Well, what can I say, it has been a rollercoaster ride. I find myself at the end of my studies (for now?) Degree is drawing to a close with the final collection of handwoven, naturally dyed samples made, submitted and exhibited. I know, it is not wool! This is the very strange thing about a degree that I have found. It certainly takes on a life of its own. I found myself examining the properties of natural fibres, asking questions; ultimately shifting my own perspectives. I arrived at what if linen challenged our perspectives…..what if it could stretch.
Woven on a 90cm AVL dobby loom in white high twist linen, initially, this piece, pictured above, had a unique character of its own, resembling lacy white curtains of a tuscan villa! The magic of energetically spinning a thread past a balance is in the interaction with water. Having been woven much more open, the fibres are allowed to move and do what comes naturally, wriggling, retracting seemingly shrinking to create a crepe, stretchy fabric. That 90 cms woven cloth becoming two thirds of its original size and stretchy. It is so exciting to create innovative cloth from changing the parameters of what we have come to expect.
Still on the loom.
I loved each process watching it transform before my eyes. Using a particular element of Shibori; the art of stitch resist, challenged the perception of embroidery and embellished stitch. Knowing the stitches were to be removed, allowed me to reflect on the lack of permanence to fashion items, here was a very old traditional craft resilient guiding my hand. Fashion trends come and go, and often work on a loop system, Craft skills handed down generation to generation are invaluable in providing a way to express ourselves to reflect the current thoughts whilst preserving our heritage. The challenge is to keep these crafts alive by continually creating contemporary craft deeply grounded in them. Giving cloth, in this case a sense of history, heritage ….a narrative to be cherished and ultimately a value not to be discarded lightly or irresponsibly.
All stitched and gathered waiting to go in the Indigo vat
Life never quite goes according to plan for me. Well for a start I was born in the city of London, whilst my heart seemed intrinsically attached to the countryside! I mean countryside , to a point where off grid and wild and windy Scotland crofts came into virtual grasp! Well, I didn’t make it that far. As i say, life has other plans. However, I do and have for 12 years lived in a remote ish dwelling, by my standards at least. Off grid no but it’s own water supply with plenty of stories to tell for a later post, hilarious now but at the time disastrous. It has its own sewage too. so no quite dry compost loos as of yet! Being on the end of a telephone and electricity lines bring their own challenges to a modern growing family but hey we survived, just about. Idyllic and blooming hard work.
Four children have grown with me into and for some of them out of the love with this magical forest dwelling. 2001 being 7, 4, 18 months on arriving and adding to the brood in 2003 made four. We are unfortunately coming to the end of our magical existence here and go forward with real experience of the unbelievable good fortune, experience and delight of being here and also the challenges faced of pursuing the ‘good life’. We have grown, harvested, kept various menageries of animals, facing all the ups and downs that mostly could not even be imagined as part of this existence. many, many times it felt a privilege and a few times perhaps more than i wished it to be; an enormous burden.
The city lives in me. My roots i cannot ignore. I adore the culture, the arts the diversity of it all. I lived amongst bohemian lifestyles, ghetto existences almost, high rise blocks and trade unions strikes, standpipes and sugar mountains. I collected driftwood by the boatrace bonanza of Putney Bridge and scraped diligently for clay pipes and roman remains of yesteryears in sites of new estates. I learnt to drive in the chaotic merry go rounds and rides of the Hogarth Roundabout and Chiswick Flyover. I leisurely flooded my moped in the parks of Richmond during a torrential summer storm because I was past caring how wet I could become. I was soaked through to the innermost garments of secrecy!
The natural elements have always played their part with and in my life. City or countryside I gravitated to nature.
So as I begin another chapter. Potting Shed Direct the Gardening business I began in 2008 has now become my creative space. To dabble, ponder with nature creatively. Ever inquisitive and wondering. What if….. x