Join Craft NI's Treasure Archive

Artist Hannah Casey needs your bric-a-brac

Hannah Casey is wearing turn-up jeans and a brightly-coloured cardigan. Not particularly dragon-like, but by the end of August she hopes to have her very own treasure trove. Casey, however, isn’t looking for gold and diamonds (send those to CultureNorthernIreland) but for sentiment.

Remember when you were a child and you had a box full of old dolls heads and stones that were pretty if you spat on them? That is what Casey means when she says ‘treasure’. Knick-knacks, gewgaws, Tchotchkes, old bits of tat or bric-a-brac.

‘I think most people have something like that they hold onto,’ Casey laughs. ‘It could be a piece of beach glass or a nicely shaped stone. Or even just a special receipt that you have kept.’

Don’t worry though, Casey doesn’t want to keep your treasure, just your image of it. Sketch it, draw it, take a photograph of it or make a sculpture out of play-doh – then send an image of the result to Casey to be added to her Treasure Archive Blog.

The aim of the project is to create an online exhibition particular to August Craft Month. To contribute people can drop into one of Casey’s two treasure-making workshops. The first is in Belfast on August 4 – part of Late Night Art – and the second is in Derry~Londonderry on August 15.

A variety of materials will be there for people to work with – from paint to embroidery thread – and they can spend as long as they want working on their image. ‘Spend all night,’ Casey says. ‘Or just take five minutes. And you can make anything you like with the materials we have. It’s very open.’

The Treasure Archive project is something Casey created for August Craft Month and Craft NI. 2011 is its inaugural year. The inspiration for the archive, however, came from a project created by an American couple Casey worked with in Iceland. (The country, not the store.)

‘There were no butterflies,’ Casey explains. ‘So they got this idea of everyone making their own imaginary butterfly and released them. Only they were released online.’ With submissions from children across the area, the project ended up with over 100 butterfly submissions. Some of them, Casey recalls, were ‘absolutely beautiful things’.

It was an idea that Casey loved, but ‘they were already doing it’. So she came up with the idea of a creating the Treasure Archive instead, hoping that just as many people will send in images. ‘You don’t have to come to the workshops,’ she says. ‘If you can’t make it to the workshop, or you are in another country, make something at home and send a photo of it to me.’

Casey would, however, like people will come to the workshops if they are able. She notes that one of her favourite parts of this sort of project is seeing people get over their apprehension about making something new. ‘People can be scared of a blank page or piece of fabric, but once they have a pen or needle and thread in their hand they just start working. Once they make their mark, they’re fine.’

At the end of August the project will close, but the exhibition will continue online. Casey says that people can still send in images if they want, but she likes the idea of it being finite: a chronological snap-shot on valued objects.

For more information about August Craft Month go to Craft NI or check out CultureNorthernIreland's What's On guide.