Bridget Kennedy spent one month based at Heritage Centre Bellingham in July 2021. Below you can find out more about Bridget’s practice, initial plans, and her experience whilst undertaking the residency.

A consideration of timescales, so evident in the shaping of the land through geology, weather and decades of human endeavour permeates my creative process. This takes me into areas such as archaeology, ecology and geology. I use installation, sculpture, photography and video as tools with which to investigate my subject matter. The objects that I make combine traditional craft-based, hand making methods with Fine Art techniques and a DIY approach to construction. Each work is individually tailored to a site or a specific set of circumstances, so I am constantly expanding the range of materials and processes that I use.

Over the past four years I have been working with the process of weaving, through making my own looms, taking the looms into the landscape and incorporating materials from these places into the weavings. I do not consider myself to be a weaver or a crafts person as such, but I look upon weaving as a metaphor both for the creative thought process and for our relationship with the animal, mineral and plant based life around us. Coming from an exploration of mutual obligation and interdependence I am interested in how particular methods of making have arisen out of specific places. How do local resources arising from the geology or ecology of a place influence the way people relate to the world?

 

Weaving at Parys Mountain, Anglesey. 2016
Wylfa Weave Three: recycled copper wire and sea thrift, on a wooden loom, with mineralised rock, 2018 36x34cm

ENTWINED: Rural. Land. Lives. Art.

By responding to the Heritage Centre’s display of artefacts I wanted to explore how humans have interacted with this specific corner of Northumberland throughout history. Focussing on the use of tools and the transformation of raw materials, I went in search of stories that might enlighten and inspire me. From the start my attention was drawn to a set of photographs that documented the aftermath of the flooding of Bellingham in 1911. These images and the associated stories drew my focus to the Hareshaw Burn and its impact on the town of Bellingham. Hareshaw Iron Works existed for a brief period of time, roughly ten years between 1839 and 1849, transforming what is now protected as an area of ancient woodland into a site of heavy industry. The land still bears evidence of the iron ore mineral, but all that remains of the industry are the ruins of a dam in the Hareshaw burn. In order to reflect upon the transformations that have taken place in this landscape I journeyed through it with a small portable loom that was strung with yarn dyed with iron ore pigment. As I walked with this small, primitive piece of technology I stopped along the way to weave in places that I felt were significant.

My primary partnership was with Bellingham Heritage Centre and I was very privileged to be able to insert my small responses to the collection into the displays in the centre during my open studio event. However, I also worked with the Northumberland National Park facilitating a workshop with a group from Newcastle. Together we walked from the Heritage Centre to the foot of Hareshaw Burn carrying backstrap looms that we used to weave in the landscape. As we walked we gathered and incorporated small samples of grasses into the fabric of the weave in order make a record of our experience of the place.

Biography

Bridget Kennedy is a visual artist living in the South West corner of Northumberland, close to the border with County Durham and Cumbria. She is also a part time lecturer in the Fine Art department at Newcastle University, a cultural assistant at Killhope Lead Mining Museum and is in the second year of a part time practice-based PhD in the Fine Art department of Goldsmiths University. She has worked with Northumberland National Park through her involvement in the Triparks residency, resulting in a publication and an exhibition of works that toured three national parks. She has worked with VARC through the special projects fund, this resulted in the work Black Middens that was exhibited at VARC and later at the Bellingham Heritage Centre. She has also worked regularly with ACA, Allenheads, running creative workshops and producing works for exhibition. Between 2014 -18 she was part of the Power in the Land project which resulted in a touring exhibition of artworks, an archive exhibition and a bilingual publication.

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