Weaver of Grass, Fibre artist inspired by journeys over land, sea & through time. Maker of portable museums of curiosity & baker of cake!
I live in Dunnet, on Dunnet Head, Caithness, Scotland, only 2 miles from where I grew up in the village of Brough. My artwork takes inspiration from our heritage. As both participant and instigator of arts and heritage projects and collaborations I have worked in Taiwan, South Korea, Iceland, USA, Canada, Estonia, and also exhibited in Japan, Germany, Spain, Australia, Sweden and Finland.
My artwork is varied, and is as much at home in museums as art galleries.
‘On The Mend’ – Earlier this year (2018) I was awarded (for the 2nd time), a craft residency in Newfoundland for the Crafts Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. Based at the Julia Ann Walsh Centre, an old cottage hospital, my temporary studio was in the hospital museum room. Combining the idea of hospital and textiles, I organised a community based residency, inviting the public to bring their woollen garments in for mending. I was overwhelmed by the community spirit and stories shared while mending.
I have been invited to work in Catalonia this summer (2018) as part of a fibre festival, working with international basket makers and artists to make a series of artworks from local plant fibre inspired by rock art from the area which depicts 69 figures.
Invited by Chrysalis Arts I am currently lead artist in a 2 year, slow art, artist residency project in Swaledale North Yorkshire. The residency exhibition starts its tour at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, North Yorkshire in October 2018.
2017 I was invited as one of the speakers for the symposium ‘Scottish Woven Communities’, an international gathering of knowledge, in the department of Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews as part of research by Dr Stephanie Bunn.
In 2016 I was invited to participate in ‘Managing our Natural and Cultural Heritage Assets’ in Skagafjörður on the north coast of Iceland. This was funded by ARCH, the Icelandic NET programme and Erasmus plus. I was also selected as artist-in-residence for Newfoundland and Labrador Crafts Council in Newfoundland and invited as key-note speaker for their conference ‘Using Crafts to Tell a Story’ in collaboration with the Intangible Cultural Heritage department of the Memorial University of Newfoundland, St.John’s. The conference was well received by museum, heritage, arts and also craft professionals.
Keen to learn traditional skills, research local stories, learn about conservation and care of objects, I enjoy finding inventive ways to attract new audiences while adding new information to artefacts of which little is known. As a result of my research on Robert Dick (Baker and Botanist of Thurso 1811-1866), I was invited to give a presentation about my work for the Botanical Society for Scotland at the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh and exhibit in their John Hope Gateway Gallery.
Ian Edwards, Head of Exhibitions and Events, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh:
“We are delighted that the artist Joanne B Kaar has found inspiration from historic specimens held in the Herbarium at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for this stunning piece..”
I recently solved the mystery of how Angus MacPhee made his grass garments. Angus was a crofter from Uist who spent almost 50 years in a Highland psychiatric hospital. During this time he chose not to speak – instead he wove a series of incredible costumes out of grass. This led to invitations to work at the Manchester Whitworth Art Gallery. I was commissioned by Lancashire based Horse and Bamboo Theatre, to make costumes and props, including an adult size grass swallow tail coat for their touring production ‘Angus’. The production toured for two years, to sell out shows and received rave reviews. My full size replicas are now part of the Art Extraordinary Trust collection and held in Glasgow Museums.
I organised art based fundraisers for local heritage groups run by volunteers ……..
2014 – we raised £4532.88
for Brough Bay Association and Castletown Heritage Society
2009 – we raised £1340
for Mary Anns Cottage