Solo Exhibition: RSPB Geltsdale
In the 16th century, the rural poor would wander the fields where herds of sheep roamed, gathering bits of wool caught on bushes and brush, hoping to find enough to weave into cloth or to sell. As wool-gathering was hardly a lucrative occupation and involved a great deal of meandering around the countryside, by about 1550 “wool-gathering” had taken on the figurative meaning of “wandering aimlessly for no productive purpose’, especially in the fields of one’s own mind.
The wool used for this body of work, has not been gathered, but sheared. Like woolgathering, this is hardly a lucrative business these days, the value of the fleece barely equating to the cost of paying someone to shear it off.
For this exhibition in the old shepherds’ cottages at RSPB Geltsdale in Cumbria, several of the felt sheets were hung from the beams in the flag-stoned kitchen alongside a series of pastel drawings. These studies examine and record the subtleties of the colour and the rhythm of the curl in each small fragment of wool taken from different parts of the fleece.