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Bluecoat Display Centre is currently hosting a small exhibition of artwork based on sculptural textiles and textile-inspired ceramics.  Also incorporated are a couple of jewellers inspired by sculptural qualities of textiles.  Obviously, being a texture-driven weaver, this was a must-see for me.

Curated by Gina Grassi, this small but intriguing exhibition brought together glass and crochet (Catherine Carr), ceramics and knitting (Annette Bugansky), ceramics and stitch (Fenella Elms), ceramics and interwoven forms derived from natural inspiration (Nuala O’Donovan), jewellery and textiles (Nora Fok), sculptural shibori textiles (Nawal Gebreel) and a couple of jewellers.

I found myself drawn to the ceramics work, succumbing to purchasing a couple of Annette’s pieces, and drooling over Nuala and Fenella’s work.

Nuala O'Donovan                           Nawal Gebreel                         Annette Bugansky


Nuala O’Donovan                                                                Nawal Gebreel                                                                  Annette Bugansky

What I love about this exhibition is the juxtaposition of the hard and the soft – the inspiration, and practice, of textile crafts which are then combined with the plastic ‘hard’ crafts of ceramic and glass.  It may be just that I am a texture-driven weaver, (along the lines of the ‘new car’ owner who sees ‘their’ car everywhere they look) but it seems to me that there is a lot more focus on textural work, whether in finishes, or in the underlying forms, and I, for one, love it!  Everywhere I go, I am seeing work imbued with textural qualities that just begs to be touched, encouraging a more ‘hands-on’ approach to life.

Finding myself with an hour to spare before my return train, and trying to resist the wonderful array of shops in Liverpool (I am a country / small town girl, after all!), I walked up the hill to the Metropolitan Cathedral.  It’s a long time since I last visited Liverpool and one of my abiding memories was the interior of this church.  I wanted to find out if my memory had enlarged the experience in my mind.

If anything, my memory had played down the incredible feelings that this building evokes.  From the outside, it feels almost brutish in its heavy concrete geometries.  The eye is drawn upwards to the ‘crown’ which was trying to reach up to pierce the clouds.  Reflections in a nearby building with opaque and reflective glass arose weaving inspiration in me after weeks of calm, but I wasn’t able to photograph it sufficiently to show the drama of the actual appearance.  There are two metalwork panels, also in brutish mode, either side of the main entrance, and some of the texture is just gorgeous.  I have included one for your delectation!  And the third image is of a detail of the stonework above the main entrance.  Yin and yang.  Carved into the facade of the building are two sets of geometric pyramidal and triangular formations, one being carved out, and the other carved in in opposite modes.  They protrude beyond the facia of the concrete and create all sorts of shadows, even on a fairly overcast day.

FB Liverpool #2                                                                     FB Liverpool #1                                                                              IMG_3682

Then, as you walk into the interior, into the very heart of this concrete cave, your heart, soul, spirit, is calmed, lifted, transported beyond the everyday by a wonderful profusion of colour – daylight transformed through the medium of coloured glass.  Abstract forms free the mind from translating and transcribing and sudden shards of contrasting scarlet in a predominantly blue/blue-green awaken you to things happening. The central dome pulls your focus upwards with its morphing of colour round the tubular space.

What is it about stained glass in churches that is so uplifting?  Light takes on such deep forms when transformed in this way.  It seems to cut through the clutter of everyday noise and busy-ness, bringing time to breathe deeply, to stand and stare, to switch off the endlessly chattering brain and just be there in the moment, looking at the light transformed by glass, and glass transformed through light, turning round in circles on the spot to absorb the next combination of colour.

FB Liverpool #3  My photo doesn’t do justice to the colour inside that building.  A hand-held camera in a low-lit environment with no flash enabled does not lead to the clearest and truest picture in the world, but if it even just hints at the potential of the cathedral to impact on an individual, then that is all I can hope.

It did make me smile to note, on my way back down the hill to the seething of humanity that is a railway station, that right next door to the cathedral is another place dedicated to ethereal pursuits – the Astrophysics department of the university!!  I did wonder what the creationists would make of that!!

Till next time, Happy Weaving!