This afternoon, we spent a wonderful time at Harris House with Dawn Susan, exploring her baskets, carrying her creels and handling her intricate designs. Much conversation came forth, including from a lady who had not engaged very much with our previous sessions. She was very interested in baskets! She walked around with the creel on her back, laughing, and talked about what she carried in hers as a younger woman. Peats, seaweed and potatoes. Because she had been so interested in the baskets, she felt inspired to have a go at twining some new rope with bailer twine and she made a beautiful piece of coloured rope with Dawn.
Another lady, originally from England but an Island resident for many years, enthused about ‘muran’ the local word for marram grass and she knew all about the grass and what it was used to make, especially thatch. She found the baskets really interesting.
A few of us had a go at a willow fish. I think we made six between us. One lady in the corner wanted to watch me make one as she cheerfully wrote off every man walking past as ‘too young for me dear (giggle).’ Another lady held the fish as I weaved the pieces through before her visitor turned up to chat with her. I finished it quietly at another table and handed it back to her. The lady who made the rope helped Dawn to finish her fish and gratefully tucked it into her bag afterwards (tail poking out, comically), after she had spent some time telling us how her sister (who we had worked with in the morning on Scalpay) was the crafty sister of the family. She seemed pleased enough to have been inspired and involved on some level.
Cathy came along to volunteer and chatted in Gaelic with many of the residents, grateful for the opportunity to talk about the tasks and the baskets in their first language. Cathy made a start on a fish, that we finished in the car on the way home.
It has been wonderful throughout the Arora project work, to be able to share evening class tuition with people who have been unable to attend, for reasons of living in care centres or living in the more remote villages.
The Arora Project is just about over now, bar the completion of the DEEP dance workshops next week and the Cuimhne Symposium in a fortnight. This also marks the beginning of the Cianalas two year body of work, which will focus on research and the main projects will be based around dance, Sonic and Intelligent Textiles, and other research – rooted projects, but will still offer a similarly wide range of opportunities to share cultural and art experiences between us.