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Artist transforms lobster claw bands and nets into art



Carley Mullally started learning how to sew around the age of seven.

Their grandma decided to sign them up for sewing lessons with a friend.

Up until graduating from high school, Mullally took classes every Friday. They created clothing, stuffed animals, teddy bears, and many other things.

“It’s really satisfying being able to create something out of a needle and thread."

Their passion for fabric and weaving were transported into their career as a textile artist, incorporating different techniques like weaving, knitting and crocheting into their art.

Mullally uses found materials, especially fishing debris, to create their pieces. Their approach to art is consisted of looking at the materials first and then later deciding what to do with them.

“I like to draw awareness to the materials that I’m using.”

Three of Mullally’s pieces are currently being exhibited at Charlottetown’s Confederation Centre of the Arts.

They worked with family, friends and cleanup initiatives to collect lobster claw bands and nets that they later transformed into clothing-like artwork.

Mullally’s lobster theme fit perfectly into ‘the currents that carry us’ exhibition, which explores the concept of place and artists’ connection to the land of Atlantic Canada.

“I was really looking at the idea of repair, reuse and redesign. Especially during COVID, I found myself going through that whole existential crisis that a lot of artists go through like, ‘Why am I making art? We’re in the middle of a pandemic like what is the purpose?’ and I started collecting a lot of these materials during the pandemic and wanted to give them a new sense of life and a new use. And through doing that I found myself kind of repairing myself at the same time.”

Mullally wants to inspire people to recycle and reimagine materials.

“My dream would be for somebody to see the amount of material that I’m using and think of new alternatives.”

The exhibition’s curator, Roxanne Fernandes, said lobster claw bands and nets were a conscientious thing for Mullally to consider when it comes to the ecological impact of the lobster industry.

“Carley really thinks of that kind of social aspect of like ‘what does this material mean to the place it’s in now and how am I going to use it to tell the story of where it is’.”

Fernandes said Mullally and the other featured artists were the ones who inspired her to put together this show.

“It’s really them who make it what it is and who are putting so much of themselves and being so generous with sharing parts of themselves and their memories."

Fernandes hopes visitors will see and feel the connection to water that is prevalent in the Maritimes.

“I’m hoping that, in terms of reception, folks can come in and be able to have a bit of a sense of play when they’re in the space. So see these different pieces, see how they interact with one another, but also hopefully upon reading the wall text kinda see the story within each piece.”

She also hopes people will reflect on their own connection to the place they’re in and keep an eye out for the featured artists and their future work.

‘The currents that carry us’ is Fernandes’ first in-gallery credit as a curator.

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My name is Ezra (they/them) and I’m an aspiring storyteller who is half-way through a Journalism and Communications program at Holland College, P.E.I. 

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