On Thursday 23rd June, Flowerfield Arts Centre came to life with fine crafts and the sound of local stories, and songs! Local creatives shared a wonderful variety of showpieces created as part of the Northword Storytagging Project.
The launch event showcased the works of textile artist Angela Turkington (Leopard & Lily), music artists Claire McCartney & Beccy Henderson (VOKXEN), Woodturner Gerard Gray (Taisie Turning), Artist Michelle Mcgarvey, Ceramicist Sasha McVey, Storyteller, and singer-songwriter Colin Urwin. Showpieces included the Selkie Cloak, Girona wood sculpture and ‘The Witches of Islandmagee’ song.
The launch was attended by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Mayor, Cllr Ivor Wallace, who commented; “We are very proud of our Borough’s position as an iconic place within Northern Ireland. Our diverse coastal and rural landscape has influenced our creative industry and epitomises our cultural and natural heritage. Council is thankful for the opportunity to host this event and to work with Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust to showcase and engage with local creative talent, while also working in partnership with Scottish creatives”.
In addition to Thursday’s launch event, a weekend of free workshops was hosted at Flowerfield, led by the NI Northword Creatives and two of their Scottish counterparts: Jeweller Rowena Henderson (Reel and Hammer) and Kilt Maker Andrea Chappell (Acme Atelier). Both locals and visitors had the opportunity to explore our rich cultural heritage by trying their hand at ceramics, kilt making, beadwork, eco- dyeing, and song writing, creating their own interpretation of a local story.
CCGHT Chairman Graham Seymour said, “We are thankful for the opportunity to host this weekend of events to showcase the Northword project, with support from Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Flowerfield Arts Centre. This event showcases not only the wealth of arts, craft, and talented creatives we have in the Causeway Coast and Glens area but also how projects like Northword support local makers and rural businesses. It vital it is for CCGHT to work in partnership with other stakeholders, the local community, and local businesses to bring local talent to the forefront. This will enhance the offering for those that live, work, and visit our outstanding landscapes”.
Shoppers had the opportunity to get creative at the Tower Centre, Ballymena in late February. Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s new pop-up shop** hosted three creative workshops as part of the Northword Storytagging project.
The EU funded Northword project combines traditional storytelling with modern technologies to help increase the visibility and market reach of creative practitioners working in remote areas. The project is led by Robert Gordon University, Orkney with partners in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Finland & Russia. Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust and Ulster University are leading the project in Northern Ireland.
As part of the project creative practitioners have been recruited to develop new products or works inspired by local stories to bring them to life: Textile artist Angela Turkington (Leopard & Lily), music artists Claire McCartney & Beccy Henderson (VOKXEN), Woodturner Gerard Gray (Taisie Turning), artist Michelle McGarvey, ceramicist Sasha McVey, and storyteller and singer-songwriter Colin Urwin.
Graham Seymour, Chair of Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust (CCGHT); “We are thankful for the opportunity to host this Northword showcase event through funding from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Department for Communities under the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalise Programme. This showcase event is an example of how vital it is for CCGHT to work in partnership with other stakeholders, the local community, and local businesses to bring local talent to the forefront and support small rural businesses. This will enhance the offering for those that live, work, and visit our outstanding landscapes”.
**The pop-up shop project has been funded by Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and the Department for Communities under the COVID-19 Recovery Revitalise Programme. Any group interested in occupying the pop-up shop should contact Linda.Stevenson@midandeastantrim.gov.uk
Angela Turkington of Leopard & Lily in Whitehead kicked off the weekend on Friday 25th February with a “Natural Dyeing workshop”.
During the workshop participants were told the mystical tale of “The Selkie” by storyteller Kate Murphy and how Angela brought this story to life by creating an eye-catching Selkie Cloak.
On Saturday 26th, shoppers were treated to a morning of story and song with Colin Urwin, and friends. Colin explained how he brought his own story of “The Spanish Armada Tree” to life through an evocative song about a young Spanish Sailor lost from the Girona.
Sasha McVey hosted the final workshop on Sunday 27th. Families had fun making and decorating their own trio of ceramic dishes to take home, using foraged plants and leaves. Sasha told how she used ceramics to bring Alison McFaul’s story of “The Lighthouse Kitchen Cupboards” to life.
Stories shape the world we live in! Stories are a means of sharing and interpreting experiences. They enrich our lives and help form our understanding of the world. Stories connect communities. They carry traditions, values, learning, knowledge, identity, cultural and natural heritage understandings.
Stories can range from factual retellings to dramatic interpretations of events. Folklore, myths and legends help encompass and enhance our cultural understandings and pass traditions to new generations.
Story is found in all forms of human creativity, art and entertainment, including, speech, literature, theatre, music and song, comics, journalism, marketing, film, television, radio and video games.
Northern Ireland is full of communities and stories. Stories that celebrate the diversity and range of cultural heritage.
The Northword project wants to collect your stories and celebrate their role in the modern world using digital technology.
We invite you to submit a story, an image, a memory, an object or something that encapsulates any aspect of cultural or natural heritage.
We are interested in stories of all forms, shapes and sizes. A story can be told in traditional form as written word. It can also be a picture or an object with a story behind it. A learned craft, food or an ingredient used in a particular dish. A location can be a story or part of an experience to be shared.
We are looking for you to share any of these things as long as they are relevant to the culture of Northern Ireland and the wider culture of the northern region of Europe.
Oral traditions are a characteristic of many communities and have been used to entertain, learn and pass traditions between generations. Spoken word also caries voice and dialect giving them special resonance and power.
Pictures can tell their own stories and convey deep information about emotions and events. Pictures can be enhanced through captions and context to evoke a memory, a place or a period of time.
Objects can hold special importance to family, tradition and cultural heritage. They can be handed down through generations along with the story and connections to people and the past.
Landscape and the environment, whether natural or built, are powerful sources of stories, myths and legends. People are inextricably connected with places and environments. Landscape, places and buildings often serve as the inspiration for stories.
The Storytagging project and Northword brand is developing a digital platform to present stories that celebrate northern cultural heritage. Stories and submissions will be tagged and made available via a mobile application for Android and iOS devices. The application will allow users to access, interact and upload new stories to the project.
A curated selection of stories will be enriched with a variety of digital multimedia through a series of partnerships with local creative practitioners. These stories will be utilized to enhance or develop new products in craft, digital marketing and tourism sectors.
Storytagging is funded by the Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme 2014-2020. The project is led by Robert Gordon University Orkney. The project area spans Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland & Russia
The StoryTagging project combines traditional storytelling with modern technologies to help increase the visibility and market reach of creative practitioners working in remote areas.
The project will develop a digital platform (both a website and Apple and Android apps) that will allow creatives to harness those stories that make Northern regions distinct: place, identity & community; folklore; cultural heritage; landscape & natural heritage.
Northword is the brand name that will be adopted for the digital platform.