An artist who weaves: creating textiles with character and depth, honesty and integrity
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’d 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, quietly passing the weft through the warp, discovering the patterns and structures that emerged, to working on the huge noisy jacquard looms at the Textile Museum in Tilburg, rapidly producing larger intricate fabrics. The ability to create a piece of fabric from an unruly mass of fibres is a magical, constantly fascinating process for me, and each new warp presents a new set of dilemmas to solve, so my work is ever-changing and challenging.
While at the Academy I was able to develop as an artist, exploring in the medium of textile. Winning the European Wool Awards in 2003 with felted wool textile designs first introduced me to wool; I fell in love with it as a material. Its ability to transform when washed and felted really intrigues me, and combining it with other materials gives endless possibilities. Combining wool with yarns such as linen, silk and cotton, I make luxury handwoven scarves and interior fabrics; each item is completely unique. I also explore the possibilities of weave using yarns to ‘paint’ a picture. Experimenting with different materials and colours on the loom, I create woven wall art that explores the interactions of hue, pattern and texture. I’m currently using vintage maps, newspapers and cassette tapes to explore the concept of recalled memories. Every piece I weave is a journey, capturing a moment in time in the cloth that grows on my loom.
Inspiration for my work 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. In recent years, I’ve travelled to Iceland and Japan, both of which have had a profound influence on my work, and the past year has seen my focus turn closer to home, to my surroundings here in The Netherlands.
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 used, along with silk, linen and cotton, and I often use ‘mill-end’ cones sourced as and when I find them, meaning that items woven with them are not reproducible. For art pieces, vintage papers and maps, cassette tapes and other recycled materials are also used.
The initial spark of inspiration can come from a place, a piece of art, a snippet of poetry, a moment in time; sometimes the material itself. 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 rigidly 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 designing 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 either framed or mounted as wall-hangings.
You can find more of my mixed media art at www.veronicapockart.com.
© All images and designs Veronica Pock 2021