Cootehill Library Textile Panels

Project Outline by Mildred Cullivan:
To make two textile panels to hang in situ in Cootehill Public Library. These should reflect historic or contemporary aspects of the town and surrounding areas. The panels to be conceived and produced by the library craft group who meet there once a week on Wednesday afternoons to work on their own individual projects.

After meeting with Catriona O'Reilly, Cavan Arts Officer and Ann O’Reilly, Culture Cavan Co-ordinator and Sinead Rice of Cootehill Library, criteria were established. I would facilitate the group and Sinead would mediate.

Before meeting the group Sinead had taken measurements of the spaces and I had made two paper panels to scale. In our first meeting we looked at pieces the group were working on themselves, this gave me some idea of their skills (mostly knit). Themes based on local landscape, linen and railway history and landmark buildings were put forward as possible subject matter. To help them visualize possibilities I brought a portfolio of my own stitched textile work to show all stages of a project to completion.

Cootehill Craft Group

The ‘research’ phase was difficult as the group had little experience of drawing/design development and it can be very daunting and time consuming! I drew up some images based on what they had collected, made some knit samples to illustrate how to interpret some of the imagery and supplied wool (based on colours we had decided on), they then started to knit and appliqué samples based on the drawings.

Work by the Cootehill Craft Group

I devised panels with three oval “windows” as these could be ‘pieced’ together easily and also allowed members to divide and manage the making between each other as appropriate. Once the group took over the making they really took ownership of the project and worked with great commitment. Over the weeks they shared skills, tried different techniques, discussed possibilities, made decisions about content etc. When I supplied the finished (canvas background) panels the group had already accumulated all the elements needed to complete the work. Overall it was a tight schedule but they really worked through their initial insecurities and gained confidence, learned how to work creatively within the group and with the support of this project. Sinead was a great support to everyone throughout.

The women sit by their work at Cootehill Library, new home of the Cootehill textile panels

Amazing ideas resulted in beautiful reflective pieces representing Cootehill

The project at times was extremely challenging

The group attend the launch of their work at Cootehill Library

The project began in April 2013 and was completed and launched in November 2013

Facilitator Mildred Cullivan speaks about the journey the group experienced during the creation of the pieces

The pieces are now displayed at Cootehill Library

Each piece represents Cootehill's history and tradition