This past weekend, I have been in deepest Camarthenshire at the National Wool Museum with around 45 other weavers and curators. Laura Thomas organised a symposium specifically on weave – a rarity in the UK – and surrounded it with exhibitions, two specifically of weave. I hope to cover those in future posts, permission permitting, but for today, I’d like to share with you the meat of the symposium.
Hosted by Dr Jessica Hemmings who is well known to many through her contributions to Selvedge, FiberArts and other publications, the day featured different aspects of weave, exploring how woven structure informs far more than the textiles that surround us. including Prof Lesley Millar with her wide experience of curating weave and contact with Japanese sensibility, architect Wayne Foster, who works with Laura, Andy Ross from the Ann Sutton Foundation, Shetland, with his unusual take of weaving and music, and Ruth Greany, a weaver who is now a textile trend researcher with WGSN, a trend forecasting company.
Prof Lesley Millar talked about constructed narratives and narrative constructs (the weaver’s tale). Prof Millar is a curator and educator and at times her talk lost me a little. She read direct from her paper, so her presentation was a little stilted and not nearly as relaxed and informal as Dr Hemming’s introductory presentation. However, as ever from Prof Millar, it was interesting. One of the points she made was about time being an important element which is woven invisibly but indelibly in the cloth. Jessica Hemmings picked up that the time something takes to make is actually important in the making of the fabric, and shouldn’t be verboten to be talked about. I’ve found that most people’s first question is “how long did it take you to make …..?”
Wayne Foster gave a talk about the links between architecture and textiles as explored by him and Laura. He sees distinct overlaps between architecture and textiles both in discipline and concepts and showed us many different projects that his practice have worked on which relate directly and indirectly to textiles, through patchwork quilts, double cloth, block weaves (think Bauhaus), designs that relate to the lay out of buildings, to the management of spaces. He also illustrated these points with other architects’ work.