Meeting the six creative practitioners in Ireland

Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust Project Officer Tiérna Mullan takes to the road to meet the six creative practitioners from the Causeway Coast & Glens and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council areas

Causeway Coast & Glens Heritage Trust Project Officer Tiérna Mullan took to the road recently to meet with the six creative practitioners from the Causeway Coast & Glens and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council areas that are involved in the “Northword Creative Practitioners Call”. Each will develop a new showcase piece inspired by a local story. The stories celebrate the history, archaeology, traditions, folklore and landscape of the Causeway Coast and Glens area. The first stop was to meet with Colin Urwin, Professional folk singer, storyteller, and songwriter from Glenarm. Colin has taken inspiration from his own recitation of “The Spanish Armada Tree” and will be bringing the story to life through story and song. Colin informed us that he plans to visit the Tower Museum in Derry to explore the story of the Spanish Armada ship La Trinidad Valencera which sunk in Kinnagoe Bay, from there he is going to Lacada Point where the famous La Girona came to grief. He will also be visiting the Ulster Museum to see some of the treasures that were recovered from the wreck of La Girona as these will be central to the story he has in mind. With the various elements collected he will then begin to piece together the story of a young Spanish Sailor lost from the Girona. All this will provide the inspiration for the song he will also write. Our second stop was spent with Ceramicist Sasha McVey, Sasha told us about her recent visit to Rathlin Island; the only inhabited offshore island of Northern Ireland to meet with Alison McFaul writer of "The Lighthouse Kitchen Cupboards" story that Sasha has chosen to bring to life through the Northword project. Videographer Rich Osborne was on hand to document the entire journey. Following the visit Sasha commented "my research trip was full of nostalgia of lighthouse keeping on the island and their way of life. My next step is to bring my ideas together and research the various processes and techniques which I will use to bring this amazing story to life". We ventured slightly further along the Coast on our Northword road trip on Thursday to meet with Angela Turkington, textile artist from Leopard & Lily in Whitehead. Since our last catch-up Angela has been researching different versions of Selkie stories and has recently connected with Kate Murphy- author of “The Selkie” story that Angela will be bringing to life through the Northword project. She told us her plans for the next couple of months including, visits to Beach Road Dye Garden as she plans to use some natural dyes in parts of The Selkie Cloak and try out different techniques to colour and manipulate fabric. Angela will be mainly working with silk and linen as these are natural fabrics that are easy to dye. She’s recently tried out rust dying on plain white silk to achieve an effect and colour that is reminiscent of kelp and seaweed. Throughout her Northword journey Angela will be creating a progress record book to document the creative process. Angela also plans to construct a mock-up or toile of The Selkie Cloak using plain calico to enable her to finalise the shape and make any design adjustments. She will also spend some time researching different types of silk and linen and planning her visit to Ramore Head soon where the fisherman first glimpsed the Selkie. The fourth stop on our Northword road trip was to meet with Gerard Gray of Taisie Turning in Ballycastle. Gerard plans to commence the development of his showpiece in September to bring “The Spanish Armada tree” story to life. In the meantime, Gerard is spending his time researching online and hoping to find some inspiration to help him with carving the different sections of his wood carved piece. Gerard will be making his showpiece from the Armada tree to create something memorable and is currently practicing using different cuts of the tree, putting some sketches together and arranging meetings with the Girona Group in Portballintrae. Our fifth stop off was to meet with Claire & Beccy from VOKXEN in Coleraine. These ladies are bringing "The Witches Stone" story to life through song and a music video. They’ve laid down the vocals, bass & harp lines for their Witches Stone song. They also workshopped some shadow puppetry ideas for the accompanying music video for the piece! They've been working closely with project Videographer Rich Osborn to capture their Northword journey. For the rest of the month, they will be finessing harmony lines, percussion & mixes in the studio, as well as exploring some music video edits! Our final stop was to meet with local artist, educator, and design consultant Michelle McGarvey in Coleraine. Michelle has chosen to bring the story “How the Salmon became King of the Fish” to life as told by Kate Murphy. Michelle has been spending her time creating mood boards and using recycled textiles, yarns made for sea plastic and discarded waste to visually tell the story of Manannan Mac Lir and How the Salmon became King of the Fish. Through her work Michelle will highlight the need for sustainability and responsibility to look after the environment. Michelle will create a children’s book and story sack to enable viewers to delve into the story and tell it from the characters point of view and to enable this story to be shared to celebrate the local heritage of the Causeway Coast and Glens area.