An artist who weaves: creating textiles with character and depth
I’ve worked as an artist and designer/maker since graduating from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2004. Having always been interested in textiles and how they were made, I remember being drawn immediately to the looms in the textile department when I first visited the Academy, and found weaving addictive from the start: my first tentative steps on a table loom, passing the weft through the warp, the patterns and structures that emerged.
From chemist to weaver, a desire to create and use my hands has been the driving force throughout my life. An interest in materials, transformations and the underlying make up of the world about me led me to study chemistry, but I was left feeling unfulfilled unless I was using my hands creatively. When the opportunity to study fashion and textiles at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague arose I took it, specialising in constructed textiles and graduating in 2004. At the Academy I was able to develop as an artist, as well as explore the process of observing, interpreting and pulling apart to reconstruct in the medium of textile. During that time, after winning the European Wool Awards with felted wool knitted textile designs, I fell in love with wool as a material. The behaviour of wool is like alchemy to me, transforming and morphing itself when washed and felted. However, it was weaving as a technique that really spoke to me right from the start. The ability to create a piece of fabric from an unruly mass of fibres is magical, constantly fascinating, and enables me to interpret what I see about me, my response to the world, in texture and colour. For me, each yarn, its texture, properties and hue, is like paint to a painter, clay to a ceramicist. And each piece I weave is a journey, capturing a piece of me, the maker’s mark, in the cloth that grows on my loom.
I make scarves, wraps, cowls and ponchos to wear, and cushions, table runners and throws for the home. More experimental works using paper and metal threads become handwoven wall panels and hangings.
Texture and colour define my work: I want to give the woven textile depth and character. This is achieved through the weave structure itself, and by combining yarns with different properties, thick and thin, shiny and matt, flexible and stiff, and felting and nonfelting. Wool is always present, along with silk, linen and cotton. I also use synthetic yarns in small amounts as the sparkle these add is irresistible. My yarns are often one-off cones bought as and when I find them, meaning that items woven with them are not reproducible. Because of this, every item I weave is unique. The initial spark of inspiration can come from a place, a piece of art, a photograph or simply from the yarns on my shelf. Sketches, collage and work on paper are an integral part of my design process, although the actual weaving is a fluid, intuitive act, not overly planned. I work on instinct, putting together a warp, dressing the loom and then embarking on our journey together, the warp and I, discovering what we have to learn from each other. Once a piece has been woven, it’s washed several times, at least once by hand, when I manually felt the wool to encourage texture and depth. The transformation that occurs, the softening of colours, the patterns and textural structures that emerge, are like alchemy.
By its very nature, the act of weaving requires some planning before even beginning to make the warp on the warping frame, let alone threading the heddles on the loom. However, I like to embrace serendipity in my work. Randomness of colours and textured yarns allows patterns and colour effects to emerge almost accidentally which, for me, is akin to painting with the yarns.
I really believe in the permanence of textiles, carrying peoples’ memories and experiences. Knowing the story behind an item, the inspiration and the process of its making, and things that happen to it subsequently, I hope will turn a piece into a treasured possession. A scarf that will bring pleasure year after year; a baby blanket that will be passed down through the generations, a cushion that will bring comfort and colour. A thing of beauty and functionality. It’s a privilege to think that my textile might be a part of the story.
© All images and designs Veronica Pock 2019.