Russian artist Sergey Busedsky of Sharmank working on his Hattersley loom sculpture
The magic of Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre and the story of Harris Tweed come to the small screen in new BBC ALBA Trusadh documentary Beairteas na Beairt / Riches of the Loom.
The hour-long programme, which airs on BBC ALBA on Monday, February 20th at 9pm, combines a fascinating glimpse into the history of Harris Tweed, with an insight into the unique imagination of Sharmanka, the Russian art group, as they create a new artwork using a loom from Harris.
Creating art installations comprised of moving sculptures, accompanied by sound, music and light, Sharmanka – Russian artists Tatyana Jakorskaya, Eduard Bursedsky and their son Sergey – were commissioned by An Lanntair art gallery to make one of their famous kinetic theatre pieces using a disused Hattersley loom; and by so give their unique artistic take on the story of Harris Tweed.
Head of Visual Arts and Literature at An Lanntair, Roddy Murray, said: “Harris Tweed has been the most significant industry in the islands apart from fishing.
“The Hattersley loom was synonymous with Harris Tweed from the 1920's onwards. I remember hearing the clicks of the Hattersley looms in so many houses on my way home from school.
“This was a tradition on the islands, but it was also an important source of jobs.”
Once booming, by the 1980's the Harris Tweed industry was in sharp decline, until a turnaround began in 2007.
The Harris Tweed industry has seen a resurgence of interest over the past decade
Seven years on and today Harris Tweed is exported to 50 countries, with the fabric in great demand for exclusive products, from shoes and handbags to sofas, art works, phone covers and high fashion clothing, with designers Vivienne Westwood and Sandra Murray fans of using Harris Tweed in their creations.
As the Trusadh documentary 'Riches of the Loom' presents, the resurgence of Harris Tweed coincides with a renewed interest in and appreciation of craftsmanship in the UK, and internationally, particularly in Japan and the US.
Stornoway based Rosie Wiscombe is one of many crafts people who has set up her own business, using the fabric in designs for a younger generation of consumers, including her range of Harris Tweed hoodies.
And Alison MacLeod, from Ness, also runs her own business selling designs made from Harris Tweed; and is delighted that children today are taught about the industry at school, and that the fabric is much more celebrated now than when she was growing up in Lewis.
Artist Alison MacLeod, of Buth Lisa in Ness, is one of the new generation of craftspeople using Harris Tweed today