Archive for December, 2012

On the Easel – Thu 13th Dec 2012

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

The Waulking -1st Painting

This is the latest progress on “The Waulking“, it’s oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches – This is around halfway to completion. This painting is part of my Harris Tweed Heritage project. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013). I’m still working on private portrait commissions which unfortunately I can’t post as they are surprise gifts!

Background Info

Waulking was the final stage in the production of a Harris Tweed. When the weaving was completed the web taken from the loom was greasy, tough and hard, so it had to be softened and thickened by “waulking” (working the cloth). During this process the tweed tightens and shrinks by several inches. The girls of the village would help each other with the job and although the work was arduous, it was a great social event. The tweed would be cleaned in warm soapy water and the door of a house would often be used as a waulking board with the girls seated on either side working the cloth back and forward. Waulking songs were used to maintain a rhythmic process and as a measure of time. A leader would sing songs in Gaelic with the chorus sung by the waulking team. It would normally take a couple of hours to get the required shrinkage and thickening of the cloth.

The backdrop for the painting is the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The models are; the Harris Girls (Shona, Kayleigh, Nanan & Kirsten), the amazing Amy from Lewis who orchestrated the girls waulking and singing and Tracey & Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

Thanks to Kathy and the staff at the Carloway Mills for supplying Tweed, Wool and access to the mill and Lorna from the Harris Tweed Authority for her help and support.

Thanks also to Catherine Campbell for all her help and support with the project and access to her aunt Marion Campbell’s artefacts, such as dye pot, spinning wheel etc, you can find out more about Marion here http://harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html and there is a lovely little book about her life written by Gisela Vogler called “A Harris Way of Life”.

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On the Easel – Wed 4th Dec 2012

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

At the Loom - Frottee

This is the start of the third painting in my Harris Tweed Heritage project. The objective is to create a series of paintings capturing the heritage processes used in the creation of Harris Tweed. This painting is called “At the Loom“, it’s oil on canvas, 20 x 16 inches – Work in Progress.

This painting will be part on my next solo exhibition at the Dundas Street Gallery, Edinburgh (June 1st to June 8th 2013). I’m still working on private portrait commissions at the moment so posting will be a little sporadic until after Christmas.

Background Info

This painting depicts the weaver at the loom. After the Warping is completed the tweed is set up in the loom and the weft is woven into the cloth in the desired pattern. All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home. The weaver will arrange hundreds of “heddles” to a specified pattern before the beam of warp yarn is “tied in” to the loom by hand. The weaver will then set up the weft threads, pulling bobbins of yarn through a series of guides to be woven into the warp threads by a flashing “rapier”. Once ready the weaver begins to weave, always observing, correcting, mending and amending their creation until complete.

The loom depicted here is a Hattersley loom. The first thirty Hattersley looms were sent to the Outer Hebrides in 1919. In 1924 the first six shuttle, 40 inch reed space looms arrived in Stornoway and this type of loom was the most commonly used loom in the islands’ Harris Tweed Industry. The Hattersley loom is still used by some of the weavers. The history of the loom innovations and developments is very intersting. There is a good overview here on the Harris Tweed Authority website: http://www.harristweed.org/blog/theweaversshed/

The backdrop for the painting is the Loom Shed at the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village at Carloway, Isle of Lewis. A beautiful and fascinating place to stay and visit, many thanks to Mairi and all the staff there. (You can find more information about this unique place here;
http://www.gearrannan.com/)

The model is Kim. Costume research and design is by Nicola Ellis.

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