Tuesday, 20 December 2011


This is a time of year when we traditionally look both back at what has happened and forward to what may come. It has been a busy year for me, with wonderful opportunities but I am increasingly wondering who I am, as a textile artist. I wasn't even sure what I meant by the question when I thought about it, usually in the shower.....

I think back to those people who have had enormous influence over me, things they have said, things I have seen them do and how I view them. I was very struck by one of my first teachers telling me that she sees things in numbers: if she is planting a flowerbed she will see 7 tulips, nine daffodils, three iris and twenty-one crocus. When that is sorted in her mind, she will move on to the subtlties of colour, texture, spacing and timing of flowering. When I repeated this apparently bizarre account to another weaving friend, she said: "Well, don't you see it like that?!"

No, I certainly don't! But I wonder now about how I do see things, and if I was planting that same flowerbed, how I would visualize it right at the beginning? And I realise that I see things initially as textile, or aspects thereof. I look at a catkin and see a braid, I look at bourgainvillea arch and see a shawl, in silk. I look at a painting and my brain automatically begins to translate it into cloth, yarn and dye. A flower will be a subtley shaded, naturally dyed fleece; a skyscraper will be a repp woven mat; popcorn will be a textured yarn.

I like to do everything from scratch and, stupidly, feel that if every aspect of an item hasn't been produced from the raw material (scoured, carded/combed, spun, dyed and knitted or woven) by me, it has somehow failed a test I set myself. I am, however, realising that if I want to produce more textiles, I need to give myself permission to use commercially spun and dyed yarn - after all, I have no problem with my friends and colleagues using these 'short cuts.' And the skills of dyeing and weaving are valuable and satisfying in their own right.

A very happy celebration and 2012 to you all

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