Fringe: Textiles from the Edge of Civilisation
It all started with a conversation between some of the women who had taken part in the textile banner making elements of Tillidh Mi Dhachaidh, a Homecoming event organised in 2009. Nearly one hundred people had played their part in making these banners and the wealth of local talent was obvious in the quality of the resulting work. One participant glowed with pride, as it was the first time her work had been exhibited. The seed of the Fringe project was now sown.
Chris, Fran, and I then tried to think of a way of encouraging these hidden textile artists to develop their skills and to share the resulting work with the wider community. So, in the depths of the worst winter most of use can remember, we ran a number of textile ceilidhs, taking the meetings out to Elphin, Achitibuie and Badcaul, as well as the Macphail Centre in Ullapool. At these meetings, we discussed the ways in which living in the north west put us on the fringe, or edge of society, or on the edge for some completely different reason. Every interpretation of our theme was welcome and the project was open to all.
The meetings were well-attended and huge fun, with everyone swapping skills, ideas, materials, and plans. We experimented with knitting, crochet, weaving, stitching and sculpting, using materials as diverse as grass and silk. The energy created by experimenting through such a mutually supportive textile community was invigorating. This project was as much about the meeting, sharing, and progression of skills as it was about display, although over half have decided to exhibit.
One participant said; "I have been truly inspired with textiles, I've really enjoyed playing with and exploring the medium at home, I loved meeting up with everyone in Elphin on Saturday mornings and I'm looking forward to spending the future winter evenings and afternoons making something, maybe not from my initial ideas but something to do with the 'edge'."
There is much to enjoy in this exhibition, with each piece demonstrating a unique interpretation of life at the fringes or on the edge. There are both innovative and traditional interpretations of the medium of textiles, with much use made of found and recycled materials. It has been a great pleasure for me to be involved in such a worthwhile project and I hope that this exhibition will play its part in encouraging even more people to explore the creative potential of textiles and to value textiles as an important visual arts medium.
Jan Kilpatrick Fringe Lead Artist
The people who live in the communities, which fringe the north west coast of Scotland, have always been resourceful and creative.
The FRINGE project was born from Jan Kilpatrick's idea to enthuse and engage people to create artwork using textiles: hand made, manufactured, found, and recycled.
Thank you, Jan, for making it all happen. Thanks also to everyone who came along to the textile ceilidhs and produced the work for the exhibition. This is the Macphail Centre's fourth community artwork project, and the enthusiasm and standard of work of participants never ceases to amaze us.
Thank you to Sarah, Shot in the Dark, for permission to use your image for Fringe promotion.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of Highland Council, and an talla solais for hosting our exhibition.
Chris Brotherston Fran Harrison
Macphail Centre September 2010
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