The Art of Spinning and Weaving
At the end of 2017 I was privileged to be able to spend a week and a half at Old Bank Studios as one of their resident artists. My intention when arriving was to grapple with my new oak warp weighted loom. I had the space and the time to get stuck in and experiment with warping it up and learning to weave on it. This was a really wonderful experience of self lead discovery through necessity. I had no internet or books so trial and error was used to find my own way around this beautiful apparatus. I learnt a lot about string heddles, tensions and recycling. My loom weights were not out of the kiln yet so I used jars filled with water to create the tension on the warp threads. This turned out to be very successful and made a beautiful tinkling sound when used
I realised that the loom itself is a beast with it's own life. The wood is still quite green so it will twist and change as I work on it. The wood will mature in colour, settle, perhaps crack a little. I guess I will too ! It is a beautiful sculpture in its own right, it is a skeleton waiting for ligaments to stretch a musculature of woven cloth to it. The loom is a great yawning mouth yearning to be clothed. There are stories waiting to be told with this beautiful thing and I am excited to find out what will be told. Her name is gwia - cornish for the action to weave - I feel it is a word entrenched in the action itself.
Whilst at the residency I also invited a local weaver and friend Carrie along to do some spinning with. She gave me some lessons on weaving with a wheel and drop spindle. We jumped straight in with cups of tea, chatting, weaving and spinning together. It felt like an extremely special day, evoking the circles of women who have done this for thousands of years. Carrie taught me about spinning 'in the grease' which I found really interesting. This is when you spin straight from the fleece with no carding or washing, this keeps the lanolin intact and gives a more waterproof finish. There was something very magical I felt in that act, something that was connected to the very root of creating a thread. I am still thinking about this and would like to explore this further in the new year.
The residency culminated on the turning on of the Christmas lights in Penryn when we had a showing of a film by Rachel Jones, a local filmmaker. This film was archive footage entwined with footage of myself and Carrie working. This was a beautiful juxtaposition as we realised that the essence of the crafts have not changed since they have begun ! I also got a chance to exhibit all of my work together for the first time. This was a wonderful feeling to see everything up on the wall. I got a chance to see themes, textures, similarities that run through my cloth. This week was so beneficial to my practice and I thank Camilla, Hannah and Deva for having me. I would love to come back again one day and do some more work at Old Bank. If you are in Penryn go and have a look at the other work showing there, it is an inspiring hub of magic in this little Cornish village.