I susbscribe to VAV Magasinet.
This is a recent subscription and during my perusal of the latest VAV magazine, I realised how narrow my awareness of the weaving world actually is. I thought that I was relatively up on weaving traditions internationally, but then I realised that that was purely based on the English speaking world! Boy, was I embarrassed at myself!
I live in the UK, part of Europe, and yet somehow not part of Europe. I identified much more with the US, at a far greater remove geographically, than with our neighbours across the North Sea. I travel hundreds of miles to attend Convergence and Complex Weavers Seminars, and yet don’t often think to cross the English Channel to Europe or the North Sea to Scandinavia to attend weaving conferences there, and yet the weaving scene in Scandinavia is really healthy! Probably even more so than in the UK and the US!!
I also subscribe to Textile Forum by ETN, the European Textile Network. That focuses mostly on things happening in Germany, and reports on events in the wider European world. Somehow, I wasn’t crediting what was happening in Europe with the same importance as things happening in the UK and the US.
Why is that? Am I a weaving snob? Golly, I hope not, and yet I begin to think perhaps I am, albeit unconsciously. Or am I English-centric, only wanting to go to things where the language is one I know well? Why do I not think of going to European shows? Why do I believe that there is a huge void between the world of enthusiasts, and the world of commercial weavers? Is there anything out there filling that void?
Looking at VAV, I realised that in Scandinavia at least, there most certainly is and has been for centuries.
I went to Lyon in 2005 as part of the European funded Leonardo da Vinci Craft Skills Exchange programme. I went to meet contemporary jacquard weavers, but couldn’t find many people actively engaged in weaving for their living other than in a commercial factory/large company setting. The two I met, Ludovic De La Calle at Soierie Saint-Georges and Monette Maitre-Pierre, experienced the same problems that I and so many others do.
I also met up with a wonderful group of people called Trame de Soi, and have been back to see another exhibition of theirs last year. So I do know that there are groups and individuals in France. It’s a fairly similar story to the UK – most people are enthusiasts with just a few ‘professional’ textile artists. Support is even less in France than it is in the UK; in comparison we are extremely fortunate in the level of business and financial support that is available in the UK. We have a history of self-employment that just doesn’t exist in France in the arts community.
One thing I have realised from writing this article is that my pre-conceptions just have to go. Heavens only knows how they got there in the first place, but the weaving world is too small for there to be such constraints in my mind!! So I will be grateful to know and expand my knowledge of what’s going on in Europe, and to make connections with more weav