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Missing in (in)action

Apologies for the lack of contact – it has been a long time since we posted to the blog. We took a break from meeting as a group for the summer and are now back together again to work on our next project. And what an interesting project it is ….. but I can’t reveal all, just yet. The culmination will be an exhibition in the Coach House, Dublin Castle, next September….. a wonderful location to show work. Thanks to the OPW for giving us the opportunity.

We have started to sketch out ideas in our notebooks and to do sampling of possibilities or techniques that might eventually lead to a finished piece or evolve into a finished artwork …. here are some images from our September get-together. Well done to those who have already created such interesting textures and patterns – some of us need to catch up! More updates soon.

Soya Milk and Pigment to colour cloth.

Recently we were treated to a taster workshop on using soya milk and natural pigments to colour cloth. Colleen had attended a full workshop during the summer with textile artist, Claire Benn in the UK and was willing to share her knowledge with us. The sharing of skills and techniques within our group is an important part of being a collective. It takes the mystery out of something that can seem daunting and allows further exploration within a structured course if the process appeals to one. Dying of cloth can involve many chemicals and solvents that are not good for the environment so it was great to sample a method that is more environmentally friendly.

Using soya milk as a binder for the pigment is a cheap and ecological alternative to using acrylic binders. Soya bean is rich in protein which has adhesive like qualities and, when made into a milk, it bonds with the fibres of the cloth. To make the milk you soak the soya beans overnight and then blend into a milk.

This method is suitable for use on natural fibres, both cellulose (linen, cotton, viscose/rayon) and protein fibres such as silk and wool. The fabric must be scoured before use to remove the size or dressing used in the manufacturing process.

As you can see from the images we were really just playing with the process and the pigments. I don’t have any final images to show as the cloth has to be left to cure for four weeks before it can be ironed and used.

I have just outlined the basics of the process here but there is a lot more detail you will need if you are to try it yourself. Fiber Arts Take Two are releasing an online workshop in March 2023 called ‘Out of This Earth’ with Claire Benn, if anyone is interested in learning more. You can sign up to get notified of their courses and they have wonderful interviews with textile artists around the world and are a great source of information on textile art. www.fibreartstaketwo.com. Claire Benn is a textile artist, author and teacher who is passionate about landscape and the environment and you can see her work or sign up to her blog on her website. https://www.clairebenn.com.

Last Chance to see Kinship

Hi everyone,

‘In the Botanic Gardens came the season of fruit and plenty, wildflower ceramics appeared in the moonshine.

The stumps of trees sprouted wool in many colours …

In the gardens red thread roots growing from a tree into the ground put my feet solidly on the grass…’

Esther Raquel Minsky, 29.08.22


This is the last week to see Sculpture in Context exhibition in the Botanic Gardens, Dublin.  There are so many wonderful pieces of sculpture situated throughout the gardens that you could easily spend the day there.  The gallery over the restaurant is a beautiful space and houses a large number of smaller pieces in ceramics, glass, fibre, bronze and teabags!

We are really pleased that our piece, Kinship, is slowly being colonized by nature as the grass, and the odd mushroom, grow tall around sections of spreading ‘roots’.   The felted pieces, which nestle in the crevices of the fallen tree, bear the signs of insect activity, snail trails and fallen leaves.  Just perfect!    Here are a few images of it now….



Thank you to everyone who visited and gave us such great feedback.  It was an interesting adventure for us to work collaboratively on one piece.  Our thanks to the committee of Sculpture in Context for giving us this wonderful opportunity.  


Kinship in Nature

We are over the moon to have been accepted to show our work at Sculpture in Context, the longest running and most prestigious sculpture exhibition in Ireland. The exhibition is currently running in the National Botanic Gardens until 7th October. There are 169 pieces spread throughout the gardens, the indoor gallery and the greenhouses.

Our piece is called ‘Kinship’. The idea for the work came from our belief that the sustaining nature of our creative bond as a group of artists is a mirror of a tree’s root system. It provides anchorage and sustenance to flourish in a world beset with profound challenges. In many cultures, a red string or thread represents the labyrinth of connections tying together those whose lives intertwine. We worked collaboratively on ‘Kinship’, using the symbol of the red thread as a visual connection from us to the natural world, from our sculpture to the earth.

We carefully chose the location for ‘Kinship’, at the fallen Morus Nigra, as we think it reflects the resilience of nature and of humankind. The fallen tree remains firmly rooted. It survives and flourishes and shows beauty in adversity. There is another connection to this location. The Morus Nigra and the Morus Australis growing beside it, are mulberry trees, the leaves of which are food for silkworms. As textile artists, I could say we knew this in advance and that it contributed to our choice of location, but we didn’t until we arrived to install the work last week and ended up covered in fallen mulberries!

The gardens are open Monday – Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm, admission free. Our sincere thanks to the committee of Sculpture in Context for their commitment to this exhibition which is held each year since 1985.


What marketing strategy?

It has been nearly a year since we last posted an update! That is definitely not a good marketing strategy for our group but, hey, we are artists not entrepreneurs! We get stuck into the work of thinking, researching, making and learning and forget to broadcast our achievements, be they large or small. There are many noteworthy progressions made by individual members over the past year which we will share over the next while, but two developments in particular are worth shouting about now.

Since we last emailed we made a short film, of which we are very proud. Its not a Hollywood blockbuster but a quiet exploration of the diversity of our artist collective. We employed the services of Ror Conaty, a very talented and patient filmmaker who gave us all that we wished for and so much more. Ror moulded our sketchy ideas to his vision of what could be, and he worked hard to achieve that vision. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience and learned so much in the process about staging, lighting and sound. The process made us focus on how best to visually represent our diverse processes as mixed media artists and challenged us to write a voiceover that accurately reflected the essence of our work and of our group.

We are using the film to promote element15 and to submit with proposals we write for exhibitions. In fact, on the film’s very first outing for this purpose, our proposal was accepted. We will be exhibiting at a very well known event happening shortly. In preparation we have spent the last two months working collaboratively on one piece of work, details of which we will be able to share with you very soon. Here is a teaser of the work in progress:

Early days : Catherine, Fidelma and Trish hard at work

It has been wonderful to work together again in person on one project, even if it means on our hands and knees a lot of the time.

If you would like to see our beautiful film, please click on this link https://vimeo.com/696046187 Many of us are camera shy so you may see more hands visible than faces!

If you would like to know more about Ror Conaty’s work, please visit his website to see his most recent exhibition of photographs, ‘Looking Glass’, which was shown on billboards around Cork city last month. https://www.rorc.ie/looking-glass

More from us next week as we pull the strands of our exhibit together… Very exciting!