I was recently asked to run a weaving workshop as part of a one day conference on Texture. This was run by two PHD students in the English Department at St Andrews University.
Several academics from different universities around the UK were invited to give talks about how texture crosses boundaries and weaves people together. The conference explored the relationship between the written word (or text), poetry, film, textiles and how the digital world conveys texture. It was a fascinating day and made me consider my own design work from a completely different perspective.
There were many inspiring talks, but these are a few that stood out for me:
Dr Frank Ferguson (University of Ulster), gave a talk about the poet John Hewitt who wrote poetry about the rhyming weavers of Antrim and County Down. He described how words have texture to them, that can ‘make things better’. They have an honesty to them, weaving peoples lives together.
Dr Rachel Dickinson (Manchester Metropolitan University), talked about ‘The Eternal Harmony of Warp & Woof: Ruskin, Weaving & Social Harmony. Ruskin’s ethical aesthetics of textiles which talked of educating the mill weavers, giving them proper housing and fair wages, which in turn would result in beautiful products that gave the weaver a sense of pride, pleasure and moral lesson. Ruskin felt that people needed to be entwined to learn from each other.
Dr Lucy Donaldson (University of Bristol), gave a talk about how the film industry creates texture in sound and image.
Lucie Hazelgrove-Planel (University of St Andrews) gave a talk entitled ‘Pacific Island weaving knowledge in the digital age’. She explained how an online museum had been set up to record woven patterns used by weavers who made mats from plants. This included a description of pattern and texture and how they related to different festivals. A fascinating record of information, but most islanders did not have access to the internet.
My workshop, introduced the physical texture of textiles. I demonstrated weaving on a 4 shaft table loom and encouraged participants to have a go for themselves. I talked about how texture can be made by chose of yarn, pattern and how the cloth is finished.
It was an absorbing day and we all learnt something new from each other, just as Ruskin had said we needed to do to develop further.
So much food for thought!