‘Weave’ symposium review: Stacey Harvey – Brown

Eleanor Pritchard‘Weave’ symposium Sat 11th May 2013
Stroud International Textile Festival

A weave symposium now seems to be an annual event at Select 2013 in Stroud, Glos and enthusiasm for it has not dipped if attendance was any judge. In fact, the event could have sold twice as many tickets if space had allowed, which is heartening for all connected with weave.

This year’s event was chaired by Philippa Brock, with speakers grouped in twos; Laura Thomas paired with Deidre Wood, Eleanor Pritchard with Tim Parry Williams, and Nadia-Ann Ricketts alongside Helga Matos with a final presentation from Philippa. Q&A sessions followed each pairing with a final session of questions to the entire speaker panel.

Laura Thomas, in common with the other speakers, is a portfolio weaver, mixing commission and personal work with industrial collaborations. A regular at the Select 2013 she talked about developments of her Loose Thread acrylic pieces from the original concept of capturing the beauty of unwoven warp effects in resin blocks to now including unwoven weave techniques, such as threads creating colour-and-weave effects, and clasped weft tapestry techniques turned 90o to create unwoven clasped warp ikat effects.

Laura has developed the work further to incorporate wall pieces mounted on barrel fixings to allow for the play of shadows on the wall behind her pieces. Through her public art commissions, the ideas behind the resin pieces have grown both larger and more complex, with both threads and fabric sandwiched between panes of glass, starting with a Museumaker project at The Beaney in Canterbury where Laura had a series of 3 internal windows to address which joined the old museum at The Beaney with its new development. This was the first time Laura had used glass for her work and has led to further collaborations with the glass company. Another public art commission was for the Cynon Valley Hospital where she created 9 panels of loose threads picking up the colours from the hospital’s way-finding scheme. A recent commission from Llanelli is for a glass canopy for the town centre, in which she has incorporated industrial fibres such as carbon thread, folded steel mesh, folded copper mesh (which give moiré effects) and light-reflective yarns. An older commission, to create a presentation gift for the Australian Cricket Board, incorporated narrow bands of double-sided fabric which were twisted within a curved resin shape informed by the spin of a cricket ball. This linked neatly with the following speaker, who also features narrow bands in her work. www.laurathomas.co.uk/

Deidre Wood, recently returned from Lodz, Poland where her work is currently installed in the Tapestry Biennial, brought with her some strip cloth from Mali where she has visited to find out about the indigo strip cloth from the Dogon tribe, and mud cloth from the Bambara tribe. Her special interest lies in strip cloth and her work capitalises on the inherent nature of the work, with twists in her strips to create dimensional and shadow interest. She is particularly interested in form, colour, surface and scale and uses silk and cotton, silk and worsted-spun merino wool, edges of silver, and linen and silk, incorporating strips of different sizes, and also dip-dyeing ikat. Deidre’s work firstly utilised cut strips, but then she developed methods of using uncut strips creating dimensional effects as corners were turned, allowing the opposite side of the fabric to feature. In around 2005, Deidre found that different yarn properties allowed for different shrinkage and she exploited this to create curves in the weaving as linen gradually gave way to silk over the width of the weaving. Funding from the Theo Moorman Trust helped her to undertake further research and develop a mathematical formula in order to be able to nest rings together. Currently her work is focused on the working of circles in different combinations, nested and conjoined in different ways.
Deidre Woods

The next pairing were Eleanor Pritchard and Tim Parry-Williams. Both do industrial collaborations and both look to traditional weaving histories, Eleanor’s mainly from the UK, and Tim’s mainly from Japan. Eleanor works on commercial production of blankets with a Welsh mill but also does commission ecclesiastical work with worsted wool and rayon. In 2004/5, she undertook a National Trust commission for multi-purpose banners which were both decorative and practical. The banners, hung perpendicular to the wall in the traditional banner way, could be lowered to act as room dividers for meetings as well as hung as decoration, as they had acoustic panels in between the two surfaces of each banner, one side being hand-woven, the other a commercial fabric. Eleanor is very interested in traditional British techniques, and showed us some work developed from working with samples at the V&A. In 2010, she won a commission for the Museumaker project with Orleans House in London for a temporary work which was a 24-place setting dining table made of archive boxes, cross-stitched in a damask pattern. The place settings were created as plate ‘wells’ set into the boxes with patterns created in quilling to capture the essence of the ornate plasterwork on the ceiling of the room. One of Eleanor’s enjoyments of weaving is working within constraints, and for her commercial work she has to work to 16shafts, 4-colour wefts and 180 thread repeat for a reversible double cloth. From her blankets she is now working with upholstery weavers Bute in Scotland. www.eleanorpritchard.com/

Tim Parry Williams is known for his restrained, subdued elegant fabrics and he showed the development of his work, and how various strands from different times work their way into certain projects at certain times. His holistic approach began in Japan in Okinawa where he learnt about the processes from fibre to fabric with banana fibre. He uses primarily silk, linen and paper and works semi-industrially although he is also developing art pieces, but an integral part of his practice is sustained research projects which have led to participation with an industry partner in Japan. One of his interests is how changes arise when work is taken from handwoven to machine-woven. Tim has always been interested in stripes, checks and dots and has done some research at the National Wool Museum in Wales as well as in Japan and is exploring how graphic lines in the woven cloth are distorted through finishing treatments. https://twitter.com/timtheweaver
Tim Parry_ Williams

After lunch, two newer weavers introduced their approaches to weave, both of which were experimental and inspiring. Nadia-Anne Ricketts has been heavily influenced by dance and music in her life, beginning as a dancer, and later moving into weave. She has developed Beatwoven® – “the fabric of sound”. Developed from the visual imagery of digitised music, mostly house music, the spectrograms are translated through software Nadia has developed into jacquard weaves. These fabrics can be used in different ways from fashion to interiors, depending on the yarns used. Nadia selects her yarns depending on the musical styles she is digitising and incorporates vibrant colours. The resulting fabrics can also be used as wall pieces. Images can be seen at www.nadia-anne.com/gallery/

Helga Matos is a collector of stuff such as inner tubes of bicycles, Videotapes, audiotapes, floppy discs, anything that can be incorporated into weaves. She showed some of her pieces from copper, pvc tubing, nylon filament, fiberglass yarns and the piping for upholstery. Even when not near a loom, she creates artwork from found and collected items with an eye for aesthetics and form. With a great sense of fun, she imparts humour and energy to her work and creates interesting cloth. www.helgamatos.blogspot.co.uk/

To round the day off, Philippa Brock, a researcher in the Textile Futures Research Centre gave a presentation about the research she has recently been involved in on Long Life Denim concepts developed for the VF Corporation, Sustainable Global Summit in the US, as well as bringing along some of her Self Fold and X-Form fabrics. Her ‘X-Form’ series were developed for her solo show at the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles and group exhibition Digital Jacquard: Mythologies in Hong Kong/China and explored yarns that were inherently smart without the use of batteries and wires. These included fluorescent , phosphorescent and UV solar rective combined with her signature 3D ‘on loom finishing effects’ where the fabrics self form as they come off the loom.  Details and images of these fabrics can be found on this site at www.theweaveshed.org/447/philippa-brock-2d-3d-jacquard-woven-textiles-exhibition-montreal/

One of the great opportunities of these events is the chance to look, and sometimes touch, fabrics that the speakers have created. With a mix of traditional, techno and unusual yarns, the tactile appeal of many of the fabrics is an important facet of weave and the delegates thanks go to the speakers for their generosity in allowing questing fingertips the satisfaction of touching wonderful cloth.

The event was put on with the collaboration of Stroud College and organized by Lizzi Walton at Select 2013. Thanks to both for a stimulating day. www.sitselect.org/sitsymposium.html
The Weave Shed would like to thank Stacey Harvey- Brown for writing this piece. www.theloomroom.co.uk/

Nadia_Anne Ricketts

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