The Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark successfully applied for the Arts Council Rural Engagement Funding with the aim of engaging local people in rural areas to create some visual art as a response to their Geopark. This could be taking in the stunning scenery, the fabulous built heritage, or the local stories and legends.
We employed local artist and Geopark guide – Morag Donald – to run a 12 week ‘felting the landscape’ course using different Geopark locations. The first few weeks the participants visited a different Geopark location to gain inspiration, they met locals and learned about the areas, along with taking in the beautiful scenery. Morag led the participants in drawing workshops at each of the sites, along with learning some photography skills. These weeks the participants worked on individual felting projects to perfect their technique. The last 2/3 weeks were spent working on a collaborative project – one large felt landscape, with stories and legends included.
The aim of the project was to teach the skills of wet and needle felting, embroidery, drawing and photography to create individual pieces for participants to keep, and one legacy piece of textile art to be displayed in the Geopark Office in Blacklion. This piece would communicate on many levels; a legacy of wisdom and memory from the elders, hopes for the future and ways in which all can work together towards a mutually respectful and inclusive community.
The project had a multi-disciplinary approach utilising textile art, remembrance and the written word.
We each respond to the landscape in our own way and have different connections to it, however the landscape we live within connects us all, regardless of age and ignoring man made borders. The land has been here long before us and endures long after we are gone. It is a constant in an ever changing world.
Exhibition catalogues are available at the Geopark offices, MacNean Resource centre, Blacklion.
I am a visual artists who is inspired by the varied landscape of the Geopark. I love to walk and take photos which inspire my deleted and woven artworks. My creative tours combine calming time in nature with creating something to take home as a touchstone of your experience.
I put a lot of planning and thought into the project to make it the best experience possible for the participants. We had a good mix of site visits and practical workshops. We started off with a walk at Cavan Burren Park which gave the group a chance to take photos, chat as they walked and begin to get to know each other. I outlined the project and showed examples of the work they would be learning to make. Everyone was excited to start making and by the second walk at Killykeegan Nature Reserve they had made a wet felted background and had a better idea of what would work in felt and knew what to photograph for future inspiration. By the third walk at Tully Castle the group had added needle felting and stitching details to their first landscape and some were asking to borrow equipment to work at home between sessions. In the remaining sessions in the Market House the group were gaining confidence in their artistic abilities and felting skills. I encouraged constructive comments between members and they became a lovely supportive group for each other. Each week I read a poem and then we would have a check in with the group passing around my talking stick. I received wonderful feedback during the check ins that people were really enjoying the mix of being on the land and then interpreting it in textiles, enjoying the social aspect of making new friends and enjoying learning new skills and being creative. In the background I would play nature sounds, water and birdsong which was soothing and helped the group feel more immersed in the landscapes they were creating. Everyone made at least two pieces, one for the wall hanging and one to frame and keep. Some made three or four pieces. When we worked on designing the wall hanging and attaching the work there were lots of great ideas coming from the group for footprints and words to be added. The Whatsapp group was also a useful place to share work in progress and ask questions about the work for those who were working on at home or missed a week. Again people were very encouraging of each other. As a workshop facilitator I am always learning from my students and they had ingenious ideas such as adding buttons for rocks and working in jute to represent grasses. The pieces created are beautiful and all unique to the various characters who created them and their response to the places we visited. The wall hanging truly represents the group and the special time we spent together. It was a very enjoyable and rewarding project to run with such a lovely group of people.
I seen this project advertised on Facebook. I thought it was a great opportunity in my early retirement to learn more about my landscape and develop my creativity through felting. I do not have an arts background but as a previous social worker, I recognise that spending time in nature and with other people can bring healing and hope. I particularly enjoyed our visit to Tully Castle. Surrounded by the history of the Castle we took time to look at the moss on the ancient stones, the variety and colours of the emerging wild flowers, the momentary sparkling and then dark water of Lough Erne. With the help of Morag and other participants I tried to reflect this in my felting pieces. I learned more about this craft, enjoying the texture of the wool and how it can be shaped but also as a group we also learned more about each other and how we are shaped by our histories and current circumstances.
I count taking part in this project and living in this area a real privilege. Thank you to all who made this possible.
I’ve always been fascinated with wool and I love art – it was a lovely opportunity to get to attempt to express the beauty of the landscape in felt, a medium I hadn’t really worked in before.
My favourite site visit was Tully castle – a beautiful Castle and walk
I live in Drumshanbo so just outside the Geopark, but within commuting distance!
I very much enjoyed the project, and met some lovely people.
As an Art Facilitator I don’t often get a chance to create my own work. This course enabled me to combine my two passions in life… walking and wet felting / needle felting.
I live about 40 miles from the Geopark and enjoyed all our visits to it.
As you will see from my work I have had a chance to create a couple of textured wet felted pieces incorporating fibre textures and further detail using needle felting.
Designs are created from my photographic references taken around the Geopark.
I chose to take part because I had done some small wet & needle felting projects & wanted to progress. Was fascinated by the beauty of our little piece of the world being created in felt. I love to create and wanted opportunities to add to my creative skills & learn lots of new things. I thought it was great to have 12 weeks to work on this project & have a number of end results/pieces. Being part of a group was brilliant too – I’ve learnt from the others, as well as from Morag our very talented facilitator. She’s so lovely & has a lovely way with her. I loved driving to Blacklion weekly & the 2 ladies were lovely in the Market House. My favourite site was the Burren – I’d never been before & it was so beautiful & historical. I loved walking it & taking photos too. We live in such a beautiful part of the World!! I’d never been before. Want to visit new places.
I thoroughly enjoyed the project. I was so delighted with my creations. Was brilliant being able to create canvases of our diverse surroundings. Nature is amazing & learning how to capture what we saw in a felted piece was wonderful! It was a very social thing too. Looked forward to it each week.
Why did you choose to take part in the project? I wanted to get back into my photography as I lost my way over covid.
-What is your favourite site you visited? Killykeegan is my favourite.
-What is the best thing about living in the Geopark? The vastness of the sites.
-Did you enjoy the project? Yes loved the felting.
I chose this project to get out of my creative comfort zone.
Cavan Burren will always be my favourite Geopark site, but the view from Marlbank is breathtaking and Killykeegan will be re-visited.
Just one best thing? Try living in the modern world, but rubbing shoulders on a daily basis with the mythic. The land feels ancient and enduring; out of some geological chaos such beauty was born. That feels very comforting. I enjoyed this project immensely, not just the creative muscles getting flexed, but also being in the same room with a group of people working on both individual and a collective piece of work.
I chose to participate in this course because I enjoy other wool crafts like knitting and crocheting. This was a new skill to learn and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge! The added bonus was learning how to photograph and interpret these photographs by sketching and “painting “with wool. Our visit to Killykeegan was particularly enjoyable as we saw the ancient art work on the stones. The entire course was a perfect mix of nature, history art and culture.
I like to try new things and see new places. I like nature and the possibility to meet new people and make new friends. I like to be in nature and in fresh air and in good company.
My favourite site we visited was Tully Castle, but all places were beautiful in a different way. The guides were very knowledgeable on the history and different facts of the area.
I live in Enniskillen and try to travel and visit as many places as possible.
I really enjoyed this project – 200%!!
12 week 'felting the landscape' course using different Geopark locations
Discover and explore a swathe of countryside extending from the northern shores ...