The Selkie
The Selkie


Size: 265w x 240h largest dimensions
Materials: tie-dyed wool warp (central panel), linen warp (side panels), wool, linen, foil thread.
Date: 2017/18

Selkie stories exist all across the inhabited lands of the North Atlantic, also in the folk tales of the peoples of the Pacific North West. A Selkie, the Norn word for a seal, can be male or female and is a magic creature, a seal that can become human by shedding its sealskin.

This tapestry was originally intended as a single tall thin piece, perhaps to be one of a group of figurative tapestries. When I started it I had no fixed design, only the thought that I wanted to revisit and expand the ideas I had explored in Strandsong. I made and dyed a wool warp in the colours of the seashore and started to weave, leaving plenty of exposed warps. As I wove, I came to the idea of weaving a Selkie woman at the moment when she realises that someone has stolen her skin so she cannot return to sea with her kin, but is doomed to remain on the land.

What I actually wove was something much more complex and more contemporary. I found her direct gaze challenging and unnerving and I couldn’t quite work out what she was trying to say to me. The tapestry was somehow incomplete so I decided to expand the piece into a triptych, to give her a context. I think now that what she and I are both saying is take care of the sea or we will all be exposed and homeless.

The Selkie 2