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Deirdre Nelson

Deirdre works in a variety of scales and explores social dimensions through textiles, with sewing and knitting retaining their hand-skilled character while being considerably more than technical processes.  All have experience in teaching and community orientated projects, some of which has been overseas.  Individual statements 


My arts practice has evolved through experimenting with materials and methods of making in which hand work and craftsmanship provide both direction and context. Hand skills are transposed though the work in a humorous commentary on social and textile history within the contemporary gallery. My textile work employs a variety of techniques and materials fusing traditional textile skills and contemporary reinterpretation through photography and digital manipulation.


Recent work involves collaboration with the animators rm* which continues to fuse traditional skills with computer manipulation. My current solo exhibition Ironers and shakers is a result of a period of time spent at London Printworks and a period of research into two local landmarks Walton lodge laundry and Brixton market . I am also currently working with gbdm design management on a commission for the new Shetland museum and archives.

Out of season puffin spotted on \Handa Island


Artist Deirdre nelson has been attempting to knit the birds of Handa!



Glasgow based artist exhibited widely in solo and group exhibitions and been involved in many community and school projects. She is interested in social history, traditional textile skills and often adds a humorous element to her work.   Deirdre Nelson has been one of three artists in residence in Mackay County through Durness Development group with her area of research being Handa Island.


She has been interested in the importance of the birds on the island in the past (as a source of food) and the present importance of Handa as a bird sanctuary bringing many visitors to the island over the summer.

Discovering that feathers from the birds were bartered for wool on the mainland Deirdre began to think of ways of incorporating this into her work. She is knitting the bird species of Handa, some of which will be knit from cheviot wool spun by a local Tarbet spinner Irene Garrioch

Deirdre has been interested in creating birds which can be a learning resource for children in the future in the area but also play a part in telling the story of Handa.

She has been interested in emigration of members of the community from Handa to Nova Scotia and Cape Breton but also in the migration of the birds to and from Handa.

With children in Scourie, Kinlochbervie and Achfarry Deirdre and the pupils are creating a community of birds. Deirdre is linking with an art teacher in Cape Breton (whose ancestors travelled on the Hector one of the first boats to travel to the area from Loch Broom.)

Imagery of each community’s birds will be exchanged making the same journey many immigrants travelled before. Over 60 young people have been involved; their work will be photographed and printed onto postcards each one being sent to Cape Breton on the same journey as immigrants in the past. Children in Cape Breton are also creating their own bird imagery and teachers are tapping into whatever resources are available linking with their local bird authority and a professor at Cape Breton University has agreed to come to their school give an introduction to the birds in Cape Breton. Deirdre is hoping that this will develop links for the future.


The results of Deirdre’s residency will take the form of an exhibition of her work, work of local children and that of children in Cape Breton later in November. The children in Cape Breton will also have an exhibition of their work and the postcards from children here.


Meanwhile Deirdre has a few more birds to knit! If there are any knitters out there interested in creating their own knitted bird to add to the community of birds Deirdre can be contacted on

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