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It’s time to wax lyrical about flax!

August 18th, 2023 11:45 AM

By Eimear O'Dwyer

It’s time to wax lyrical about flax! Image

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ECO-artist Kathy Kirwan is calling on the people of West Cork to share their stories with her about the flax and linen trade. 

On September 10th, Kathy will be hosting a discussion at Kilcoe Studios in Ballydehob as part of a series of talks, workshops and exhibitions about contemporary Irish textiles. 

Kilcoe Studios manager Sonia Caldwell said the series of events, The Fibre of Our Being, aims to create awareness and ‘stimulate discussion in a fun way’ about contemporary and sustainable textiles. 

Kathy has been growing flax at Cecas in Myross Wood for the past year, and has taken a keen interest in the phenomenal history of the crop. 

During World War II, West Cork was one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of flax and linen, she said, and local farms, mills and linen halls employed a lot of people as a result.

Kathy hopes to spread awareness about the historic flax industry in West Cork and she appeals to anyone with stories or artefacts to email her at [email protected] or phone her on 0862255067. 

Kathy will demonstrate some flax processing and lead a discussion about the potential renewal of flax – as part of the sustainable textile industry in Ireland. 

‘Research shows that linen is one of the most sustainable types of fabric,’ she said. ‘It lasts a long time, it’s good to wear in winter and summer, and it can be dyed with natural dye.’ 

As a sustainability educator, Kathy encourages people to embrace natural resources around them. Kathy creates her works using natural materials, and natural resources. 

‘It’s very much about using locally-available resources,’ she said, and this helps to develop ‘an intimacy with their locality and with their community.’  The series started at Kilcoe Studios on July 15th and will continue throughout August, finishing on September 10th with Kathy’s talk.


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