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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.


It is said that art is born of the observation and investigation of nature. Observing and finding solace in nature is something many people have tuned in to over the past turbulent year. We, as a collective of artists, have been very fortunate to be welcomed into the wonderful gardens of Jimi Blake at Hunting Brook and June Blake’s Garden, both just outside Blessington. We had the opportunity to respond to the gardens over the seasons and to spend time among the creative and imaginative planting schemes of these inspiring gardeners. The culmination of our work is an open-air exhibition across the two gardens which opens on 18th August.

The artworks will be integrated into the landscaping, to add to the vibrancy of the planting but not to detract from it. We see our work as a creative reflection to the natural world found in the gardens, not just in the stunning colours of high summer but also to the more subdued and quiet time of dormancy and decay in winter. Making textile and mixed media artworks that can withstand the rigours of display outdoors has been a challenge, but a challenge we have relished .

The gardens are within a few hundred yards of each other which makes following the art trail through both gardens a pleasurable day out. Anyone who is interested in gardening will know of these world renowned gardens but, even if you don’t know your cranesbill from your pelargonium, we hope you will find the time to visit during the three weeks of the exhibition. The opening times for each garden differ slightly so please see the details above. There is a small entrance charge to each garden via an honesty box. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Spirit of the Season

Getting into the spirit of the season yet? There is a bit of work involved in doing that – especially getting all that Christmas decorating done!

Something Red, Elaine Peden, element15
Something Red, Elaine Peden

We have made some small contribution to the festive decor in Las Rada Wine and Tapas Bar, Naas by hanging some new artwork in their gallery space. Whilst our work does not have a festive theme, it does have a bit of a red and green thing going on – in keeping with the colours of the season !

Kintsugi, Eimear Molony, element15
Kintsugi, Eimear Molony
element15 in Las Rada, Naas
‘The Bookkeeper’s Daughter’, Barbara Seery
and ‘The Chair’ Pauline Kiernan
Leap’, Marie Dunne

Las Rada Tapas Bar, New Row, Naas East, Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland Phone: 045 879 978 www.lasradas.ie


We would like to invite you to an exhibition of new work. We are honoured to have Mary A. Kelly to perform the official opening. Mary is a contemporary Irish artist and filmmaker and the winner of many awards, including this year’s RSCI Art Award.

Each piece in this exhibition was created in response to a poem or song lyric that has a particular meaning for the artist. Some poems are well known, some obscure, some are very contemporary, some very personal, and one has been written especially for the exhibition.

We hope you can join us for the opening reception on Sunday, 3rd November, 2-5 p.m. or drop in to see the exhibition during its two week run.