element15 is a collective based in Co. Kildare; individual artists developing their own practice in tandem with each other, distinct but connected.
The collective provides community, a creative space in which to share knowledge and engender diversity of ideas. We encourage each other to explore new ways of working and thinking and to embrace the outcomes that result from experimentation. There is also a mutual challenge to being part of this group; the energy of one individual can push us to strive, to grow. Whilst our roots are in textiles, our creative instinct has led us to encompass many different materials and processes in our work, so that now we have a truly multi-disciplinary practice across a range of media.
We explore subjective themes such as connection, fragility, emotion and memory, giving visual expression to an idea through intuitive making and choice of materials. When we undertake site specific exhibitions we research and immerse ourselves in the location looking for that spark, that thread of connection that brings forth a concept. It is important for us that the story we tell is authentic, that it has an emotional or personal honesty/depth. That story, as it is explored, may become abstracted and ambiguous, with many layers of interpretation, but it will always hold that emotional thread connecting it back to its maker.
The act of making is an intimate relationship with the materials we use. We value textiles for their tactile nature and openness to change, to becoming a new entity. It is wonderful to witness the alchemy of natural processes such as rust, eco dying and exposure to the elements bring about a transformation on, for example, a piece of linen. And then for that artist to work further on the piece, extending its potential.
By observation and drawing we connect with nature through spending time in our local environment: we feed the artists’ natural inclination to gather materials, allowing us to use found objects, both in our work and as inspiration or a starting point for what could be. The journey of a concept through the stages of research and construction is a contemplative process and can be a solitary one. Bringing the resulting artwork to public view is one that benefits from the collective support of fellow artists.
element15 GROUP EXHIBITIONS
|2022||Kinship||Sculpture in Context, Botanic Gardens, Dublin|
|2021||A Year’s Turning||Gardens of Jimi Blake at Hunting Brook and June Blake at Tinode|
|2020||Impenetrable||Online Exhibition for Kildare Culture Night|
|2019||Resonance||Inniscara Bespoke Framing and Gallery, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin|
|2018||Echoes II||Inniscara Bespoke Framing and Gallery, Rathcoole, Co. Dublin|
|2018||Echoes||Castletown House, Celbridge, Co. Kildare|
|2016||Life Lines||McAuley Place Arts and Culture Centre, Naas, Co. Kildare|
|2016||Linked||Watergarden Gallery, Thomastown, Co. Kildare|
|2015||Year’s End||Straffan Antiques and Design Centre, Straffan, Co. Kildare|
|2015||Strata||The Blue Egg Gallery, Wexford|
|2015||Connection II||The Gallery, Ballyroan Library, Co Dublin|
|2015||Connection||Rua Red South Dublin Arts Centre, Dublin 24|
|2014||Designs on Nature||Carlow Arts Festival, Carlow|
|2014-21||Artists in Residence||Las Rada Wine and Tapas Bar, New Row, Naas, Co. Kildare|
|2016-17||Artists in Residence||Two Cooks Restaurant, Sallins, Co. Kildare|
|2012-17||Annual Exhibition||McAuley Place Arts and Culture Centre, Naas, Co. Kildare|
Hannaleena Ahonen: I grew up in Finland where we have a strong culture of handicrafts and traditions around them and that has had an influence on my work now. In addition to that I have been influenced by the Irish love of beautiful colours. I am inspired by nature, forest, natural materials and I am also inspired by the imaginary world. I have challenged myself to design all my own work, and to try new and different techniques. The members of element15 and the skills I have learned with them have been a great inspiration.
Fidelma Barton: I am a mixed media artist working mainly with paint mediums. I enjoy experimenting with different ways of manipulating paint on various textiles. I find myself inspired by everyday things like the allure of the moon and the night sky, to the seashore and my love of beach combing. These influence my designs and my main colour palate of natural tones, creating a sense of calmness and tranquility in my work. I am always looking to enhance my artistic abilities, extend my knowledge and gain experience in different areas of art. Being a member of element15 gives me this opportunity. Over the course of my artistic journey, I have worked with various other mediums such as glass, ceramics, felting, weaving, paper art, and many others.
Catherine Dowling : I am a fibre artist with a background in knitting and crochet; I work mainly in felt but also use stitch and beading as a means of drawing and embellishing my work. My intention as an artist is to create beautiful fibre objects and I mainly produce framed work, rugs, wall hangings and occasional wearable pieces and jewellery. I am primarily inspired by the visual and atmospheric elements of the natural environment. The patterns, colours and feelings inspired by nature act as an endless resource for my artwork.
Marie Dunne : I am an artist whose creative practice includes mixed media, sculpture, painting, felting and stitch. My love of textiles began while training at the Grafton Academy of Dress Design. I am inspired by the natural world and all its colour and texture. I have an interest in Irish folklore, myths and legends. Using a variety of materials and being open to exploring new processes allows me to experiment and often my work is driven in a new direction by the chance discovery of a new effect.
Caroline Fitzgerald: I have always loved working with natural materials, wood, marble, metals, cotton or silk. After almost 20 years of working in Interior Design, I now enjoy a new way of channeling my creativity using these same materials but interpreting their shapes and textures in paper, textile and stitch.
Kathrina Hughes : My passion for textiles has evolved from the practicalities of dressmaking to a more varied and creative form of textile art. Working with a variety of materials and media allows me to exploit each medium to create an individual and unique piece of work. The materials vary from raw wool and silk fibres to create a piece of felt, or some painted and dyed fabric embellished with stitch. My inspiration comes from the natural world around me. Just as with the process of life and the seasons I see and embrace my work as a creative journey.
Dee Kelly: I had an interest in sewing and craft work from an early age as the skills have been handed down through generations in my family. As a teenager I had a summer job in a fabric shop where I learned about the properties, textures and myriad uses of fabric, wool and trimmings. In 2009 I did a workshop with Feltmakers Ireland which opened my eyes to the wonders of felting and I was immediately addicted. I started exploring stitch, printing and mixed media in 2010 so that it could be incorporated into my felting work. As I always loved hand stitching and embroidery, this seemed like a natural progression for me. As a result, my work has moved more and more in the direction of stitch and mixed media in recent years.
Pauline Kiernan: I am an artist with a background in dressmaking. I completed a Certificate in Visual Art from NCAD Dublin in 2016, where I fell in love with textile art and went on to complete the Art Textile Special Purpose Award Level 8 course at CIT – Crawford, College of Art and Design, Cork in 2018. I am in the final year of a BA (Honours) in Contemporary Applied Arts in CIT, Cork. I work with a variety of media and materials and I love to explore new techniques.
Eimear Molony : With a background in Horticulture and Community Arts Practice, Eimear engages with her experiences and environment through the media of sketchbook and textiles. Her sketchbook work allows heightened interaction on a micro level. She also uses her sketchbooks as inspiration for textile installations, constructed through cloth manipulation and dry felting, using machine and hand embroidery for mark making.
Helen McLoughlin: Concerned with materialism and the throwaway culture, Helen works with recycled and found materials, low value building products and organic matter, often in combination with photography. Searching for the aesthetic in the unusual, she takes photographs in her immediate environment and having identified the core of an idea, allows her materials to lead the work. Photography enables her to look at the bigger picture and to focus in on smaller details and shapes. Her current body of work is concerned with barriers in relation to privacy and security, and the fragility of our existence. Her work is predominantly sculptural in nature. Helen completed a Visual Arts Certificate in 2019 and a Diploma in Art & Design in 2020, both at the National College of Art & Design.
Elaine Peden: I am a felt maker with a background in community arts practice, having completed a post grad in Arts in Health. Joining element15 encouraged me to explore different mediums and processes and, once again, engage with stitch. Fibre, cloth and thread are the mediums I use to tell my story working mainly with natural fibres, found and reusable materials. Colour, texture and surface design play an important role in my work. I am currently inspired by the sea, both as an artist and a cold water swimmer, and I incorporate drift wood, sea glass and stones into my textile pieces.
Colleen Prendiville: I am still intrigued by the potential of working with textiles. How, by using fabric, stitch, wool, cotton, found objects etc., such a range of effects and beauty can be achieved. My inspiration comes from various sources – often based on forms and patterns found in nature and also in man made structures and creativity. Art forms from South America and Australian Aboriginal art have been an ongoing interest. Recent work involves working with stitch in a more deliberate manner, the journey of making a piece a slower and more contemplative process. Japanese woodblock print on paper continues this process and provides new direction and challenge.
Barbara Seery : Barbara has always been drawn to texture, colour and patterns in textiles and creating for home and personal wear. She now relishes the challenge of using those same materials to express ideas and concepts and to produce work for exhibition. The process of starting with crisp, plain linen and distressing, stitching, altering, layering, printing and working it into something completely different. Textile alchemy! She completed a University Certificate in Visual Art Practice in 2020 and a Higher Diploma in Art in 2022 in NCAD where she explored painting, printing, sculpture and textile design. She is currently in the final year of a BA in Fine Art, Textile Art and Artefact.
Trish Webb Duffy: I have been engaged in the art of stitch and textiles since a young age. My interest was reawakened while studying for a Certificate in Visual Arts in NCAD. I went on to complete a Diploma in Art and Design in 2017. During my time in NCAD I was involved in the Evening Students Union and was on the organising committee for the CEAD annual summer show for eight years. Through this involvement I gained valuable experience of organising and curating large art exhibitions. In my own practice I favour the slow meditative practice of hand-stitching and I work mainly with recycled textiles. My inspiration comes from family stories, memories and old family photos. I am also hugely inspired by my deep love of nature in all its forms and find inspiration on a daily basis during my walks in the Phoenix Park.
Rina Whyte: My background is in textile design with a degree from NCAD but my career has moved more into the management and curation of design and art projects. I am now returning to my passion of creating, aided by the inspiration, talent and partaking in workshops as part of element15. I am inspired by both whimsical, transparent and delicate fabrics but also by heavily adorned Indian silks and luscious brocades.
Here in the U.S. I belong to a similar group of textile artists. Our interests and abilities are diverse and we are driven to explore, to ask what if? and to step outside of the safety zone. I am a dyer, especially Japanese shibori dyeing, and silk felt maker, both amazing processes. It was a delight to discover your group and see your work. Thank you for sharing.
Hi, just wondering if any of your members live near Aughrim in Co. Wicklow. Looking for someone to meet up with and share some stitching time .
I am a visual artist, painting being my main medium, with a life long interest in textile art and pushing the boundaries of embroidered and stitched pieces.
Hi Catherine, sorry for the delay in responding. Most of our members live in the Naas area or County Dublin – we do have one member in Manor Kilbride who is the nearest to you and that is a long way!! Have you thought of joining Embroiderers Guild – it is a progressive group of individuals spanning the range from traditional to contemporary work in embroidery and mixed media. They are based in Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin and meet monthly and have very good workshops and visiting facilitators. See their website.
http://www.irishguildofembroiderers.com. I hope you find a soulmate! Barbara