Mad River Selkies
The “Mad River Selkies” Paint Torrington with Fiber by Doreen Breen
The group named “Mad River Selkies” are lovers of folklore, fantasy, fiber, art, Scotland, Torrington and for most of them working together on projects. The group was immediately drawn to the bridge and river since we have a couple of avid fishermen, a mermaid lover and a selkie follower, and were compelled to envision creating a piece incorporating our talents and loves. With permission granted from Five Points Gallery for the location, we have been meeting for a few weeks on creating the design for the approximately 75 X4 feet of bridge. The piece will include at least one selkie, mermaids, fish, squid, seahorses and other water creatures, and will tell the tale of the selkies and will be installed on June 11th as part of the Torrington Yarn Bombing.
So where did the story of the selkies come from? Our inspiration is:
“The Seas around Orkney and Shetland harbor the shy Selkies or Seal-Faeries (known as the Roane in Ireland). A female Selkie is able to discard her seal-skin and come ashore as a beautiful maiden. If a human can capture this skin, the selkie can be forced to become a fine, if wistful wife. However, should she ever find her skin she immediately returns to the sea, leaving the husband to pine and die. The male selkies raise storms and upturn boats to avange the indiscriminate slaughter of seals."
~ excerpt from FFAERIES, described and illustrated by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, edited by David Lavin
The team has six (6) major contributors. Doreen Breen, is the team leader – born in Scotland and a fabric artist. In addition: Robin McCahill – Puppeteer and fiber artist; Claudia Duhamel – artist specializing in concrete garden art; Skip Kamens – artist and graphic designer, Erin Cunliffe – artist and currently studying at University of Hartford: Hartford Art School and Karen Rossi of Karen Rossi Studios of Torrington – metal artist and mermaid lover.
Others have already offered to help, as we will need many fish – in fact schools of them – along with different sea creatures to add to the piece. Karen Rossi Studios will be offering different opportunities for the public to come in and contribute to the project. Sundays at 1pm beginning in February will be an open studio type of program, where you are invited to come in and create. In addition, Five Points Gallery is offering many opportunities to learn to knit, crochet, etc. Join the facebook page and stay updated.
As you can well imagine, the amount of textile needed to cover the bridge and create the scene is huge. So the group, instead of knitting and crocheting, is actually using recycled sweaters and blankets, which will be felted and then cut-up to create the images. Still a lot of sweater and blankets, so we have a call out for donations. The sweaters need to be wool (that includes: alpaca, mohair, cashmere, etc) and they can be in bad condition – moth holes and stains are great! In addition, we need wool blankets – the old army blankets are perfect! We can arrange pick-up or you can drop off at Five Points Gallery.
We are having lots of fun on this project and hope that others will join the excitement of painting Torrington with yarn and fiber. If you have questions or would like to contact the “Mad River Selkies” please email Doreen Breen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 860-294-1156.