When I was about 15 years old I discovered Claude Monet. My art teacher opened the windows of wonder for me with his beautiful violet colours and painting style….what a combination and I was hungry to see more of his work. I didn’t know then the path my life would follow, into the world of colour and texture, and that Monet would accompany me along the way.
But accompany me he has, and this collection of handcrafted designer scarves is now my signature collection.
My loom was set up in our cottage after some time away from it. I’d ordered my first box of yarn which I excitedly spread on the floor. I sat in the middle of the cones of colour and thought ‘what next’. Inspiration came in the form of a book I’d bought about Claude Monet. I draped swatches of coloured yarn across the beautiful Impressionist paints. The muse had struck and continues to inspire me daily as I dye and weave. Hence Wearable Art ~ Inspired by Art
This collection is inspired by County Monaghan Poet Patrick Kavanagh.
‘My Kavanagh Musings’
A poet came to visit our school when I was a young one of about twelve. A Cavan poet, called Tom McIntyre. He spoke. I was enthralled. I think he was doing a reading in the school that day, probably for the leaving cert students. I drank in his presence…a real living poet….And then….I was aware he was speaking to me, I quickly focus my eyes and he is telling me that I had “a typical Monaghan face, with a ‘far away from home’ look in my eyes”. I think that the poet saw something in me….maybe a bit of that Monaghan ‘quareness’.
Well this came back to me recently as I thought about Patrick Kavanagh, his poetry and his ‘place’ in Monaghan. I grasp his emotions about Monaghan. And then my thoughts go to a wonderful evening spent at Annamakerrig….and a performance by the Abbey players of ‘The Great Hunger’, a very special adaptation of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem by none other than Tom McIntyre. We got a lift there that evening with Tommy McArdle, one of ‘The Twins’ and another great man of words from Monaghan. There followed a ‘dance’, with music provided by The Glen Miller Legacy. What a night of swing amongst the spuds!
As I began to think about making scarves for men, I took my inspiration from our very own Patrick Kavanagh. I started out with staple colours such as earthy browns and greys, as well as lush greens and rich reds. These colours are suggested to me by Kavanaghs’ works of poetry. As well as referencing the stony grey soil of Monaghan, the browns of the ploughed farmland and the greens of the rolling drumlins featured prominently in Kavanagh’s words.
There is nothing finer than a well-dressed man wearing a scarf, in my opinion! A Kavanagh inspired man’s scarf, woven with fine cotton and Donegal tweed wool, makes a great addition to any man’s winter wardrobe, regardless of age. They are a stylish accessory to wear with a cosy winter coat, for both smart and casual dressing.
But the Men’s Scarf Collection includes more than the relatively traditional Kavanagh scarf. It also includes more contemporary styles like the ‘Inspired By’ scarf which is 100% cotton and the ‘Renaissance Wrap’ which is woven in softer shades of silk and merino wool.
I love to watch a man putting on a scarf for the first time. Even if he is unsure of ‘how to wear it’, he will generally ‘clasp it’, wrap it on, tap it and say ‘how’s that?’ and it looks great! If it feels good on, and it is a colour that likes him, he will look fabulous.
The Renaissance luxury wrap collection is inspired by the wonderful lace making heritage of County Monaghan. To the north of the county we have the crochet Clones lace and to the south we have the applique Carrickmacross lace. In tough times these skills played a vital role in the survival of families and thus they are an important part of who we are in these parts. A perfect tie-in to the ‘Tale of Two Worlds’ theme of Ireland’s Ancient East.
As an enterprising textile design graduate in the 1980’s, I wove webs of tweed fabric for Cleo Ltd on Kildare Street in Dublin. But this was not traditional tweed but rather a fine woollen lace tweed. It was thrilling to see it tailored into Cleo’s beautiful ladies suits for the Japanese market. Unknowingly I had absorbed the heritage of lacemaking into my soul. My work had become a part of the story.
My part of that story continues with the Luxury Renaissance Wrap Collection.