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Welcome to Musings – The Loom Room Blog

8 December, 2015

The Power of Dreams

Filed under: Education,Life,Teaching,Travel,Weaving — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 8:25 pm

It’s amazing to think how a seemingly inconsequential choice can change the whole direction of one’s life, isn’t it?  And yet, so often that is exactly what happens.  And once that initial choice has been made, other decisions compound the effect until suddenly you find yourself looking at a whole new life.  And all it took was a birthday choice!

Nearly five years ago, my husband, Graham, turned 50.  He wanted to celebrate by going on a cookery course abroad.  Italy and France were on the shortlist, and he decided that he didn’t want to cook pasta.  That choice changed our lives!

The Gascony Cookery School is based in a small village on the edge of Tarn-et-Garonne and the Gers, down in the deep south-west of France.  It is set on a rocky outcrop in rolling hills with farmland all around it hosting kilometre on kilometre of sunflower fields in the summer.  Gramont boasts a chateau open to the public, a wonderful auberge (where cookery school students also get to work), and a honey museum.  In one of those quirks of fate, Graham, who should have been one of six students, was the only student.  (Something similar happened to me when I went to study jacquard at the Lisio Foundation in Florence – there should have been five or six of us, but there were only two!)  Over long leisurely meals with our hosts, Dave and Vikki, it transpired that they wanted to produce a honey beer, but didn’t know how.  Graham (my husband) has been brewing his own beer from the grain since I have known him (well over 30 years) and said he could help.  The more we talked, the more we realised our particular (and peculiar) mix of skills would fit in this village.  Graham with his brewing and music (he’s a good ‘cellist), and his wonderful ability to get on with everyone, and me with my weaving.  There was even an empty property for us to look round that would allow us to do all our activities.

We came home from that holiday buzzing with excitement and potentialities.  We went back to have another look in the summer.  The property was daunting – a lot of building work would be needed to make it functional but we had got the bit between our teeth and approached the sellers.

Not a lot happens speedily in the countryside of France, as many Francophiles will tell you.  That’s part of its appeal!  Because there was so much structural work to undertake before even starting work on making the property functional, we put forward a price which was not accepted.  We hoped that time would encourage the sellers to reconsider.  We went back to Gramont several times.  Then all went quiet from the sellers.

We went back this April, still set on the same property, but this time we decided to see what else was out there.  What other properties in the area would allow us to do our thing or give us a comparison to be able to negotiate a better price?  We viewed 15 properties in one week, and I have to say that the estate agents were all amazing!  Then it happened.  The very last house we looked at just took our breath away.  As we drove up the drive, I said to Graham ‘This is it!’  We felt exactly what we had felt when we first set eyes on Willowgate 23 years ago.  And as we walked round, it felt more and more like home without all the back-breaking work that would have been entailed in the property in Gramont and only 40 minutes away from Gramont.

La Tuilerie with studio

We hummed and hawed for a short while after we got home but that was just nerves.  We had really already made our decision, and in May our offer was accepted.  Just two days later, another offer was put in but the sellers of La Tuilerie honoured their word to us.  And now, finally, at the end of November 2015, we are the proud owners of a beautiful maison de maitre with attached barn for my weaving studio and teaching studio, a workshop for Graham’s micro-brewery, and a small shop to sell our wares!  We will be able to put guests up and offer the kind of immersive experience that we enjoyed at the cookery school, where I can teach weaving and intersperse it with trips to local markets, restaurants, local beauty spots and places of interest so that students and guests can enjoy the tastes and sights of Gascony.

And all because of a birthday decision!!

It will take a while to renovate the buildings to allow us to run the weaving courses and the B&B, but this is the start of a new life.  Graham is taking the plunge and leaving teaching which he has done for 30 years, to devote himself to looking after my guests and brewing his beer.  Of course it will be a challenge – not least the language side of things – and we are not taking it lightly, but there are so many people who are looking out for us and encouraging and helping us, both in the UK and in France, that with a lot of hard work and patience I think we will settle in to a new way of life and really be part of the local community in Nérac and Condom.

I do hope we will have the opportunity to host some of you, my past students, dear weaving friends and fellow explorers on life’s rich path.  I will post updates on FB and here and in my occasional newsletters, but in the meantime,

May All Your Dreams Come True!!  (Because they sometimes do!! :^))

 

9 November, 2014

What weaving means to me

I don’t know about you, but I get sent a number of requests from students asking for me to complete questionnaires for their dissertation research.  Some of them are not thought through and in that case I reply tactfully that they need to do a bit of basic research themselves before sending out questionnaires willynilly.  But this week I have had one that gave me pause for thought.

In my own masters research, I read a lot about the importance of tactility in everyday life and art, as that is something I feel passionately about – textiles are for touching for me, although I respect that many ‘art’ pieces are not designed to be handled.  My work is about erosion in all sorts of guises and about tactility and I want people to interact physically with my work.  It’s also a medium that, for the handweaver, insists on physical interaction at different times during the making process.  In every step of creating a warp, I interact with the materials physically, although the planning is all brainwork and 3-dimensional spatial planning inside my head.

The questionnaire I received this week asked me if I find weaving challenging.  This I interpreted two different ways – challenging as in ‘difficult to overcome’, and challenging as in ‘mentally and maybe practically demanding’.  The first meaning isn’t so relevant to me, but the second most definitely so.  If it is not challenging, I am not pushing myself.  Occasionally I do something that doesn’t take too much mental effort but just requires the physical input of weaving – my Xmas cards, for example – but mostly I am challenging myself to develop new ways of doing or learning.  Using the natural world as my inspiration I strive to envisage ways of using weave structures and materials to allow me to interpret geology, growth and erosion patterns from flora, fauna and minerals into textural expressions.  I use all the things I have learnt previously, and play with them, investigating how I can merge ideas or structures to create a different take on something and make something unexpected happen.  Serendipity plays a crucial role but first I have to think things through and move things in a certain direction so that serendipity can have the room to intervene.

Charlotte also asked if weaving is a stressful occupation, and whether it has helped me improve other skills such as problem solving/mathematics/social skills?  Well, yes, occasionally I do get stressed when something goes wrong, but it’s usually if I am in the wrong mind-set anyway, or I feel under pressure from outside forces.  Where I am the person totally in control of things, then I don’t usually get stressed, even when things go wrong.  It takes as long as it takes.  But I know for sure that it has certainly helped me improve problem solving – thinking laterally, seeing what is around me that I can press into service when something physically goes wrong with the loom (happily a fairly rare occurance), being spatially aware of how a flat fabric will shape up into a 3-D piece once it is removed from the loom, thinking in terms of numbers of shafts and patterns when working out what designs to create, and socially, well I get the chance to travel and meet lots of people, sharing with them my technical knowledge, love of weave and my particular way of looking at the world….  All wonderful things to be able to do and share.

I also talked about how weaving can be meditation – getting in the zone allows you to drift away from the pressures of everyday life and focus entirely on the moment, what your body and mind are doing right now, right here.  It has also helped me work out how to approach difficult situations in my emotional life, moral issues raised by a teenage son, and gives me a sense of perspective when things get overblown in my mind.

The questionnaire went on to ask about other aspects of weaving which also required further thought but I stopped for a while to think about just how important these particular questions are to what we do.  We are engaged with our hands, minds, emotions and body, using sight, touch, smell and spatial awareness in the physicality and preparation of weaving.  Yet the act of physically throwing a shuttle allows us to engage analytic thought (if we wish!), but also to focus on the moment, awareness of our bodies, throwing the shuttle and moving the shafts, and also, at the same time, the mental distance from everyday things to allow our subconscious minds to sort out knotty and complex emotional and mental issues whilst we are physically engaged in a rhythmic exercise.

No wonder weave is all-engrossing, and that it continues to be a craft form that gains adherents, devotees, and fanatics (I count myself in the latter group!! ), even more as our daily lives are more and more engaged with digital technology.  The fact that it is found world-wide, and is such an old craft form, is testament to its endurance as an essential craft for our physical but also our mental well-being.

Thank you, Charlotte, for reminding me what weave means to me.

Happy weaving!

1 October, 2014

Technology v Longhand – Either/Or or Both? Reading, writing and weaving

Filed under: Art,Education,Life,Philosophy,Teaching,Travel,Weaving — admin @ 11:15 am

Today I chanced across a post on my Facebook feed.  I don’t usually spend much time on Facebook, but this one article caught my eye and I read further….  http://mic.com/articles/99408/science-has-great-news-for-people-who-read-actual-books

I have always had a reluctance to use e-readers, although I have one.  Wherever possible, I much prefer to pick up a physical book.  I could never put my finger on it, but especially when doing research reading for my masters, I found myself unable to concentrate if reading text on an e-reader.  At the end of the piece, I wouldn’t have understood it and would have to read it again and again.  It frustrated me that I couldn’t turn page corners down to emphasize where I had found an interesting point, although I could highlight text, but finding the text again wasn’t so easy, especially if I was carrying several trains of thought in my head at the same time.

Then, once I had ‘liked’ that article, several others popped up underneath the original one.  This time there were three other links to articles that drew me in. The first one was about writing  ….  http://mic.com/articles/98348/science-shows-writers-have-a-serious-advantage-over-the-rest-of-us

I am a diary girl.  It helps me to keep track of ideas, emotions, events in my currently rollercoaster life, and it also helps me to gain a sense of perspective on my own and others’ actions.  It started a few years ago, proved its value during my masters journey, helped me to keep a memory of places visited on my trips, and now is a way to help me keep track of what I’ve done, upcoming deadlines, and a memory jogger as my own memory is having serious issues!  I know memory is highly subjective anyway, and we only keep a memory of how we view something, and that that memory is subject to change, but I am very aware that my imagination interferes with my memory and I cannot always rely on remembering something accurately.  This is incredibly frustrating and I hate not being able to trust my memory.  So the journal is a vital tool in holding on to my emotions and reflections of events, places and people at the time.  Of course, journals can be manipulated as we write them and most people writing a journal on a computer undo sentences and rewrite.  It is easy to do, and can allow streams of consciousness writing which are then re-written.  In a physical journal, if you don’t want to end up with phrases crossed out, you are required to construct the sentence and therefore the slant in your head prior to committing it to the paper.  I know that my own emotional issues have been helped by writing them out both on paper and in an e-diary.  Curiously, I findthat I tend to get more emotionally involved in my writing if I am writing in a physical diary, and to stay with the emotions longer – not always a good thing.  Writing emotionally on the keyboard is not so immersive and reading back my writing on the laptop has a distancing effect, as if I am reading someone else’s writing.  This can have value, especially if the emotions you are expressing are not positive ones.

The next article seemed to bear out my own thinking  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/  and led on to another article that seemed to encapsulate my own experience when note-taking in tutorials/lectures at university during my masters….. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-learning-secret-don-t-take-notes-with-a-laptop/

I had done both methods and totally related to mindless typing of verbatim discussions, missing the wood for the trees in a discussion and wondering what had just happened when the session was finished.  After a few ‘typed’ sessions, I reverted to hand-written notes and understood far more from patchier notes.  It also struck me that court recorders might have to disengage with the content of what they are recording in order to distance the mind to focus on the taking down of accurate records.  Theirs has to be verbatim notes but if they actually thought about the content, would their emotions have an impact on their efficiency of record taking?  I’d love to hear from a court recorder about how they work.

This got me thinking about how we learn in weaving.  I am currently studying Marian Stubenitsky’s book ‘Echo & Iris’.  I struggle with learning something new.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it usually takes me about 3 weeks to process a visiting tutor’s weaving workshop.  I just have to stay with the discomfort of not knowing what people are talking about or understanding the fundamentals of a new technique and suddenly it will ‘click’.  When working through a book, I read the information, weave the samples, and then analyse the physical weaving.  When teaching drafting, I do not allow my students to start off with the computer.  Even if they have the weaving software, I encourage them to do the drawdown with pencil and squared paper.  Why?  Because in the slow process of physically drafting by hand, their brains can assimilate the visual knowledge and turn it into comprehension of the relationship of warp and weft.

I’ve just been weaving 8S versions of some of Marian’s samples.  It took me a while to realize that I work better with Bonnie Inouye’s method of tie-up and to change Marian’s tie-ups into a Bonnie-method.  Then suddenly I could see what the two sides were supposed to be doing.  I could then work out how I wanted to adapt the liftplans to give me the results I was looking for.  During the writing of this blog, I have had a sudden ‘click’ moment about how to get the effects I am wanting to achieve but I am going to go back to the software to check if my thinking will actually work before I weave it.  I am able to do that because I know what I am looking for, but if I didn’t, I would go back to drafting longhand to understand the principles before going to the software to develop designs quickly (relatively speaking!).

What am I trying to say here, in my long-winded way?  I think that technology in reading, writing and weaving is very useful, can be time-saving, can also allow for weaving experimentation in a way that old-fashioned drafting precludes by its very ease of use, but that comprehension is required before that experimentation can occur and for me, longhand drafting can aid in that comprehension in a way that technology cannot provide.  It’s very interesting to read (electronically) the four articles looking at how digital reading and writing can impact on our memory and comprehension and to note that it would have been very probable that someone like me would not have had access to this kind of material prior to digital technology.  The dissemination of information is so wide-spread thanks to technology.

For me, digital technology is wonderful, but not the be-all-and-end-all.  It has its downsides, things I don’t like about it.  I am aware that I stare at the screen whereas I don’t force my eyes when reading a book.  I change my posture lots when reading a physical book, but find myself hunched in one position not having moved for ages when looking at the computer screen.  I now ensure that I switch the computer off for large chunks of my day, and I limit myself to a certain length of time on the computer at a sitting.  Writing this blog and reading the 4 articles have taken up the best part of a morning.  A useful exercise for me, and therefore not time wasted, but I could have been weaving……

Ultimately, the proof of the pudding is in the weaving, and nothing is more effective than sampling to check that not only the weave structure but also the yarns behave in the way that you intend.  Although I am using a table loom for this warp, the work I will develop from it will be woven on a computer-assisted floor loom – a perfect marriage of technology and hand!

Happy Weaving!

10 August, 2014

Weaving as Meditation

It’s been a while since I last sat down at my AVL to weave serious amounts.  In fact, I warped 12 metres on back in February, and threaded up for the Complex Weavers study group samples for Collapse, Pleat & Bump.  Those samples were finally woven in May after my return from New Zealand, and then the warp was left ready for another Growth Form on my return from Washington.

With one thing and another, it has taken me until this week actually to sit at the loom to start weaving.  Having created a new liftplan and decided to change the amount of plain weave in my overshot tie-up, I started work.

Everything started badly.  The paper weft had been left on the bobbin, wound since May.  It doesn’t like to do that!  The yarn had set itself into its tightly wound spirals and did not want to behave.  Rather belatedly, I remembered that I should always wind it off the bobbin once I have finished my weaving if it is to sit more than a night or so before being used again.

Shafts began to play up and not lift when they were supposed to – rather a problem when they cross layers and you are attempting to weave a tube!  I was getting quite frustrated.

Then I realised…..I was trying to weave too fast.

My thinking was all skewed.  I needed to allow myself to slow down, breathe deeply and focus just on the moment, not on how much I had to do and how little time I had to do it.  Get back to basics.  I had to do what I advise my beginning students to do – enjoy the moment and be aware of everything that is happening.  I started to pay attention to the shafts and not expecting the loom to do it correctly every time.  I allowed myself to smile when one of the shafts misbehaved, and to congratulate myself for having noticed the miscreant!  I decided I would weave a certain amount of picks, and not to worry if it took a long time.

Three hours flew by and 1008 picks (the pattern repeat) looked good.

The next day, I set myself the same 1008 pattern picks to weave.  This time, I thought I was already mentally in the right place, but I wasn’t.  My mind was zooming all over the place and I found myself having conversations aloud with myself!  Two hours dragged, and I wasn’t getting anywhere very fast.  So I stopped for a little while and thought about why this was happening.  OK, so we have a lot going on in our lives at the moment….  Who doesn’t??!  So what could I do to quieten my thoughts and focus on the moment?

Weave 12 picks at a time!  One short burst of concentration.  Followed by another.  And another.  Before I knew where I was, I had woven my complete 1008 picks in a fraction of the time it had taken to weave the first 400 or so!

I now have two intense weeks of teaching ahead of me, and when I tell my students to slow down and savour the moment, I shall smile to myself and remind myself that I still need to learn that lesson myself!

Make haste slowly!

Happy Weaving.

Stacey

20 July, 2014

Ruminations

I must admit to being a little shell-shocked with the past 7 months’ activities.  It has been a total whirlwind of travelling, teaching, experiencing new places and people and now I have landed back on planet reality!

But time to reflect before plunging into the next phase.

January – completing my masters degree and finding out I had been awarded a distinction!  What can I say? Three years of focused learning/investigations into weaving, art history, philosophy, materials, writing essays and fine-tuning things, but most of all, learning about how I think, how others think things through, what art can mean, abstracting ideas and honing in on specifics and details in order to create something that means many different things to different people.  I knew when I began the MA that I would learn so much and develop as a person and an artist, but I have truly discovered so much more through this process than I could possibly have imagined.  I would encourage you, if it is something you have considered doing, take the plunge.

February – immersed in finalising details for workshops in New Zealand, February swooshed by.  Packing my exhibition and teaching materials into two suitcases, as well as a few clothes for a two month visit, took a fair bit of trial and error, and eventual sitting on the suitcases to squeeze out enough air to close the zips!

March – arriving in New Zealand and hitting the ground running.  Agnes didn’t give me time to breathe, which was probably a good thing!  Straight into the Professional Weavers Network Conference at Coopers Beach, North Island.  Stunning area of natural beauty.  The first leg of our joint exhibition Nature in the Making at the Earth House, Peria. A huge thank you to Dhaj Sumner, amazing lady and so warm-hearted, who created the Earth House in the first place, and gave us such a welcome!  Great reception of our work – it looks like it was made to live here!  Continuing preparations for the start of the teaching tour, although a little time to visit a couple of places for geology and relaxation.  Then on tour.  A series of workshops travelling from North to South, from Oruru, through Whangerei, Auckland, Hamilton,  Wellington, meeting lots of new people, lovely weavers, stunning scenery and warm welcomes from generous hosts. including an unexpected holiday in Wellington thanks to Robyn and Dave Parker.

April – over the straits to South Island.  Workshops in Blenheim, Canterbury, Timaru and Dunedin meeting felters as well as weavers and making new friends all the way.  A short break and chill time in Nelson, thanks to Sue and Tom Broad.  Setting up for the second of our exhibitions in New Zealand at Arts in Oxford, near to Christchurch.  Delighted with the gallery – lovely space and warm people.  Special thanks to Rachel McRobb, the gallery manager, and the volunteers, especially Celia for her generosity in sharing her love of local pigments! The work looks amazing in this fine-art gallery space! And thanks to our hosts here, Wilson and George! And in Timaru, lovely Mary and Gary Anderson. Then after the Creative Fibres Forum Festival at Dunedin, a holiday incorporating lots of geology and the west coast.  Amazing!  Firsts include seeing albatross, Hector’s Dolphins and 3 Keas.

May – home again and trying hard to absorb all the sights and sounds of New Zealand whilst preparing for the Complex Weavers Seminars in Tacoma.  Learning how to cut and twist paper for weaving, and busily weaving some more samples to enhance my presentation on textural techniques for 4 – 8 shafts, the month zoomed by.

June – completing preparations for Tacoma, and wondering how I managed to fit all my samples and my exhibition into my suitcases as the samples now seem to be taking up most of my luggage allowance!  Then off to the Pacific NorthWest to hang our exhibition in B2 Fine Art Gallery, visit Seattle to see the Chihuly Museum, and travel some of the west coast of Washington State and pop down to Oregon before the whirlwind that is Complex Weavers Seminars.  A huge thank you to Gary and Deborah Boone, owners of B2 Fine Art Gallery, and wonderful people, for their support and generosity!  Not only did we have an opening ‘do’, but also an artists’ reception and then a very special ‘Nightcap’ dessert reception during Complex Weavers Seminars when the gallery opened especially for the weavers to visit!  Then Complex Weavers Seminars!  Exhausting, exhilarating, and exuberant!  With minds fully overloaded from inspiring teaching seminars, and friendships renewed, new ones made, and amazing sunsets appreciated, it was time to depart.

July – an awe-inspiring trip to Mt Rainier started an incredible two weeks of travelling in Washington and Oregon, visiting geological highlights of Oregon’s coast, mountains, high prairies and river gorges, with huge thanks to Barb and Steve Walker for their hospitality!  Big thanks, too, to Suzie Liles, as our exhibition will travel from Tacoma to Eugene Textile Centre for its next showing from 1st August to 11th October!

So now…..  getting my head around these amazing 7 months; writing up my notes from the US trip and writing down all those weaving ideas that the inspiring countryside and geology have given rise to, then prioritizing those ideas into things I can instigate immediately, and those that will have to wait a while; preparing for an intensive month of teaching; and also researching possible venues for our exhibition here in the UK.  On that last note, if anyone has any suggestions for galleries or museums that might be interested in our work in any country, please don’t hesitate to email me:  stacey@theloomroom.co.uk  and I will follow up!

Who knows – I might even start blogging regularly again!! :^))  Thanks for bearing with me over the last 3 years!

And Happy Weaving!!

 

 

6 April, 2014

All Aboard for the South Island

Well, ‘Windy Wellington’ did not live up to its name!  We had glorious weather for our sightseeing!  Whereas most people whizz round places and see lots in a short space of time, Agnes and I prefer to take our time, enjoy the vibe, have a coffee/tea, take lots of photos, look around some more….. you get the picture!  So on our first visit to Wellington we managed to take the cable car, visit the Carter Observatory and mooch through the Botanical Gardens, and the second day we slowly strolled along the Waterfront and visited Te Papa, the national museum and art gallery.

Here are a few photos from that day….  a lovely statue to Katherine Mansfield (author),    a token tree from the Botanic Gardens – a hugely tall eucalyptus – and water, water, water from the waterfront.

             We were photographing some water shots at the end of our day when Agnes and I independently got approached by passers-by asking us what we were photographing.  When Agnes explained, the lady looked again and started seeing the patterns, but unfortunately, I don’t think the man who asked me could see what I was seeing – to him it was ‘just water’.  Just as well we all think and see differently!!

  The clouds weren’t bad either!!

The next day we had a quick stroll around a reserve at Whitby before heading off to catch the ferry.            Farewell to the North Island… and hello to the South Island    with a little bit of water in between (just for a change :^))    

Two Texture Days followed with weavers and felters from the lovely Marlborough textile group    before moving on to Nelson across the vinyards of Marlborough, a beautiful river crossing,  and the winding mountain pass, into a glorious evening overlooking Boulder Bar and Nelson…      One amazing view after another!  That’s my experience of New Zealand!!

Hope you are enjoying the trip along with me!

Happy Weaving!

31 March, 2014

Mud pools and silica terraces

Carrying on with the journey south through North Island, New Zealand, a lovely teaching weekend in Hamilton    was followed by a two day trip to Rotarua.  We had two days in the Rotarua area where thermal activity and volcanic valleys abound!  But first, a little flora outside the Thermal baths at Rotarua…      The first trip was to Waimunga Volcanic Valley…..     and the second to Wai-o-Tapu                 Then we visited Haku Falls, a really fast and furious flowing waterfall….     before heading off to Lake Taupo for the night.

The next day was the drive down to Wellington going over the Desert Road, where the rock erosion was fabulous but where we could not often stop…..          Another fun workshop   then a day on the beach at Waikanae…                  And now we are off to Wellington city for a bit of culture…!!

Enjoy the photos and Happy Weaving!

 

Adventures in New Zealand

I can’t believe how quickly time is passing here in New Zealand!  I’ve been here a month now, and we are just about to leave the North Island for the South Island, and I realised I haven’t blogged about the amazing time I am having here!  I landed at running speed and it just hasn’t stopped !!  :^)) No time for jet lag – it was straight into the Professional Weavers Network Conference at Coopers Beach on Doubtless Bay in the north.  Stunning scenery…  

Then the exhibition was underway in the Earth House, Peria and received some lovely comments.  Agnes and I were both really pleased and happy at how well the work fitted into this individual house…

          

Then teaching courses with PWN delegates – a lovely bunch of ladies both in Oruru and in Auckland…  

I did get a day off to explore the Tauranga Bay and Whangaroa Harbour        and had a swim in amazingly beautiful waters before my next workshop.  

I also had time for a trip to the very tip of the North Island, Cape Reinga….      where the Tasmin Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and you can see the two water masses meet and mingle.

Next it was the trip to Auckland and an hour or so watching a moody sky from Mount Eden…      

Tomorrow, I’ll post pictures from the active thermal and volcanic areas near Rotarua, the Desert Road and the south of the North Island…..

Enjoy!  And Happy Weaving!

2 March, 2014

Travelling half a world away…..

Well, D-day has finally arrived.  Everything is packed – I hope – and it’s double-checking time.  Passport?  E-ticket?  Double-check the weight of the bags?  Money?  Everything electronic charged?  Charging cables etc packed?  Camera?  Oh yes…. and mustn’t forget the artwork!!

Now – how to get the zip done up!!

There are so many people involved in preparing for a trip of this kind….  Agnes got the ball rolling in the first place with an invitation to give the keynote speech at the Professional Weavers’ Network annual gathering.  Although she is well versed in organising things, I don’t think even she quite expected the myriad details this trip has entailed!!  Then Sue who so kindly volunteered to do the printing probably didn’t realise quite what a deluge of handouts, drafts and booklets she’d be inundated with!  She has also done a lot of organising of the different workshops and lectures I’ll be giving on my round NZ tour, finding host organisations who wanted workshops, arranging for accommodation etc.  Then the trip will finish up at the Creative Fibre Festival in Dunedin in April, and Sarah has organised that aspect of things!

Then there is the exhibition!  Agnes has really worked her magic here!  Late nights (sometimes no-sleep nights!!), organising 2 different venues – the Earth House in Peria, and the Arts in Oxford gallery, getting together the different hanging systems and methods of hanging from grid walls to monofilament or fishing line, ordering the catalogues and postcards, getting the PWN conference fine-tuned, organising the funds, the logistics, and all the time interleaving (pun intended!) her own professional weaving work and teaching, and getting the house and garden ready to receive visitors and a workshop!  No one would believe that just a few short months ago, Agnes was airlifted to hospital and not at all well!!  Her stamina is amazing!

This is all set to be an amazing two months.  I am so looking forward to meeting old friends and making very many new ones, spending time with weavers and other fibrey, textiley people, seeing amazing natural history and geology and generally having the trip of a lifetime!  Without a number of people, some of whom I have not yet met, none of this would be possible.  So thank you to everyone who has worked so hard and tirelessly, despite all the difficult stuff that arises in our lives, to pull this together for a person they don’t yet know!  I’ll do my best to make it everything you want it to be!

See you on the other side (of the world!!)

12 February, 2014

nature in the making

There are just two weeks to go before an amazing trip of a lifetime – two months touring, teaching and exhibiting around the wonderful place that is New Zealand!

I thought I would post a few images of the frenzy (organised, of course!) of packing, last minute weaving, revisions of lectures and workshops, and collating of stuff.  So much stuff!!  Samples of seersucker, overshot, shibori, stitched double cloth, honeycomb, and large pieces – my growth forms in different sizes and structures from 4 feet right through to 12 feet tall!  Complete with dreadlocks!               

I love the jellyfish version!  In fact, I was wondering a while ago how best to weave jellyfish after a passing comment from a marine biologist student who saw jellyfish in one of the growth forms I had hung up to photograph!  That got me thinking and about a week or two later I had worked out how I could actually weave a jellyfish.  So, imagine my surprise when one popped up when I thought I was packing a case!!

The third image is actually of three panels of a Strata wall I’ve just taken off the loom prior to going to the Launderette for wet-finishing.  It’s one of those ‘gulp’ moments.  I have no idea how the stresses and frictions of the full wash process is going to impact on the 180″ panels, and then I put them in the commercial tumble-dryers to give them another going over!

This trip is doubly exciting because it is the first major exhibition I’ve ever done.  Agnes Hauptli, friend, fellow weaver, roadtrip companion, and general all-around good egg, is showing with me.  Agnes is a fabulous colourist and I’m really looking forward to seeing her stunning multi-panel jacquard hangings of the Antelope Canyon (Arizona)and the interior of the Luray Caverns (Virginia).  She has also woven some gorgeous silk shawls picking up on the contouring of the interior of the Antelope Canyon in the amazing colours that are there in the petrified sand dunes.  She has also contributed some stalactites to the growth form installation.  So far, I have 14 different forms to hang, and hope to have a couple more (time permitting).

The exhibition, entitled ‘nature in the making’, is going to be shown at the Earth House in Peria, and then at the Arts In Oxford Gallery.  Here’s the flyer for the show:      After it has visited its two venues in New Zealand, it is going across to the US Northwest Pacific Coast, to Tacoma and the B2 Fine Art Gallery where it will be up from 19th June to 25th July.  We’re very excited about this as the Complex Weavers Seminars are being held in Tacoma this summer, and it coincides with the exhibition.

The idea for the exhibition developed during one of our biennial roadtrips around certain areas of the US.  Agnes and I both attend Complex Weavers Seminars every two years and, as Agnes is from New Zealand, and I am from the UK, we plan a roadtrip around the same time so that we can catch up, and also indulge in our love of geology and natural history.  And let’s face it – there’s plenty to see in the US!!  So in 2010, we travelled to Arizona and Utah to visit the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Bryce Canyon as well as seeing the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest and Monument Valley.  Sounds like a wonderful child’s book, doesn’t it??  

Two years later, we ended up under the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Mountain Ranges in the wonderful limestone caves of Virginia.  As we sat pondering what we had seen over a meal or two, lots of ideas for how to begin to capture some of the essence of what we had experienced came bubbling up, and then we thought it would be a good idea to put on a joint exhibition.  After all, that way things might actually be woven, mightn’t they?!  Well, the idea bore fruit, and we started working on a few ideas.  Agnes invited me to be the keynote speaker to the Professional Weavers Network conference in New Zealand, and suggested I might like to do a few workshops and lectures to make it a worthwhile trip, and suddenly we had a tour on our hands!!  

A few years before hand, I had been challenged, by weavers Richard and Christine Jeryan, to put on an exhibit of my work in the US within 7 years.  I had accepted, not really expecting that the opportunity would arise.  But then, things started to fall into place.  2014 would be the seventh year, so why not give it a go with this exhibition?  Thanks to Mimi Anderson, the convener of the 2014 Complex Weavers Seminars, contacts were made and conversations were had.  Before we knew where we were, it was a goer!!

So – an amazing opportunity to travel, spend time with other weavers, see the geology of New Zealand and the US, and have a ball!!

I’ll post images and update my blog, and my facebook pages during the trip.  But in the meantime, a lot of the backstory in photos and comments are to be found on our dedicated facebook page for the exhibition, www.facebook.com/natureinthemaking  So if you are a facebook user, then please pop in and like the page and follow the story.  If not, I promise not to leave you out in the cold!!  :^))  In the meantime, we’d like to take the work to other venues, so if you have any ideas, or would like to have our exhibit at your gallery/museum, do please get in touch….  We’re hoping to take it to many different sorts of venue – geological, natural history, sealife, arboretums (?) – over a period of a few years, so we look forward to hearing from you with your suggestions.

Till next time, Happy Weaving!

 

 

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