The last time artist Deirdre Nelson visited Helmsdale, she inspired local school children to make shoals of fish from recycled sweaters and socks during a Fish Festival.
Now Deirdre is back in the village as part of Timespan’s Serendipitous North programme as the Maker-in-Residence, exploring methods of craft in our everyday lives.
This time round she wants to uncover and map the unsung skills and creativity taking place in and around the village and is inviting local people to bring along their ‘UFOs’ to Show & Tell sessions Timespan.
“In this case, UFO stands for ‘unfinished object’, explains Deirdre who is originally from Northern Ireland and studied Embroidery & Textiles at Glasgow Art School. “Whether it’s a piece of knitting or a wood carving, it will be fascinating to find out what people are making in their free time.
“My time here is not just finding out about local crafts, it is also about discovering domestic day-to-day making in all its forms – from pots of jam to mending a fence. I know from my rural childhood in Northern Ireland that living in a remote area makes you particularly resourceful when it comes to repairs around the home or croft.
“As I’m also interested in where things are made, I’ll be turning detective and visiting local people and groups to find out if they work at the kitchen table, in a shed or workshop or by their fireside. Then we can pinpoint where all is the activity is taking place on a physical or digital map of Helmsdale.”
As well as being a sociable occasion for people of all ages, the Show & Tell sessions at Timespan will provide people with the opportunity to talk about or indeed finish what they are making. Deirdre will be collecting the stories behind some of the pieces as well as running a repair lab to bring fixers and makers together.
Deirdre is particularly interested in social history past and present as well as people’s stories. As a creative outcome of her residency in Helmsdale, she plans to create a community tablecloth based on an old map discovered in Timespan’s archive.
“Everyone can add stitches and suggest things that could be added to the design,” explains Deirdre. “The cloth is something long lasting and sustainable rather than a one-off, and the community carry on with it long after I’ve gone.”
For further information on community events connected with Deirdre’s residency visit www.timespan.org.uk
e join Deirdre as she maps the makers of Helmsdale and explores the everyday forms of making that have gone on in the village from the past to the present.
Deirdre’s Twitter account for this project: twitter.com/map_MAKING
Since graduating from Glasgow School of Art in 1992, Deirdre has pursued a parallel career in creating work for exhibition and commission and in working as an artist facilitator to various groups. Her nomadic nature and interest in communities has allowed Deirdre develop work for exhibition and on residencies both in UK and Australia. Research, humour and craft technique contribute to projects dealing with relevant social and environmental issues whilst engaging communities in the process.