardo/OLATS. The purpose of the residency is to explore how art can address issues around global warming and climate change, specifically in County Donegal.

Carbon Footprint is a multi-disciplinary project devised by the Artist in Residence for the Inishowen area, Seema Goel.

Seema’s project, Carbon Footprint, uses wool and spinning as the primary metaphor to articulate the intrinsic relationship between climate change and economics. Locally, sheep wool has become valueless and is a zero profit material for the farming community. Yet this material has incredible versatility, history, and worth if explored. This project works to rejuvenate the use of local wool framing it as a political act that separates the green house gas emissions graph from the GDP graph.

Seema’s piece for this residency depends on the help of local residents in the Inishowen area. We will be putting on a series of workshops in Buncrana, Moville and Carndonagh next week to teach people how to spin the wool on simple drop spindles. This skill will then be used on August 28th from 3-5 p.m. as part of a concurrent public performance in each community where people will be spinning in front of empty storefronts.

All the wool will later be knit into socks that will be part of the gallery show in Letterkenny in November.