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24 June, 2012

Reiko Sudo and Japanese Style: Sustaining Design

This week I squeezed in a visit to Ruthin, North Wales, to see the Reiko Sudo and Japanese Style: Sustaining Design exhibition before it comes down this weekend.  As with all Reiko Sudo’s work, the style is clean, interestingly hung, and descriptive.

The sight, as you walked into the gallery (which is a lovely open space with light from large windows and gallery lighting) was an abundance of elegant forms suspended from the ceiling.  The lengths of fabric had been draped over hangers in a way remeniscent of kimono draped around the neck, and fastened together at the front by a simple fabric-covered clip which allowed the fullness of the cloth to move gently in the air flow of passing people.  You were able to wander around the pieces at will, choosing your own path, to explore the work as took your fancy.

Each piece was documented with a handling piece overhanging a description of its conception or broad technical information as to method, and enlarging on this were presentations of different yarns, fibres, and concepts simply pinned directly to the gallery wall and covered in front with a sheet of perspex.  The shadows cast by the swirling yarns and fibres gave extra depth and quality to the presentation.  Simple numbers stuck to the floor under each of the fabric forms related to the technical information and handling pieces which were gathered into related groups around the walls.  Simple, clean, effective, and totally entrancing.

I went with a fellow student on my MA course who is a mixed-media sculptor, and she was as clearly engaged as I.  The larger-than-life size of the exhibit induced a feeling of openness to contemplation, an unhurried absorption of the tactility of the fabrics, the unity of the concept behind the exhibit, the attention to detail.

Alongside the textile exhibition was also an exhibition of Japanese style incorporating ceramics, Kagure, Urban Research, and architecture exploring sustainable design.  There was also a fascinating video of papermaking which I would have loved to have been able to buy as a DVD.  The ceramics featured the Hale Collection of Tohoku Ceramics, traditional ceramics from the Tohoku region collected by David and Anne Hale. They were exquisite and exuded that quintessential essence of simplicity, elegance, fitness for purpose and sheer beauty in simplicity that is what I associate with the best of Japanese design.

There were also modern-day Japanese potters showing here – Takahiro Kondo, and Shinsuke Iwami – and their work was available for sale.  Kagure, Urban Research is a Japanese ethical design initiative that specialises in working with crafts people whose practice has a strong commitment to sustainable development, and whose work reflects the traditions of the medium in which they work.  Items on display included textiles, ceramics, iron and wood, bamboo and baskets by members of the group.  Their philosophy is ‘to lead a local, sustainable life style, and a connection with the earth, even in the city’. (Taken from the exhibition programme).

In several studios within the Ruthin Craft Centre were examples of Japanese architecture from Kazuya Morita, Tono Mirai, and Studio Archi Farm.  These were very interesting and thoughtful displays of models, video and images and gave me food for thought.

My only regret is that I didn’t go earlier and participate in some of the wonderful workshops that had been held – in papermaking (Gill Wilson), shibori (Michelle Griffiths), sashiko (Michele Walker), 3D Construction and Print (Mai Thomas), and a dance performance (Sioned Huws and Reina Kimura).

However, for those of you unable to attend, at least you can buy the exhibition catalogue – ZokuZoku – to add to the growing collection of inspirational fabrics that Reiko Sudo and Nuno Fabrics have created and illustrated in their books.

17 June, 2012

The New TC2

I’ve had the most wonderful time this week in Norway with Vibeke Vestby trialling the new TC2 and looking at the looms which are going to be heading out to Convergence.  I wish I was going with them!!  These new looms are so much more elegant in appearance than the TC1 and work really well!

I was there to try some of my more loom-taxing dimension-creating weave structures on the looms to see how they would cope with non-traditional methods.  There were occasional heddles that stayed either up or down, but so few and I learnt a really cool way to allow for those.  The engineers at Tronrud Engineering are really helpful and listen to thoughts and suggestions, coming up with elegant solutions in a very short time.  I am really impressed with the set up and the willingness of the staff to improve, trial and adopt new ideas or suggestions.  It is so lovely to feel that the weaver’s experience of weaving on the loom is really valued and the user definitely comes first!

One of the issues I originally had with the TC1 was the slowness of the shed change.  The TC2 is a much faster loom and even with a single shuttle, although not up to the speeds I can achieve on my dobby loom, the weaving rhythm was smooth and swift enough for my impatience!!  When you have two or more shuttles to juggle, that speed is certainly not an issue.

I tested two looms whilst I was there – one with a mercerized cotton warp 20/2 sett at 60 epi with 2640 warp ends over a weaving width of 48″ (I think), 3 modules in the width, and 4 modules deep; and a 90 epi, 1320 hook loom (again mercerized cotton 20/2) with a weaving width of about 14″(?) approx, with 2 modules in the width, and 6 deep.  The loom action was smooth and responsive on both.

I also helped a little with the threading of a 12 module deep narrow warp sett at 180 epi.  It’s fun to watch weavers work out tips and tricks to get around a new experience, and the lateral thinking of Vibeke, Katya and Aino-Maria created a neat way to thread a loom this deep.

Vibeke will be taking 4 looms to Convergence this time, with setts varying from 30 – 180 epi, featuring 6 – 12 modules and weaving widths from 18″ – 56″.  Do go and try them out if you are at Long Beach.  I can guarantee you will find the experience enjoyable.  This is jacquard at its most friendly and approachable!  One day I plan to have my own but in the meantime, I will take any opportunity I get to weave on one!!

And did I mention that the TC2 is more affordable than the TC1??  How many more reasons do you need to try it for yourself!!

Oh – and go and check out the TC2 and TC1 facebook page which has recently been set up, and if you like what you see, click ‘Like’!  Help to spread the word about this fab new loom!!


Happy weaving!

10 June, 2012

Graduate Textile show – Derby – Caroline Goellner

Filed under: Art,Education,Jacquard weaving,textiles,Weaving — Tags: , , — admin @ 1:00 pm

It’s the time of year for graduate shows, and I went to the University of Derby shows this week.  I was particularly interested in one weaver, Caroline Goellner, an Austrian who has only been weaving since September.

When visiting the weaving sheds to discuss getting some jacquard work woven, I wander round the looms to see what’s on and what people are doing.  Caroline’s work appealed to me right from the start.  She has used a limited colour palette of soft gold, white/monofilament, black and occasional brights.  She was using monofilament, polyamide, video tape, and silk, and was creating interesting textural and subtle structural pieces.  In her jacquard work she was looking to create dimensional movement in work that reminded me of Andela Lukanovic and using a subdued palette of greys, creams and white.

With her permission, I have included images.  I love this work and think Caroline shows great promise.  She is hoping to go on to study for a masters looking into weaving sound.  I hope she does!

http://carolaline-laline.blogspot.co.uk/ is where you can see her interactive video and read more about her.


3 June, 2012

The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet

Filed under: Life — admin @ 8:14 am

This week I have found my philosophy of life, contained in the activities of Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore, Kanga and Roo, Owl and Christopher Robin.

I have always loved the books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, finding great affection and companionship in the characters, but when the Tao of Pooh caught my eye on the university library shelves, I found myself appreciating both the writing of AA Milne and Benjamin Hoff’s translation of Pooh et al into Taoist philosophy.

It is an entertaining book, light-hearted with some very deep-rooted thought behind it, but always delivered in a gentle, non-preachy style that brings in our favourite characters as if we are in conversation with them.  It’s a complete contrast to many of the philosophy books I have been trying to read lately, especially in direct contrast to Kant, which I am trying to get my head around at the moment.  From the mental confusion of that, the gentleness and simplicity of The Tao of Pooh is like an iced drink on a boiling hot day, or – more appropriate to the weather today in the UK – a hot soup on a cold winter’s day!!

We may have finished at university until September, but my reading list is as long as ever, and growing by the day!!  This was a gem to start the work with, and despite being written in 1992, was very prophetic in what would happen to the western economies in the last few years.

If you get nothing else from this book, you’ll still have had a good couple of evenings reading with passages to make you chuckle, and others to make you think.  For me, that’s a good thing on its own!