Following the long summer break, it’s sometimes difficult to jump straight back into a state of creative flow. I was helped greatly by having an unfinished warp on the loom, which I’ve been able to dwell on over the past two months. Once I started work again, the pieces seemed to fall into place. I usually work with an element of serendipity, letting the patterns emerge through randomising colours and patterns on the loom, as in this case. I rarely have a clear vision of what I will produce, rather the materials and process take over and I let them speak for themselves.
In the case of my paper weavings, the deconstructed newspaper, cut into strips, is reassembled on the loom and forms new images from the disconnected text and images. Four new pieces quickly emerged in the space of a week. The newspaper I used was from February of this year and, as I wove, words and snippets of texts emerged. News items that are still ongoing, with all their repercussions around the world today. I’m still working with the intention to bring three-dimensionality to the woven fabric, and floating and loose ‘threads’ bring the pieces to life. The combination of fine linen, hemp and cotton threads with fragile yet bulkier newspaper strips creates an intriguing contrast.
‘Way markers’ was woven before the summer break, from a vintage ordnance survey map of a section of the Pennine Way, a path which traverses the backbone of my native England from the Peak District to the Scottish Borders. It incorporates sections where additional warp has been inserted, woven separately, to create loops and hanging threads. Additionally, I’ve manipulated the piece so that it undulates and unfurls, emulating the twists and turns we take in life, guided by way markers along the route. The map has already had a life: it has annotations and water marks, creases and tears, and is heavily imbued with memories of the paths it has already travelled. This piece goes some way to embody these memories in a physical representation. As Paul Klee once said, ‘Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible.’
Remnant yarns: a warp revisited
This month I’ve also been able to begin work on a project I’ve been itching to attempt for some time now. When the warp is woven into fabric on the loom in small batch production such as mine, there’s always a section of warp at the end that cannot be woven, as it passes through the heddles and is tied onto the end beam. Rather than simply discard these ‘waste’ warp ends, over the years I’ve saved them all. It always felt wrong to throw away this material, which is perfectly useable; as you can imagine, I now have quite a large backlog. I spent some time sorting the ends into colour groups, and then began the task of knotting the ends together to form a continuous thread, ready to be used as weft thread. I’ve just removed the first ‘remnant’ scarf from the loom, woven in a mixture of charcoals, greys and ecru. The scarf incorporates Alpaca yarn which I bought many years ago whilst on holidays in Peru. Every yarn in the scarf has a story to tell.
Sheila Hicks: ‘Off Grid’ at the Hepworth, Wakefield
Sheila Hicks’ work is inspirational to anyone working with textiles and beyond. She was a pioneer, championing textile as an art form, and her works are both monumental and miniscule in scale. Studying at the Yale School of Art in Connecticut (1954 to 1959), Hicks’s went on to directly examine indigenous weaving practices in the countries of their origin, and this research characterises her work. Hicks’ major exhibition ‘Off Grid’ at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield, UK, reveals how her extensive travels across several continents, immersing herself in local communities and studying textile traditions by observing and collaborating with local artists and artisans, together with her own experimentation and natural curiosity, inspired her to develop a unique artistic language.
Vibrant colour for autumn days
As the seasons shift and the days shorten, so I feel the need for some bright colours to complement the changing trees and skies. Earlier this year I worked on a new weave design incorporating open breaks in the fabric. The resulting scarf is wonderfully textural, light, soft and warm. This is now available in my online store at LiminalWEAVE.
… for joining me on my creative journey through the seasons. If you’d like to see more of my work and inspirations, I post regularly on Instagram @veronicapock and my work is available online at LiminalWEAVE on Etsy.