See traditional craft items at group’s birthday exhibition

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Mat-making techniques that have been passed on over generations will be on display in Morpeth from next week.

Members of the public can see the works of Woodhorn Matters at its 21st birthday exhibition in The Chantry. Some of the items were made recently and others were put together years ago.

Some of the members of Woodhorn Matters group preparing for an exhibition of their work to celebrate their 21st anniversary at The Chantry. GM041118

Some of the members of Woodhorn Matters group preparing for an exhibition of their work to celebrate their 21st anniversary at The Chantry. GM041118

The traditional proggy (or clippy) and hooky rugs made by the group, which meets on Wednesdays and Sundays, are done from scratch to members’ own patterns.

In addition to mat-making, they use the same techniques to produce wall hangings, cushions, seat covers, bags and decorations. Most of the items are made individually and some of them have contemporary designs as different styles and materials are used.

The skills go back at least 150 years in the region. They developed out of need, as mine workers and farm workers lived in homes where the floors were beaten earth or flagstones.

When Ali Rhind was commissioned to produce some wall hangings for the newly-built Wansbeck Hospital in the early 1990s, Northumberland residents were invited to help make them and the people who met at the Woodhorn Museum enjoyed the activity so much that they decided to form the group.

When Woodhorn was closed for refurbishment in 2004, Woodhorn Matters moved to alternative premises and then settled in 2007 at Morpeth Methodist Church, which provides a central location for members.

One of the special items at the exhibition is a wall hanging that members were asked to make in the 90s when Woodhorn had the Lindisfarne Gospels. The item depicts Lindisfarne Priory and also includes a Celtic cross.

Founder member Doreen Blezard said: “Also on display will be the 20 rugs for our Millennium project which covered all the 50-year periods between 1000 and 2000 and the wall hanging in tribute to William Turner that is usually in the Town Hall.

“We have 21 members at the moment and we all think it’s vital to keep the craft alive because it’s an important part of Northumberland’s social history. We also enjoy the social aspect of being part of a group.

“It will be nice to speak to visitors about the craft and our works. We do run workshops on occasions and new members are welcome, so those interested in trying out these techniques can have a chat with us to find out more.”

The exhibition will run from Thursday, June 12, to Saturday, June 14, and then Monday, June 16, to Saturday, June 21, in the Bagpipe Museum between 10am and 4pm. Entry is free.