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Our work is going abroad!

Greetings from the collective of artists that are element15. Since our online exhibition at the end of September we have been trying to get the creativity moving again without our monthly meetings to offer mutual support and peer critique. It is not easy during the current level 5 restrictions but creativity will out, one way or another.

We have had some lovely enquiries about work featured on our website which has evolved into sales of both featured pieces and work not yet shown. We are very grateful for the support and encouragement that comes to an artist with the sale of their work. Below are images of the pieces that have gone to new homes in Ireland and Australia. It helps that all the works from the recent ‘Impenetrable’ exhibition are unframed so are easy to ship/post.

‘Impenetrable Forest’ | Pauline Kiernan | 28 x 28 cm

Purple Haze | Dee Kelly | 10 x 13 cm

Running in Circles | Dee Kelly | 12 x 31 cm

Nature’s Headspace | Dee Kelly | 19 x 24 cm

Secret Garden I, Hannaleena Ahonen

Secret Garden I | Hannaleena Ahonen | 25 x 26 cm

No Way Through | Fidelma Barton | 33 x 42 cm


As part of Kildare Culture Night 2020, we have mounted a virtual exhibition entitled ‘Impenetrable’.  This exhibition is a collection of work made since January 2020 and, while the theme was selected prior to the pandemic hitting us, it now seems a strangely appropriate title for work produced during this crazy year.  The full exhibition is available to view on our website :  https://www.element15.ie

Whilst the images speak for themselves, we thought it might be an idea to share some of the artists thoughts and inspiration for one of the pieces they have in the exhibition …..

Impenetrabillis, Caroline Fitzgerald
Impenetrabillis, Caroline Fitzgerald

Caroline explored the adjective, Impenetrable, in relation to its different meanings, inaccessibility – impossibility to enter, intraversable.  Using chicken wire as a metaphor for the physical meaning of the word, being caged in, fenced in.  Respecting social distance, cocooning …. while also taking another meaning from the adjective :  the impossibility to understand …. the science behind the virus, the image of Italian army lorries in convoy carrying coffins away from the city of Bergamo …. the reckless behaviour of many world leaders….    


Red Spider, Catherine Dowling
Red Spider, Catherine Dowling

Catherine’s research for ‘impenetrable materials’ brought up a link to spider silk!  It is a biopolymer and has a very high tensile strength.  A thread of spider silk can resist more pull before breaking than most kinds of steel thread.  Silk from the Darwin’s Bark Spider is the toughest and the US Army are researching making body armour from spider silk!  Spider webs are light, lacy and look so insubstantial that it is hard to reconcile that spider silk can be used to create a material that could stop a bullet!  Pretty impenetrable!  Red Spider is an abstract representation of a web.


Heart of Stone, Fidelma Barton
Heart of Stone, Fidelma Barton

Fidelma used felt, painted tree bark and air roots to represent some soils that are not fit for cultivation because of impenetrable layers in the subsoil which prevent the roots taking hold and growing.  


Secret Garden I, Hannaleena Ahonen
Secret Garden I , Hannaleena Ahonen      

Our theme brought Hannaleena’s thoughts to a dense jungle or an overgrown secret garden full of plants and colourful flowers creating an impenetrable barrier. 


Masque, Eimear Molony
Masque, Eimear Molony

Eimear’s  work evolved from a personal challenge undertaken during lockdown and in response to the Colourwheel Palette by Bob Burridge, Artist.  A play on the current word ‘mask’,  with which we are becoming over familiar, and a commentary on the bigger picture – the global versus the micro.  


Band-Aid, Helen McLoughlin

Rusted metal and stained textile gathered during a single walk, these found objects spoke to Helen of fracture and repair; wound and salve; fragility and resilience.  With minimal intervention she ‘repaired’ the work, binding the pieces together with cotton thread.  Helen’s work is largely sculptural in nature, utilising found and low value materials.


All Thawed Out (triptych), Elaine Peden
All Thawed Out (triptych), Elaine Peden

Elaine:   These three small canvases represent our frozen memories ;   thawing out, yellow and white a metaphor for light entering the small spaces which were once impenetrable. 


Impenetrable Soulmates, Dee Kelly
Impenetrable Soulmates, Dee Kelly

Dee’s work on the theme evoked thoughts of relationships, a solid bond between two people that cannot be broken;  the words being gender neutral, having no gender boundaries.  


Impenetrable Forest,Pauline Kiernan

On Pauline’s walks around her local area during lockdown, she noticed that plants had burrowed their way into the tiniest cracks in walls and pavements.  How resilient plants are that they can penetrate even the hardest substance.  If left to run wild the vegetation can become as close to impenetrable as you can get.  I overlaid photos of trees and plants and printed onto fabric, stitched and machine embroidered to create a feeling of being trapped. 


Dark Night of the Soul, Barbara Seery

In this piece Barbara delves into the maze of meandering thoughts during sleepless nights; the search for the positives in an increasingly dark world.  


Connecting Thoughts, Marie Dunne

Marie’s mixed media sculptures represent seven days of memories and thoughts during the lockdown in Ireland; each cube a day, each stitch a thought.


Home, Trish Webb Duffy

Trish explored the theme in relation to ‘home’.  When we build our homes we want them to be impenetrable to the elements.  As we live in our homes we wish both our home and ourselves could remain impenetrable to harm. Trish used slate to represent that shelter from the elements.


Rock Formation, Kathrina Hughes

Kathrina’s screen print was inspired by impenetrable natural rock formations


As a Nation, Rina White

Rina’s collages of Dublin and Italy are a record of the early days of the pandemic, using the weekend newspapers, inks and stitch to create a visual diary ;  A homage to both cities in their empty streets and their loss.


Inside Out, Colleen Prendiville
Inside Out, Colleen Prendiville

Colleen:  This piece began life as an exploration of the many and varied connections a person makes in life.  How, as a life is lived, you become a product of of all these connections and influences, often in an unconscious way.   When the work was coming to a conclusion it felt too ordered and controlled and the reverse side seemed to reflect much more the messy reality of lived life!    

Endangered – last chance to see exhibition

Last chance this week to see ‘Endangered’, an exhibition by members of Feltmakers Ireland at the Visitor Centre, Phoenix Park until 29th August.  Our own talented members, Marie Dunne and Elaine Peden, have pieces in the exhibition – beautiful colours and exquisite work …. 

‘Protect’ , Marie Dunne
Marie:   “Our world is endangered by climate change. Climate change and global warming is the greatest threat to life on earth. Our planet is warming to a degree beyond what species can handle, altering habitats and could, eventually eliminate life on earth. I chose the warm colours to represent heat and circles to represent our planets.   A  wrap to protect, to shield – a symbol of safety”.
  Elaine Peden, element15
“Dive straight in keep your eyes wide open”, Elaine Peden
We have featured Elaine’s piece before while it was a work in progress – now its time to see the finished piece in all its beauty. Elaine’s piece arises from concern about all the plastic in our oceans and how plastic particles are being consumed by fish and humans alike. 
Elaine:   “I made this piece outdoors, laying out the fibres on our long, hot early Covid summer days. My work is process led ; colour plays an integral role in my work. I chose lemon and golden yellow as my primary colour base, (a colour I have avoided until now) the sun reflecting off the sea.  The circular openings draws the eye to look inside , the ‘Blue’ luminous fabrics and silks buried in the voids , reflects deep sea dumping , microplastics, and the impact of consumer culture, mainly the use of plastics, on our oceans”.


Home, a cloth memory book

This week Kathrina Hughes talks about the piece of work, a cloth memory book, she produced for a module in Creative Embroidery in NCAD which she undertook last year as part of a Certificate in Visual Art Practice.  

“This piece was inspired by home and everything that means to me and my family, both physically and emotionally. Home has so many meanings for so many people and our very essence can be tied up with our experiences of home. 

Home, Kathrina Hughes, element15

What does home mean? Where is home? And what does home mean to you?  I explored these concepts with my family, with some clear themes emerging:

“Home is a feeling”

“It’s that warm, safe and familiar feeling”

“Home is togetherness”

“It’s where our memories of family are”

“Home is where ‘our stuff’ is… and all that stuff we accumulate over the years together”

To combine all these feelings and memories into a project that would encapsulate the feeling of home, I experimented with various collections of family heirlooms, text and images.  I created a memory book in a concertina style.  It is composed of emotive words and interpretations of childhood photos which make me feel like ‘home’.

Home, Kathrina Hughes, element15

I used a linen fabric which I eco-dyed using leaves and flowers collected from my garden; my garden is full of a lifetime of memories also. I used some oak leaves, picked from trees grown from acorns collected from family holidays.  

The stitch style is simple — hand stitching. I find this simple process adds to the personal legacy attached to home’s memories and meanings which I am trying to convey. Hand stitching also makes you slow down and enjoy the process as well as form an emotional connection with the work unfolding before you.

Many precious and beautiful memories are now embedded into the linen cloth book, a treasure of my home memories.


Identity, loss and childhood memories

Continuing to look at the work of members who are pursuing further education in the arts, this week we feature Pauline Kiernan. Pauline’s work is always deeply personal and drawn from life experience:

“I have been a member of element15 since 2018 and I am also a student in Crawford College of Art & Design, Cork. In September I am due to go into 4th year, my final year, to complete a BA (Honours) in Contemporary Applied Arts. I work primarily in textiles and print.”

“For this body of work, I wanted to explore identity, loss, and childhood memories. I drew inspiration from these memories, family photographs, old letters and my mother’s stories. Going through my late mother’s belongings of keepsakes and letters, largely relating to my late brother’s illness and subsequently death which had a profound effect on me growing up as a young child in the 1980’s.” 

“I can relate to the contemporary artist Jennifer Loeber when she states: “I found myself deeply overwhelmed by the need to keep even the most mundane of my mom’s belongings when she died suddenly”. Like Loeber I want to transform these objects into tangible evidence of my brother’s existence whilst acknowledging my mother’s struggle in losing her child.”

“The last photograph taken of my brother was in his communion suit and the only piece of that outfit that has survived was the ruffle he wore buttoned to his shirt – very fashionable in the 70’s. Keeping this in mind I decided to make several collars with ruffle pieces using old worn shirts. While experimenting with transferring images onto embellished, distressed worn fabrics with different mediums, I decided to machine embroider and hand stitch these images directly to the distressed fabric, some more successful than others”.

“In the final stages of exploration, I started to play around with the collar ruffle pieces and took detail photographs, it was like a light bulb moment! I was so excited by these images it was as if they had a life of their own! Using Wen Redmond’s digital Fiber Art as a resource I manipulated these images, layering and fusing them with collage’s I made from my mother’s keepsakes and photographs”.

“These new images explore memory and personal identity further, helping to convey a sense of loss and confusion, layering fragments of daily life, memories and stories that kept him very much alive alongside the heart-breaking loss”.