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Icelandic Textile Center Newsletter - Autumn 2023

Wool Worlds in Purple Blue
There are so many exciting things happening at the Textile Center that we struggle to find the time to write about it! Since our last newsletter in the spring we've started working on "Tracks4Crafts" (more info below), travelled to Copenhagen and Geneva for the final CENTRINNO consortium meetings, held the seventh Iceland Knit Fest, wrapped up the NORA collaboration "Wool in the North" (see videos here) and taught "fibre-focused" crafts in Norway. We welcomed school classes and student groups, hosted open houses and workshops (bacteria dye!) and acquired new equipment (tufting guns! carding machine!) for the TextileLab. In collaboration with BioPol and Ístex, we started Fjólublár ("Purple Blue"), an ongoing research project on creating a sustainable dyeing process for Icelandic wool with purple dye produced by the bacteria Janthinobacterium lividum. Together with Federica Valli, the manager of the Lottozero TextileLab in Prato, Italy, we hosted the presentation and exhibition Ullarheimar ("Wool Worlds") in Blönduós, featuring products developed by makers in our TextileLab. We welcomed artists from 19 different countries at the Ós Residency, participated in the Res Artis conference in London and supervised a few dozen university exams in Kvennaskólinn. We know, it's a lot. So, without any further ado, here comes our newsletter, autumn edition 2023! 

How much hand needs to be in handcrafts? Is there a difference between artisans and craftspeople? What are current perceptions of designing and making and where are the gaps in crafts education? These are some of the questions we are exploring within the framework of the Horizon 2022 funded European collaboration Tracks4Crafts. Following the kick-off meeting in Antwerp in March, the consortium (including pilot teams like ourselves as well as representatives from the University of Antwerp, University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, the Association of European Open Air Museums and World Crafts Council Europe) just met for a second time in Florence, Italy, November 14-16 to discuss the next steps.
There are many opportunities for the Textile Center in regards to building, transmitting and supporting crafts knowledge. We want to identify needs in the handcraft community and education landscape; develop workshops, outreach events and discuss topics such as ownership, design vs. crafts, hybrid teaching models and art residencies as alternative pathways for education. Tracks4Crafts is an ongoing project until 2027, so stay tuned for further updates.

What a journey it’s been! When we first signed up for CENTRINNO in 2020, we did not know what to expect. But we were very excited about participating in a big European project looking at how underutilised historic spaces can become creative production and manufacturing hubs. And we knew what we wanted to achieve: further developing the Textile Center as a lively makerspace in line with the principles of a circular economy and facilitating research on the current situation and historical heritage of domestic crafts and textile work in Iceland. Also, we wanted to raise awareness of the opportunities that lie within textile innovation, education and local production.
Three years later, this is where we are: The Textile Center now runs a TextileLab; we hosted idea marathons, workshops from e-textiles to soft robotics and welcomed a growing number of student groups, policy makers, educators, artists and craftspeople. Working with the local community and makers from all over Iceland, developing the bacteria dye project Fjólublár with local partners and presenting the exhibition New Directions at Reykjavík Design March were some of our pilot highlights. It has been the greatest reward to see the TextileLab brimming with activity and makers coming to our town to learn about traditional handcrafts and experiment with new equipment, materials and ideas.
CENTRINNO will come to an end in February 2024. We just finished the third and final sprint and met with our colleagues at the final Consortium Meeting in Geneva, where we visited former industrial sites and makerspaces including MACO, Forum Grosselin in Carouge, the FabLab On L'Fait and innovators in sustainability like Les Deux Rivières. We'll miss these get-togethers with the pilot teams and work package leaders, who have become friends and collaborators. But now we have a strong foundation and relationships we can build on!
Find more info on CENTRINNO and the Blönduós pilot on Youtube (CENTRINNO EU) and the project website: centrinno.eu (#H2020 #centrinnoeu) and follow us on Facebook and Instagram: @textilmidstod / Facebook: Icelandic Textile Center)
The final Consortium Meeting was held in Geneva, Switzerland September 25-28.

Ós Residency News
From September 6 to 9, we were in London for the first in-person Res Artis conference since the pandemic. "Mind the Gap: Designing Residencies for everyone" was hosted by Acme in partnership with University College London. Over 200 artists, arts residency providers and cultural mobility experts from around the world came together to learn about residency opportunities and discuss topics such as power and access, diversity, artist voices and partnership working. One particularly interesting event was the panel discussion and presentation "Residencies, higher education and alternative pathways" facilitated by Dr. Tarek E. Virani, Associate Professor of Creative Industries at UWE Bristol, and Haidy Geismar, Director of the School for the Creative and Cultural Industries, UCL. They highlighted the fact that residencies can be places of problem solving, vocational training and knowledge sharing; spaces for creative learning, where sustainability is applied in practice. We have already started working along those lines at Ós Residency. Given that artists in residence all have access to a communal kitchen, share work space and host exhibitions together during their stay, there tends to be much (voluntary) skill and knowledge sharing happening at Ós Residency. It's always great to see people with different backgrounds and levels of expertise in textiles connect! Next June we will be hosting the Concordia University Field School, a mixed-level, transdisciplinary university credit course conceived and designed by Dr. Kathleen Vaughan, for a third time. On our website, there is an overview of all the artists who have stayed with us since 2013. Sometimes we do takeovers on Instagram: At the moment, you can have a look at November artists in residence Mari Norddahl, My Dammand and Maryliies Teinfeldt-Grins' work!
Artists also have access to the equipment in the TextileLab (booking on site). We just acquired a new carding machine! Residency exhibitions are held at the end of each month.

Coming Up!
Ós Residency will be closed in December, to give us some much-needed time for inventory management and other projects, such as grant writing and supervising the upcoming winter exams.
The Textile Center is part of the Knowledge Center ("Þekkingarsetur") network in Iceland and collaborates with the Adult Education Center Farskólinn in Sauðárkrokur. Students who live in our region but are enrolled in distance programs at the University of Iceland, the University in Akureyri or other universities in Iceland can choose to take their exams at the Textile Center in Kvennaskólinn. Fall/winter exams usually take place from the end of November until mid December.
And then we get to look forward to the holidays! In the new year, developing workshops for Tracks4Crafts, working on establishing a Textile Cluster in Iceland and preparing classes for Knit Fest in collaboration with Húnabyggð municipality are on the agenda. We'll stay busy. Promise.