Project Baa Baa celebrates contribution of sheep to our lives

Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture is hosting ‘Project Baa Baa’, a unique online programme celebrating the cultural, economic and environmental contribution of sheep to our lives.

The European Congress of Sheep Farming and Associated Traditions events explore the traditions in sheep farming for meat, milk and wool and the many uses of wool in production.

Sheep farmers; researchers and innovators; artists and designers; and craft and food producers from across this country, Europe and worldwide will present these traditions through a programme of online events and exhibitions launching at the end of this month.

A key event is the Europe-wide online conference featuring international speakers from sheep farming and associated agencies, research, design and eco innovation which will include the International Wool Textile Organisation; EuroSheep; Slow Food International Scotland; Teagasc; Bord Bia; and the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA).

Future opportunities

Hosted by Damien O’Reilly, presenter of RTÉ’s Countrywide, the conference will lead discussions with farmers, industry experts and producers to present and discuss the state of play and the future opportunities in farming, food and wool production, agri-tourism and innovation.

Other events include an international contemporary tapestry online symposium featuring world masters from this country as well as Australia; Denmark; Canada; Poland; Japan; France; England; and Scotland.

There will be 38 works on show in the international contemporary tapestry exhibition online; a wool showcase event celebrating Irish designers and makers and their use of wool; exhibitions in historic textiles and innovative fashion; sheep breed portraits in wool; education projects; and a film series.

Acutely aware of the public health guidelines, and the Level 5 restrictions for the coming weeks until December 1, the organisers are carefully presenting events within the guidelines, with the programme available to experience online.

The online European Congress conference which will take place on October 30 and the online tapestry symposium on October 31, are both ticketed. Both events will run from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Tickets are available from the Project Baa Baa website. All exhibitions will be online from October 31.

As well as the online exhibitions for international contemporary tapestry and the wool showcase by Irish designers and makers, there will be sheep breed wool portraits by Kathy Ross.

‘Recrafting Ireland’ is a representation of work from the arts and crafts movement in this country during the Celtic revival of the 19th century, with full-size images of the Dun Emer Banners, the finest embroidery work produced by the Dun Emer Guild for Loughrea Castle in 1904.

Project Baa Baa also has a third level project: ‘Aran, artefact, culture and land textiles’ by textile students from the centre for creative arts and media, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Galway, and a primary schools sheep project from Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

The launch event, comprising the wool showcase, tapestry, sheep portraits, meet the makers’ virtual opening and screening of the fashion film FI by photographer and film maker Perry Ogden and other makers’ films, will take place on October 30 at at 6:00pm.

Home and abroad

Deborah Evers of Project Baa Baa said that the packed programme had caught the imagination of people at home and abroad.

The contribution of sheep to our lives is enormous, in maintaining our pasture land and farming to produce meat, cheese and yogurt and the many uses for wool.

“Sheep contribute wool to farmers and buyers on an annual basis, a sustainable, healthy and environmentally sound product.

“We have presented these themes through online events and exhibitions on Project Baa Baa to show the different breeds and the many people whose livelihoods are connected to farming and wool,” Deborah said.