One of Ian Lawson's photographs from the An Lanntair exhibition
The Harris Tweed Festival 2016 at An Lanntair arts centre continues apace in August with an array of tweed related events and performances.
Writing in the Festival programme, Chair of the Harris Tweed Authority, Norman L. Macdonald, said: “The Harris Tweed Festival 2016 gives us a very special opportunity to celebrate all that Harris Tweed is right here in its heartland.
“The Festival, conceived by An Lanntair as part of the Bealach Creative Place programme and the 2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, will bring together a host of different activities, events and people involved in every aspect of the industry.
“We are delighted to be part of this and very much hope you enjoy visiting the exhibitions, taking part in the workshops, joining in with the Festival Day, taking the tours, listening to the stories and learning about the heritage of this solely distinctive product in what will truly be an ard-fheill na Clò Mòr.”
Currently showing in An Lanntair's main gallery as part of the Festival is photographer Ian Lawson's 'From the Land' exhibition. Originally commissioned by the Harris Tweed Authority for its Centenary, Lawson first showed his images in An Lanntair in 2011.
Since then his portfolio has been both expanded and refined and the 2016 exhibition is supplemented and enhanced by new photographs, artefacts, products and examples of the process from raw wool to finished bespoke Harris Tweed product and the presence of a functioning Hattersley loom.
Already island school pupils have discovered the history and story of Harris Tweed as throughout June the arts centre Outreach team, including musician Jane Hepburn and artist Sandra Kennedy, held school-based workshops to deliver an introduction to the processes and principles of textile weaving.
And earlier this month a one-week dance and performance project for young people was taken by dance tutor Julia McGhee. Inspired by Ian Lawson's 'From the Land' exhibition, the dancers learnt about choreography and created their own unique dance material, leading to a final performance.
August sees even more from the An Lanntair Harris Tweed Festival – including The Harris Tweed Festival Day on Saturday, August 13th. First up, running on Thursday and Friday, August 4th and 5th, are 'Weaving in Colour' workshops, run by Textile Designer and Weaver Sheilagh Tacey, in which young islanders can learn how to create a colour palette, as well as weave their own cloth using table looms.
On Saturday, August 6th, By Rosie maker and designer, Rosie Wiscombe, will lead the 'Individualised in the Hebrides' workshop for islanders age 14+. Using Harris Tweed, trims and found objects, participants will use a favourite Hebridean landscape to inspire the creation of multi-textured individual pieces.
Moving on and from Monday, August 8th to Wednesday, August 10th, and 'Introduction to Weaving' workshops will be held at the local arts centre. Under the guidance of Textile Designer and Weaver Heather Shield, the event offers an introduction into the basic principles and processes of hand weaving using a variety of techniques, patterns and colour combinations.
And on Friday, August 12th, Netty Sopata, designer and maker at Diggory Brown, will be leading a workshop to create and make individually custom made 'Harris Tweed Wrist Cuffs'. Saturday, August 13th, and it is all things Harris Tweed at An Lanntair as the arts centre celebrates the Harris Tweed Festival Day. The Day will be launched with the Harris Tweed Bike Ride at 10am, in which participants are set to don their tweeds, make a donation to charity and pedal their bicycle around Stornoway, all in the name of fun – please note however, booking a place in the cycle is essential.
A veritable array of free events at the An Lanntair auditorium start also at 10am, with a selection of films to set the scene for the day before Norman L. Macdonald welcomes all to the Festival Day. At 11am, Dr Mary Macleod-Rivett, an archaeology lecturer at Lews Castle College UHI, will deliver her talk 'Pre-Harris Tweed: The Beginning of Weaving in the Outer Hebrides'; followed by two archive films – 'Borve Harris' (c.1930), David Fradgley and 'The Western Isles' (1941), Terry Bishop – screening from 11.30am.
And at 12noon, it's the turn of author Janet Hunter to talk on her book 'The Islanders and the Orb', considered to be the definitive and most comprehensive account written on the Harris Tweed industry. Archive film 'Island of the Big Cloth' (1971) then follows at 12.30, before Alasdair Macleod, vice-chair of the Harris Tweed Authority and chair of the Comhairle's Sustainable Development Committee, will lead a panel discussion about 'The Industry in the 20th Century'.
At 1.45pm, the Laxdale Choir's Waulking Group deliver a re-enactment of the traditional 'waulking' of the Harris Tweed cloth – a laborious process requiring a steady pace, with rhythmic, often energetic songs, used to keep time, lift the spirit and ease the hard work. Brand Development Director at Harris Tweed Hebrides, Margaret A. Macleod, will present the company's short film 'The Fabric of Fashion' (2016), exploring Harris Tweed in the global marketplace, at 2pm; and at 2.45pm Couturier Sandra Murray MBE, originally from Lewis, will offer an exclusive and fascinating insight into the world of couture and the life of an independent designer whose creative identity is rooted in the Highlands and Islands in 'Sandra Murray Loves Wool'.
The Archie Ferguson archive film 'Harris Tweed: Kenneth Mackenzie Mill' (1977) will be screened at 3.30pm, bringing audiences up to the 4pm event, 'Spinning Yarns – tales from the working life of Harris Tweed' and brought to the Festival Day by Stornoway Historical Society.
A taster of the forthcoming An Lanntair exhibition by world famous Russian artists group Sharmanka will be revealed in a short film at 5.20pm; and at 5.30pm the day is rounded off with the 'Fashion Showcase' event – a catwalk show, co-ordinated in partnership with The Nicolson Institute, and featuring unique and vintage garments alongside work from designers and makers working in the islands today.
There will also be themed children's workshops and family activities through the Harris Tweed Festival Day, as well as displays and information across An Lanntair and live music and cèilidh event in the evening.
For further information about the events mentioned and the Harris Tweed Festival 2016, please visit www.lanntair.com, or call 01851 708480.