An artist who weaves: creating textiles with character and depth
An interest in materials, transformations and the underlying make up of the world initially led me to follow a scientific route, studying chemistry, but in my late 20s I began to seek a greater sense of fulfilment in my work, and I returned to study textile design at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, graduating in 2004. I had always been intrigued by textiles and how they were constructed, and was immediately drawn to the looms in the textile department.
Weaving was addictive from the start, from my first tentative steps on a table loom, passing the weft through the warp, discovering the patterns and structures that emerged, to working on the jacquard looms at the Textile Museum in Tilburg. The ability to create a piece of fabric from an unruly mass of fibres is magical, constantly fascinating, and forges a link to the past through the most ancient of crafts.
While at the Academy I was able to develop as an artist, exploring in the medium of textile and, after winning the European Wool Awards in 2003 with felted wool textile designs, I fell in love with wool as a material. Its ability to transform when washed and felted really speaks to me, and combining it with other materials gives endless possibilities. I now almost always use wool in my work, in combination with other materials; each yarn, its texture, properties and colour, is like paint to me, and each piece I weave is a journey, capturing an imprint of me in the cloth that grows on my loom.
My inspiration comes from the natural world and the geography of the land, especially that of my native England and the stunning coastline of the Hebridean Islands off the West Coast of Scotland, a place close to my heart.
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, felting and nonfelting. Wool is usually present, along with silk, linen and cotton. I often use ‘mill-end’ cones bought as and when I find them, meaning that items woven with them are not reproducible.
The initial spark of inspiration can come from a place, a piece of art, a moment in time. Sketches, collage and work on paper are an integral part of my design process, but the actual weaving is a fluid, intuitive act, and not overly planned. Once I have explored my subject on paper, I work on instinct to assemble a warp.
By its very nature, the act of weaving requires some planning before 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. Once on the loom, the warp and I can embark on our journey together, discovering what we have to learn from each other.
When a piece has been woven and cut free from the loom, scarves are washed several times by hand; I gently felt the wool to encourage texture and depth. Alchemy happens, colours soften, and patterns and textural structures emerge in the new work. Woven art pieces are framed or left as wall-hangings.
© All images and designs Veronica Pock 2021