Although extremely small, the Warp & Weft exhibition at Craft in the Bay, Cardiff is incredible. I left feeling so inspired and enthused about specializing in weave. It totally dispelled all preconceptions that weave is the art of ‘making scarves’ only. Warp & Weft is a traveling exhibition from Oriel Myrddin, a gallery appropriately located in the heart of the Welsh weave and wool country. It is interesting to note that nationally there has been a dearth of specialist contemporary woven textiles exhibitions in recent years and as I was explaining to my friends who I had dragged along, Knitting has definitely become a ‘in’ thing to do, whilst weave is still waiting for its moment to shine! The exhibition celebrates contemporary practice and innovative new work and is sure to inspire and surprise- the seemingly restrictive process of weaving is opened to infinite possibilities in the hands of this extraordinary selection of accomplished weave specialists.
The work displayed can be categorized into 2 approaches-
The first group can be defined as being experiments with the very structure of weaving, e.g. Ann Sutton, Lucy Mc Mullen and Peter Collingwood.
The second approach questions what the woven structure might hold, e.g. Ainsley Hillard’s graphic printed figures, Ptolemy Mann’s colour studies, Priti Veja’s woven structures containing fibre-optic yarn and NUNO’s Feather Flurries (which require that the loom is stopped and feathers inserted by hand into double weave pockets). I found this approach particularly interesting in that it explores what the woven structure and contain or record. This linked me into my current uni work, recording my ‘journey’ in the transition town of Brixton. I am keen to explore how many ways a weave can document a process, a task, a memory.
Although as I mentioned before, the exhibition was positively tiny, it was of such interest and relevance to me, I could literally talk about it for hours! Instead I will just give a summary of each artist’s work as this will enable me to refer back to their work at a future date. Despite all beholding a unique and individual approach the work of all 13 artists hold a reverence for tradition deftly interwoven with an enthusiasm for new technology. It was really nice taking my non-textiley friends to the exhibition as I think they were quite surprised having conjured up the thought that a weave exhibition would be full of crafty looking 2-D scarves and wall-hangings.
Lambswool, mohair and cotton.
This is possibly one of the most simple approaches as the artist is particularly interested in the behaviour of fabric as a result of careful selection of yarns and structures. Her weaves are therefore careful and highly skilled documentation of her considered investigation. Probably one of the least technology influenced work, the simple approach of the artist epitomizes the Japanese spirit. I like the pod-like structures which appear to be matted natural fibres- lambswool, mohair and cotton they remind me of seeds or natural cocoons and my planting work at the Brockwell Community gardens for my current Transition project.
Extended Cube, 1968
Informed by mathematical systems, specifically geometry and numerical formulae and an obsession with the fundamental ‘square’ in both its two-dimensional and three-dimensional state. I particularly like the nylon monofilament 3-D structures void of colour. Being able to manipulate flat cloth simply by the yarns fascinates me.
X Ray Dress 1, 2004
A photographic Jaquard woven panel exploring the concepts of home, family and memory. I am really keen on drawing and am pleased that the Jaquard allows for this to be translated into weave. This extends the possibilities presented by this craft.
Pop Out, test sample 2010
Nylon monofilament and cotton.
Shetland wool and wire.
Formation of origami like structures, which are of particular interest to me since visiting Japan. Her approach opens up exciting architectural and engineering applications.
REIKO SUDO – NUNO CORPORATION
Feather Flurries, 1994
Silk and feathers.
NUNO is one of the world’s leading companies creating innovative, cutting-edge fabrics borne out of a respectful reverence for Japanese artisan heritage- “We weave new ideas”. Sudo has an intellectual curiosity and an unparalleled passion for experimenting with new yarns, inventive manufacturing technologies and unexpected finishing processes in tandem with questioning what new twist on tradition can be explored.
A scientific approach in creating woven, 3-D adornments for the body inspired by the natural world and the tactile experience of cloth. These also reminded me of origami in their constructed forms.
to and fro, 2010
Viscose weft, monofilament warp and acrylic.
Unique way of incorporating image onto cloth combining fields of print and weave which is certainly something I would be eager to explore in my future work. The delicate, fragile quality of the technique succeeds in creating ghoustly imagery.
Cotton, linen and nylon monofilament cast in acrylic.
Hand manipulated leno weave which presents many thought-provoking juxtapostions- hard vs soft, permanence vs impermanence and questions the viewer as to what weave can be. She says “To weave is to explore control and unpredictability, alchemy and transformation, narrative and myth, maths and emotion, cause and effect. The possibilities are endless…” I find it rather difficult to engage with these works as they are so cold and harsh to the touch unlike the fluid, tactile nature of woven cloth.
Nine-carat gold, copper and silk.
Tactile neckpieces using crushed gold, silver or copper yarns juxtaposed with lustrous silk. Inspiration derived from the tale of 'Rumpelstiltskin' spinning straw into gold.
Macrogauze 3DZ, 1980
Linen and steel rods.
An engineering aptitude made him renowned for adapting his loom to create seemingly impossible structures where warp threads traverse the width of the cloth.
SUE HILEY HARRIS
Eighteen Faces, Three Spaces, 2010
Paper yarn, indigo dyed.
Woven pleated and cocoon sculptural forms encompassing the study of fine art, a fascination with geometry, an abiding interest in science, a deep understanding of yarn and the practice of weaving. Once again I am reminded of origami!
Monolith 1&3, 2009
I have already seen her work (and that of Laura Thomas) at Ruthin Craft Centre. A passionate and innate sensitivity for colour that is absolutely absorbing. Using Ikat dying.
White Sac, 2006
Cellophane, polyester, wire, reflective yarn and polyurethane coated cotton.
Work from her Royal College graduate collection. Preoccupied with the principle of transformation through movement, light and mechanisation, Electroluminescent lighting technology and shape-malleable yarns are used to hypnotic effect.
Light Flow, 2006
Cellophane, phosphorescent lurex, polyester and electroluminescent light cable with power supply.
ISIMINI SAMANIDOU in collaboration with Gary Allson
Typically her work is characterised by complex Jaquard weave structures using multiple wefts to create captivating surfaces reminiscent of decaying walls, peeling paint or natural forms (useful for Transition project?). This work however, reveals an interest in creating a dialogue between weaving and other disciplines. CNC-milled wood surfaces have been created from magnified weave structures. Likewise digital 'drawings' and hand woven fabrics of extraordinary delicacy present a conversation between different making methodologies- all inspired by a handmade 'fan reed' Samanidou made on a recent British Council residency in Bangladesh. I really like the morse code intrigue of the work.