Where The Light Gets In is pleased to present Yan Tan Tethera, a solo exhibition with works by Kat Wood. The exhibition’s title Yan Tan Tethera comes from a sheep-counting system, traditionally used by shepherds in Northern England. The words are numbers taken from Brythonic Celtic languages, which had died out in most of Northern England by the sixth century, but they were commonly used for sheep counting and counting stitches in knitting until the Industrial Revolution.

Yan Tan Tethera marks the finale of Where The Light Gets In’s The Responsive Resource Series: Wool, which states: “The conversations that exist around resources in our immediate network are daily attempts at addressing our inputs and outputs. We are only a restaurant, a bakery and a garden so we wanted to turn these discussions to the outside world and construct a wider network of consideration with the opportunity to exchange knowledge about the natural world around us. Through a twelve-month programme called the Responsive Resource Series, we will explore the way that we as a society interact with natural resources. We will do this through a series of workshops, panel discussions, screenings, dinners, exhibitions, community art programmes and celebrations. Many of these events will be free to attend and aim to create a curiosity around alternative consumerist lifestyles.”

The exhibition will feature a selection of archival pieces and newly commissioned work, including a large sculpture centrepiece, bearing the title of the exhibition, suspended from the ceiling of Where The Light Gets In and which further lowers the ceiling of the gallery. 

This work is borne of an inquiry into the interdependency between what we refer to as “the rural” and “the urban”. It addresses the architecture and history of the gallery space it hangs in while operating as a metaphor for throw away culture and conversely, societal expectations and need of natural produce. Wood’s exhibition is grounded in her experiences of growing up in a Northern farming community, and the harsh realities of farming in the current political climate. The exhibition explores the broken British farming system, with an ever-ageing workforce and farming becoming increasingly financially difficult. The price of food is low and the cost of land is high. The prospect of a new generation working 24/7 to produce for a truculent public and an underpaying supermarket chain no longer seems all that alluring.

The materials in the sculpture include a polypropylene bag, ropes, native wood, livestock markers and sheep's wool. The wool is waste wool collected from various farms across the North West of England, to prevent it from being burnt. In 2020 Shepherds across the country flocked to the fields and in protest of a harmfully low price for their wool set by the wool board set fire to fleeces. The result of smouldering skies cast a violent image in response to the decline of an industry that is historically seen as the backbone of this nation's wealth. As a matter of course the speaker of the House of Lords still sits upon a sack of wool. The bright coloured marks show different farmers’ ownership of the livestock. Its weight is held by baling twine ropes, suggesting temporary stability while making the moment of its slippage or even complete collapse imaginable.

It is unarguable that as a natural resource wool is extremely versatile and with the right skill and technology could be honed as a valuable material across several industries. From construction, fashion and horticulture it has been proved that wool is always the most ecologically efficient material in a range of solutions. Why is it not utilised to its full potential? Is there a way in which this underutilised natural resource can be used to bolster not only our nation's economy but both local and agricultural economies too? Can wool be used to add value to our workforce through applied skills and technology? Is a future of utilising wool a future that aims closer to ecologically minded industrial practice bringing us closer to our net zero carbon goals?

Alongside the sculptural elements, framed prints from photographs the artist took during The Shepherd’s Residency will be exhibited. The Shepherd's Residency lasted from June to October 2021, it was implemented as part of the ongoing Neringa Forest Architecture (NFA) programme, developed within the framework of NERINGA - Lithuanian Capital of Culture 2021.

In cooperation with the Curonian Spit National Park and Verpėjos, the artist-run residency and project space in the Dzūkija, NAC brought a flock of 30 Skudde sheep from Dzūkija to Nida.

Neringa Forest Architecture follows the material cycle of the Curonian Spit forests and analyses this cultural landscape as a case study in the context of Baltic and Scandinavian forests: as a space where ecological, recreational, representational, and industrial narratives intertwine.

Through Neringa Forest Architecture, Nida Art Colony aims to develop tools and initiate processes to explore and give insight into society's relationship and cooperation with this unique landscape that has been shaped by human activity over the past 200 years. Following the current regulations of upkeeping a diversity of natural habitats in the Curonian Spit National Park, the meadows of Tylos Valley and Grobštas Nature Reserve in Nida are to be protected from overgrowth and are a particularly valuable habitat for meadow plants. The flock of Skudde breed sheep that grazed there is particularly suitable for landscape-shaping.

This collaborative project combines the objectives of several different institutions. Developed by using the sheep for the Curonian Spit National Park for nature conservation purposes, the shepherds’ residency is based on exploring the concept of artists working in the forest with sheep as a form of coexistence. Working with sheep in this landscape allowed the artist to delve deeper into reflecting on the ongoing processes of how landscape, space, and nature are shaped and designed. The sheep graze in the meadows that will not be reforested, thus inhabiting the landscape, grazing, and becoming new co-inhabitants in this protected structure of recreation, forestry, and cultural practices.

Displayed are a series of photographs from the project 'Skudde', the flock of sheep crossing the Russian border, a brutal dog attack and friendships made. The images are displayed in custom-made frames, using Robina and Pinewood from Grobštas Nature Reserve. 

Lastly, a communal fabric piece will be exhibited in the space. Throughout the The Responsive Resource Series: Wool, various free community workshops took place, Joanne and Kat Wood taught the ancient art of wet felting, Katrina and Nadine Wilde who taught how to naturally dye and weave wool. Followed by knitting with Eve Taylor of Sandwith Studios, and local Cooperative Stitched Up who brought together the work from these workshops to create the final piece. 

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