Textiles and Ceramics
Carry Farm is home to 'The Dairy Gallery' with textiles made by Fiona from her Hebridean sheep and functional, decorative ceramics by Karen McPhail.
The Hebridean sheep is a small, native breed, hardy to extremes of weather and poor vegetation. Introducing Hebrideans to our coastal smallholding in Argyll was the obvious choice to help manage areas of rough grazing.
The naturally black fleece, sheared annually is sent to a mill for spinning. The finished yarn has a textural quality combining the rich dark black with flecks of grey from the older sheep.
It is with this yarn that I design and knit sustainable and functional textiles, with an enviable provenance, in my studio at Carry Farm. The process of caring for the sheep and ultimately making a finished product from their fleece is immensely satisfying.
A limited selection of Hebridean sheepskins organically tanned locally here in Argyll are also available.
Karen trained at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1990, and is currently busy building a new study space at Carry Farm. Her aim is to create visually satisfying object for domestic environments that have a quality of surface and pattern, and that appeal to our sense of touch. The process involves layers of bold and playful decoration while retaining the inherent warmth of red earthenware clay.
Simple forms are made on the wheel, hand built or using plaster moulds. Karen collects imagery from daily life and nature to make paper collages and, before the first firing, coloured slips are brushed on to the 'leather hard' pieces using cut paper stencils. Newspaper lettering on the final work echoes this process. Layers of applied slip produce a subtle raised decoration and can be drawn though to reveal the red clay beneath. A second glaze firing is followed by a third for the application of printed decals.