I’m a person who likes beginnings; the beginning of spring, the beginnings of a book, the beginnings of a new project. It’s because of the promise of something extraordinary hidden under the layers of a beginning. A new challenge has unlimited possibilities. A new project has unlimited ways of developing and morphing into something else. The beginnings of a book could go anywhere – except of course that the author has made their selections and the journey evolves as they direct.
I’m also a believer in taking paths that don’t always appear to be the most favourable. I like a certain amount of danger, a frisson of fear but that isn’t gut-churning. I like the unknown because of the possibilities and un-imagined directions that could unfurl.
Does this mean that I am a person who never finishes things? Actually, no. Because behind my love of beginnings, I also have a need to complete one thing before moving on to the next. Quite often, things evolve from one thing to the next and the transition is seamless. And I can always go back and revisit something, bringing something new from a more recent project into a previous project. So in that way, I do a lot of time-travelling, bringing elements from future work back into past work.
Weaving is like that. You learn a set of techniques as you develop as a weaver, and then your own personal interest starts to take over and you find yourself being drawn to a certain technique, or a particular range of threads, or a specific loom, and your path changes. Along that learning path, you adopt tools and techniques that feed back into what you knew before and can change how you feel about previous work or development. It’s this constant refinement, re-definition and further refinement that I find really exciting. That’s where I see each person’s voice coming through their work.
I used to feel an irrational jealousy when I met other weavers who were following their weaving path with the same kind of passion that I have for mine. That was a strange emotion for me because I’m not a jealous person and never have been. I was very protective over my experience and almost couldn’t believe that other people felt about weaving like I did. It was almost a ‘hands off’ kind of protectionism – something I have never had experience of in any other form of my life.
Now I know that it was because I was not confident in my own voice. I knew I have a talent for weaving, but I didn’t have the unique ‘sound’ that identified me to myself. In a way I can relate that to my early days as an oboe player – I’m talking mid-teens here – when I used to crave the solos and almost resent those much better and more experienced players who were playing the solos. I had to serve my apprenticeship and learn how to phrase and play with soul before I could really own those solos. It’s the same with the weaving. I am still serving my apprenticeship, learning from some exceptional teachers, but now I have my own weaving vocabulary and my voice is my own, and I can appreciate other weavers’ individual voices and know that we are not a threat to each other, but all parts of the same wonderful craft. Where we overlap is a cause of celebration, not conflict, and where we differ we can appreciate and applaud those differences.
You never know, quite often seeing someone else’s work and appreciating the skills and learning behind it suddenly leads to another beginning, and here we are full circle! Like life…