From 26 April to 3 May I was lucky enough to participate in an Erasmus training placement in the beautiful mountain village of Pano Lefkara in Cyprus. Along with 7 fellow artists (all professional members of Applied Arts Scotland), I undertook a week of working with traditional materials and learning traditional techniques. The trip was organised by Grampus Heritage & Training Ltd, which is a non-profit making organisation based in the North-West of England. Since 1997 they have been involved in the management and promotion of European projects concerned with culture, heritage, archaeology and the environment. The whole focus was about sustainability and how that can be applied to our practice.
Read a blog post by participating artist Lar McGregor
It was a glorious week and I learnt so many skills including sourcing greenwood olive withies, weaving withies into a hurdle, macrame, peg looming, crochet, cordage from natural vegetable fibres and plait weaving.
Weaving leaves in a hirdle, Image by Hannah Ayre
We were also taken on many amazing trips including visiting the ancient ruins of Kourion, Nicosia and a trip to North Cyprus. Plus a farm which uses ancient methods to shepherd sheep (there is no need for a sheepdog because they all love the farmer and follow him around!). This farm produces some of the best Halloumi cheese on the island. One of my favourite trips was to an ancient olive grove to visit one thousand year old olive trees which are carefully maintained using traditional methods.
We put our new-learned skills to use, collaboratively creating a children’s reading room from found objects and locally-sourced materials, using only traditional craft methods. Working and learning with my fellow makers was just fantastic and was a very special part of a week packed with creativity, great conversations and a lot of laughter.