Deirdre Nelson: Artist Diary March 2013
Tern, written and performed by Mick Slaven
Copyright control Mick Slaven, 2013: www.trickyhat.com/mick-slaven.html
Riding the Breeze
Bird Yarns made a brief landing at Letham Nights in Fife late last year and managed to share the stage with Coal Town Daisies and The Bevvy Sisters.
Letham nights aims to bring high quality music to Letham Village Hall and provide a stage for local talent. They are committed to ‘creating a zero-carbon village hall and funds from these events will go towards this aim as well as frequently supporting a variety of local, national or international causes.’
Each Bird Yarns landing engages new audiences and passes on information on craft, community, arctic terns and climate change. Bird Yarns not only gained new followers but made an exciting connection to musician Mick Slaven. Mick was reminded of a piece of music he had composed while on the Isle of Mull:
‘On holiday on Mull several years ago I’d gone over to Iona for the day. It was a beautiful summer’s day and the sun was sparkling on the sea, which was rippled by a light breeze. In the late afternoon as I waited at the pier for the ferry back, I was mesmerised by the sight of a single tern daintily riding the breeze, dipping gracefully into the water to catch a fish, rising effortlessly back into the sky, continuing the search. I watched it for about fifteen minutes before the boat came and when I got back to the cottage I was staying at, I picked up my guitar immediately and came up with this piece. I tried to evoke the shimmering quality of the water, the beautiful wing form of the bird and its movement in the wind.’
Mick Slaven Mick Slaven is a session guitarist and record producer from Glasgow. A former gardener at the University of Glasgow, Slaven became the guitarist for Bourgie Bourgie in the 1980s, and was briefly a member of Del Amitri. He has worked with Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue, Eighteenth after Trinity and Pearlfishers, and wrote the music for the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh’s production of Stephen Greenhorn’s play, Passing Places, which he played live. Slaven later composed the guitar score for Gregory Burke’s play, Gagarin Way, also for The Traverse. Slaven also fronts his own band, The Leopards, who released the album They Tried Staying Calm. The Leopards did two sessions for John Peel in 1997 and 1998.
Jo Mango at the Union Chapel
Its been a while since I have posted on Bird Yarns diary . Things have been busy with other projects and in keeping up with Bird Yarns activities and popularity! Back in December, through conversation with singer Jo Mango I discovered that she was off to London to the Union Chapel to play at Daylight music organised by Ben Eshmade. Ben is a radio producer and founder of The Arctic Circle .
“Ever since their debut event at The Hayward Gallery in March 2006, the Arctic Circle have been driven by a mad passion to create concerts that are perfectly formed and memorable. They will move land and sea to bring talented musicians, composers and visual artists to London’s best venues, ensuring that each concert is a once in a lifetime event. Although they feel most at home at London’s Union Chapel, Arctic Circle produce, programme and promote events at many different venues encompassing a broad range of acts and genres. Over the last three years they have not only played host to established artists, but are always on the lookout for new talent and specialise in showcasing emerging acts on the brink of wider renown.” http://www.jointhecircle.net/ben.php
Arctic Circle and Union Chapel seemed a perfect place for Birdyarns ‘arctic terns’ to land on a journey south of Scotland so they were packed in a suitcase and travelled by train to Islington ready for a flight into a beautiful chapel: http://www.unionchapel.org.uk/.
Surrounded by musicians and sound technicians the birds flew in and waited for guests to arrive. It was wonderful to see visitors arrive and smile as they were greeted by Bird Yarns in the foyer and on stage. A lovely audience, cups of tea and home-baked cake added to the warm atmosphere at Daylight Music at Union Chapel and provided a memorable experience for both myself and our wooly flock of birds!
‘It’s hard to put into words the addition I felt that birds made in their brief flying visit to the Union Chapel and Daylight Music last year. The photos from the day may help show the joy and wonder that they created at the chapel. The unsuspecting music fans smiled and stared in delight at the intricate and beautiful knitted creatures and so did I! ‘ Ben Eshmade ( Arctic Circle)
Previous Bird Yarns landings:
Glad Cafe, Glasgow, for the launch of Jo Mango’s new CD, Murmuration, 3 November
Bird Yarns at Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, 26-28 September
Bird Yarns at The Lighthouse, Glasgow, as part of Luminate, 5-28 October
Bird Yarns brings knitters from Mull and across the UK and beyond together with textile artist Deirdre Nelson in response to the changing migration patterns of seabirds across Scotland’s islands. Working with local wool from Ardalanish, Mull, and recycled materials, the knitters created a flock of ‘lost’ arctic terns on Tobermory Pier and provided them with a Mull welcome of local food, music and poetry. Knitting kits have been developed in partnership with local producers to highlight the plight of migratory birds and celebrate local resources and resourcefulness.
Deirdre Nelson is an embroiderer and textile artist based in Glasgow, who has exhibited widely in a variety of gallery and museum contexts nationally and internationally, and has been involved in site specific works in heritage locations such as Gibside Estate Northumbria and Brodsworth Hall Yorkshire. Research and education forms a large part of her practice with extensive experience in school and community contexts. Deirdre is artist-in-residence at An Tobar, Mull, in 2012.
+ Profile: Deirdre Nelson