The Piecemakers are branching out with a new exhibition at the Halifax Minster this September. Their textile response to the Celtic Ogham Tree Calendar has been years in the making and the display was originally planned for April 2020 but was unfortunately delayed by the pandemic.
The 21 individually designed panels, each measuring 100 x 60cm, reflect the mythology, folklore and distinctive features of the native trees of Great Britain as depicted in the Celtic Ogham, an ancient alphabet and calendar including trees such as the Oak, Apple, Willow and Ash.
Vintage fabrics and donated materials were used to showcase a variety of traditional techniques including embroidery, goldwork, applique, patchwork and 3D creations, utilising the individual creative and artistic skills of the Piecemakers as weavers, stitchers, embroiderers, quilters, painters and printers.
The Piecemakers Artistic Lead, Annie Lancaster said ‘Each panel depicts one tree featuring the letter and number of the tree plus details relating to mythology, history, botany, pharmacology and religion of that tree and also highlights the importance of bees in pollination. Join us during the weekend of the Heritage Festival (11th/12th September) to add a few pieces to our large Tree design rag rug when you visit the exhibition!’
The group have worked with the local community, sharing associated knowledge and skills at various pre-pandemic events. The huge rag rug has had many people contributing, including visitors to the Shibden Hall Heritage exhibition 2 years ago ago and people attending the group’s outreach workshops.
The Piecemakers built relationships with various external groups including Calderdale Countryside Service, local primary schools and the Churches Conservation Trust through tree identification projects and craft activities. Pre-pandemic, a holiday club for adults and children during the summer break was organised and run at Copley St Stephens, thanks to support from the Churches Conservation Trust. In addition, a series of sessions at Ogden Water for adults and an after school club at Copley Primary school also took place.
These activities allowed community engagement with participants of all ages and abilities and gave the group opportunities to pass on traditional skills.
Over the last 4 years, the group has raised funds for the project, selling postcards of their work and handmade items at Shibden Hall Winter Festival, Calderdale Industrial Museum and the Calderdale Visitor Centre. Funding was gratefully received from the Calderdale Council, Skircoat Ward Forum, the Staying Well team, Norland Scarecrow Festival and this was used to pay for the room hire, artistic workshops and materials.
The 2021 Exhibition
The group recently displayed the panels at The Crafty Owl in Elland and were delighted to show the work to renowned Yorkshire based artist Kate Lycett, who kindly visited the shop/studio where the group regularly meet.
Kate Lycett said ‘Meeting you all was just lovely! I loved the work, and stories woven into it. I loved that you’d included long saved treasures; bits of embroidery and fabric and student sketches saved for decades for just this very project. It’s just the kind of thing that I do; I have drawers of colour sorted inky scraps, tiny, but too precious to discard. You made me feel like I’d found my tribe!’
The Halifax Minster team have kindly waited for the pandemic restrictions to be lifted and are excited to have the Panels displayed during the national and local Heritage Festival celebrations. The Mayor of Calderdale is attending the official opening of the Exhibition on Friday September 10th. The Piecemakers will have booklets available to purchase, explaining the exhibition. The public are invited to participate in the heritage craft of Rag Rugging, within covid guidelines.