Fabric of Place

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Fabric of Place was a Slow Art, artist in residency programme based in Reeth and the surrounding area of Swaledale. The project aimed to nurture specific audiences including children, young people and isolated older people to engage with art, sustainability and place making to help us develop new ideas and approaches for the future.

Artists involved include Joanne Kaar, Serena Partridge, Ed Kluz and Graham Taylor. The project was supported by North Yorkshire County Council’s Stronger Communities Programme and the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s Sustainable Development Fund.

Each artist worked within the theme ‘Outside In’ over the two year project. Their own work and work they produced with community groups was displayed in a subsequent touring exhibition which visited the Dales Countryside Museum, Keld Resource Centre and Catterick Library, North Yorkshire.

Community Conversations

During the project, we recorded some of the conversations had with community members. These conversations went on to inspire the fabric design on our Fabric of Place Chair. Below you’ll find a series of these conversations. Now that the exhibition has ended, the chair has returned home to its community in Reeth.

Listen to the conversations.

Artists Work

Joanne B Kaar

Lead Artist


Joanne uses traditional (often forgotten) skills and natural materials to create her art. She has exhibited all over the world and is inspired by landscape and heritage.

Joanne became interested in lichens, after attending a botanical illustration course at Kew Gardens. Studying plants for botanical illustration involves a great deal of concentration, as the completed works are to be used as botanical record,  not just decoration.  On returning home, she found that her plant specimens had often wilted before she could draw them!  She then started to notice lichen, on rocks, walls and fence-posts. A whole new world opened up!

Joanne was intrigued to find out, what, if any, differences there are in the variety of lichens found in Swaledale, an inland valley with a history of lead mining, and walks from her home on the north coast headland of Dunnet Head, Caithness. She wanted to inspire the people of Swaledale to go out and explore their landscape, looking at the variety of shapes and colours of lichens all around, noting what they grow on, from gravestones, walls, fence posts, to in amongst the heather on the moors.

Joanne has been working with a group of local artists and crafters and with Years 5 & 6 at Reeth and Gunnerside Primary School.  She has taken them all on the same creative journey as she follows when creating new artwork. As Joanne studies lichens in her local environment, so they have been doing the same. The participants have been helped in their investigations by local lichen experts, Les and Sue Knight, who have kindly run introduction workshops with the group and at the school.

Joanne and both her groups are making garments that could be found on a peg rail, all inspired by lichens.

Serena Partridge


Serena Partridge is a visual artist, she creates small-scale accessories and garments inspired by historical costume and storytelling. Her works are presented as museum acquisitions, encased with labels that blur boundaries between fact and fiction. Find out more about her work here.

Serena has been working with young people from Reeth and the surrounding Dale. She lead some taster sessions with the local youth group and in October half term worked with a group of young carers.

Serena is taking much inspiration from the young people themselves. She is interested in people and what we leave to tell our individual story and has worked with the young people on depicting their likes and passions. She will build on this when she runs subsequent workshops in 2018 and the young people will be asked to think about their aspirations for the future. The work the young people create will be paralleled with Serena’s work based on local people from the past, thus creating a picture of the past, present and future local inhabitants and their stories.

Graham Taylor


Graham is interested in how nature reclaims a human space and will be using this as his inspiration for Fabric of Place. Graham has accompanied the local archeological group (SWAAG) on their big dig and will be running a further workshop with them in the future.

Graham Taylor is a potter and self acclaimed Experimental Archaeologist and Ancient Pottery Technology Specialist.

Graham is interested in how nature reclaims a human space and will be using this as his inspiration for Fabric of Place. Graham has accompanied the local archeological group (SWAAG) on their big dig and will be running a further workshop with them in the future.

In October 2017, during half term, Graham lead some family-friendly workshops at St. Andrew’s Church in Grinton and Reeth Memorial Hall. Participants were asked to bring something that they deemed ‘special’ and Graham helped them to make a clay pot to keep it in. Those pots are currently being fired and will be available for workshop participants to collect from The Copper Kettle in Reeth from Thursday 18th January.

Graham also took some imprints of people’s special items and these, along with inspiration taken from the workshops will help him create the final collaborative exhibition piece.

Ed Kluz


Ed is an artist, illustrator and printmaker. He grew up in Swaledale and is excited about returning to his home ground for this project. He currently has a solo exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Ed will begin his residency in January 2018. As an artist he is interested in the overlooked and almost forgotten and he brings this curiosity to Fabric of Place. Ed will be working with older people within the community and he wants to hear their stories. Not the stories that made the papers, that already have a place in history but the unrecorded stories. The passed down folk tales, ghost stories, the seemingly mundane memories that have stayed with people for decades, fables and truths and children’s tales.

We are looking for people to share their stories with Ed and would particularly like to talk to people who might find it difficult to attend mainstream workshops. Ed will attend a couple of coffee mornings at the Quaker Close sheltered accommodation but is also happy to visit people at home if this is easiest for them.

Project Review

You can read the entirety of the project review for Fabric of Place over in our Resources.

Project Blog

Artist Update from Carolyn Thompson

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Artist Update from Lynn Setterington

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Unfolding Origins at Selby Abbey

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Project Update by Emily Wilson, Project Manager

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