Florence Dwyer is an artist, designer and maker living and working in Glasgow. She is influenced by the processes underpinning experimental archaeology: a field of study which involves the re-making of objects through adopting the assumed techniques of their original makers. This has led her to work with various traditional craft techniques and experiment with dyeing, tufting and weaving textiles, casting, slip-trailing and glazing ceramics. This practice is underpinned by research into social and cultural histories that are commonly related to craft, industrial manufacturing and domestic design.
Before and since her time on residency on the Isle of Eigg, Florence Dwyer has been working on a multifaceted project that has taken its starting point from Shetland’s Taatit rugs. Taatit rugs are long-pile woollen bed covers. They are made from Shetland wool naturally dyed by plants found in the local landscape, creating bold, colourful designs. These designs often incorporate symbols redolent of folklore beliefs that are intended to ward off witches and evil spirits. The symbols are positioned on the rugs at points that correspond with parts of the body on which the rugs lie. The rugs were traditionally used at night, a time when you are believed to be at your most vulnerable.
Dwyer’s embodied approach to researching these contextually dense vernacular objects has involved processes of re-making, re-designing, weaving, dyeing, sheep-herding, painting and tufting. Bog myrtle, bracken, fermented ash bark, pomegranate, daffodils, hawthorn berries, dock leaves, nettles, gorse, rose-hips, blackberries, indigo, madder and onion skins have been collected and used to make dyes. The dyed wool she produces has been used to make both small-scale tapestries and larger tufted carpets. By working in this way Florence has been investigating the topics and dichotomies that Taatit’s draw upon; plant-lore, the Scottish witch-hunts, capitalism and sleep.
View/download Florence’s Cross Currents poster here.
All images courtesy of Florence Dwyer.
Image 1: Wool dyed from plants and vegetables that were grown, foraged and collected from within Glasgow; onion skins, hawthorn berries, blackberries, rosehips, dead daffodils, madder, pomegranate skins, fermented Ash bark, elder berries, dock leaves, gorse and nettles, 2020-21.
Image 2: Drying bog myrtle dyed wool.
Image 3: View of residency studio through the Sweeney’s Bothy window, Isle of Eigg.
Image 4: Sheep at the Singing Sands, Isle of Eigg.
Image 5: Working in Sweeney’s Bothy, Isle of Eigg.