tapestry touring international
march 11 - april 22, 2021
virtual opening hosted on march 13, 2021
INTERFACE is both the title and the conceptual theme of a woven-tapestry exhibition produced by Tapestry Touring International (TTI). Jane Freear-Wyld, of Coventry, England is the founder and coordinating director of TTI: a not-for-profit collective of tapestry artists who individually interpret the exhibition’s theme and create a small-format tapestry (max. 25 x 25cms). Individual artistic vision of the common theme gives the exhibition both conceptual unity and dynamic variety.
Freear-Wyld selected the word “interface” because of the diversity of its meanings: reflecting both social structures – real lived experience of virtual ones; and its contemporary resonances of technology. The single word placed virtually no limitations on the tapestry artists’ creative process. Beyond a creative catalyst, “Interface” plays many different roles in the creation of this exhibition: it connects artists from two countries; each artist’s loom is their interface between concept and tapestry; the interaction of warp and weft and fibre choices; the exhibition itself is the interface between artist and audience.
INTERFACE features the tapestries of 30 invited artists: 15 from England and 15 from Canada. The Canadian weavers span the country, living in Alberta, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec. The 30 weavers represent artists at various stages of their career: from novice weavers to those with international reputations.
INTERFACE aims to enlighten, inspire and educate its audience in relation to the variety and range of individual approaches to both the conceptual and technical bases for creating a woven tapestry.
INTERFACE is the second non-juried international touring exhibition coordinated by Tapestry Touring International (TTI). The first, Elements: earth, wind, air, fire, featured the work of 30 invited artists representing the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. Each weaver-artist interpreted, rather than represented, one or more elements. This collection of 30 tapestries successfully toured a total of 5 exhibition venues across the three countries.
Tapestry Touring International is preparing for future international touring exhibitions featuring weaver-artists from different countries interpreting new themes to create new and dynamic exhibitions.
Read more about the participating artists below, including long-time CCBC member Barbara Heller.
Jackie Bennett has been creating in woven form for over 20 years. She trained as a tapestry weaver at West Dean College and is influenced by the techniques of many modern weavers. She explores themes of personal relevance, such as responses to local landscapes and understanding Chinese medicine.
Janet Clark considers weaving a very rich and expressive medium. Her hope is to continue to learn from weavers throughout the world, expressing herself through colour and pattern, design and fibres.
Joyce Coulton’s chosen subjects always present a challenge. Combinations of shapes and colours in everyday situations – washing on a line, clouds, faces, traffic, gravestones, wedding guests, window reflections, have all played their part in both therapeutic and frustrating weaving journeys. Using an old picture frame as a loom, and three combined strands of embroidery thread for weft, Joyce feels free to experiment with colour. She is able to weave inside or out depending on the weather, time and place, so this also influences the work. Sticking strictly to a planned design is not how she works. Once having begun, the weaving itself takes over and she tries to follow, curious to see where it will eventually lead.
Heidi Flaxman’s creative practice is influenced by cartography, topography and geology with a focus on developing a coalescence between digital fabrication techniques and traditional hand making skills, specifically those of tapestry weaving. The inclusion of digital fabrication has been removed for Interface; with the focus being on the tapestry. Heidi explores the unseen in the form of microscopic geology slides and presents the aesthetic of minerals through the slow process of tapestry; selecting samples by colour and natural pattern from the British Geological Surveys online data collection. The birefringent qualities of the minerals expose colours when viewed beneath a polarising microscope, this forges an interdisciplinary approach to her work and fuels her love of learning and geological aspects. Most of the yarns used within her tapestry work are dyed by Heidi. She likes to create colour, this includes dyeing the yarn and mixing the colours on the warp.
It’s the process of weaving that Jane Freear-Wyld absolutely loves; watching a design grow and evolve. The creative process begins with a photograph, followed by computer manipulation. That’s always a mystery – how can a click of a button change an image so completely? Colour, texture, shape and pattern are what fascinate the artist, and the process of transforming a computer printout into a hand-woven tapestry. When weaving small format tapestries, Jane uses a range of cotton, linen and silk weft threads on a cotton warp, working on a wooden frame.
Tapestry has a presence and sculptural quality which immediately attracted Margaret Jones to the medium itself. The images she weaves are from various sources such as drawing, paintings and photos, all are usually edited digitally where she can add layers and depth. Margaret also does a lot of editing in her head, so colours will be decided in her head rather than on the screen. A big tapestry can take a long time to weave and it is during this time where she meditates on the next tapestry, giving her plenty of opportunity to mull over different ideas. The themes she currently finds recurring in her work are those of loss and the cyclical nature of the human condition.
Most of Lindsey’s tapestry weaving is concerned with conveying interpretations of the meaning of words; either overheard or from literature or social media. The work begins with drawing of letterform shapes, produced in gestural scripts which are then developed, often into abstracted forms. The words are an important element of the work: intended to be viewed as word and/or image and, where visible, are not necessarily meant to be legible or obvious.
The technique of woven tapestry, the interlacing of warp with weft, determine / influence, to some extent, the interpretation of the concept.
Tim Oelman has been weaving tapestries since 2002 when he first attended classes at Morley College, London. He has since developed his own style inspired by Moroccan Berber rug making, often using individual examples of a range of tribal styles and motifs as a starting point. As an artist, he has used the medium of tapestry, alongside painting, sculpture and Malian mud cloth, to explore the visual language of sign and symbol. His basic tapestry materials are rug wool or wool, while sometimes using linen, rope and strips of African wax print cloth.
Tapestry weaving is Christine Paine’s artistic outlet and provides a constant exploration of ideas and processes. Her tapestries range from prehistoric images through desolate landscapes and coastal tidelines to garishly lit urban nights. She rages over the loss of the natural world and create elegies using colour and light. Christine has a Postgraduate Diploma in Tapestry Weaving and a Professional Development Diploma in Tapestry and Textile Art from West Dean College in the UK. She lives and weaves near the sea in Christchurch, Dorset, UK.
Tapestry weaving is a slow and technical process. Concept, preparatory sketches, design, cartoon making, decisions about yarn, scale and techniques, warping and finally the long hours of weaving, all this is still just as exciting for each new work created by Jane Riley. Jane works from sketchbooks and photographs, recently enjoying combining watercolours with digital drawing on her tablet. Jane’s themes come from her love of the environment and the natural world. Long walks, coastline – especially the inter-tidal zone and strandline, woodland, birds, moors, all provide rich sources of inspiration. She tends to work on one theme for a long time creating a body of work that explores and develops ideas and images. Currently all her work is about seaweed, and it has Jane wading out to sea at low tide with her camera and sketchbook scouring rock pools and the strandline.
The natural world has always been of interest to Christine Sawyer, so it seemed appropriate for her to make work which expresses concern for the welfare of the environment. Weaving is such an absorbing medium, slowly, thoughtfully, focussing, building a structure, if feels like making a positive contribution to a world which is experiencing so much loss. Recently she has been looking at microscopic images of the minute organisms which form the basis of life. The forms are wondrously varied and vital. Christine makes colour studies on paper, a mixture of observation, memory and imagination, and when a suitable one appears, it becomes the basis for a tapestry cartoon. Christine feels the need to confess to including a heavy dose of invention, and the cartoon acts as advisor, not dictator.
In her rather hectic life, tapestry weaving provides a haven of order, calm and intense concentration. At her age, Dot admits that she sometimes despairs the speed in which everything seems to have to be done these days. Traditional tapestry weaving is a perfect antidote, a great example of the “Slow Movement”: it cannot be mechanized or computerized – at least not yet. What is not to like about this particular weaving process which does not require expensive or complicated equipment? The rhythm of picking up the warp threads and passing through and beating down the wefts; the gradual organic growth of the work from initial idea worked out on paper; what size will it be; which yearns to use; which colours (will she need to dye some?); etc.
It is a combination of head, hands and heart.
Making has been a part of Lin’s whole life. Tapestry weaving is where she has found herself for the last 10 years. Her practice is based on her continuing exploration of the medium of weave, her love of technology and its role in design and, like so many people, a passion for the natural world. Out of this melting pot of sketches, digital drawings, photos and artefacts come a seemly limitless set of options for design. Any that make it as far as her loom tend to be finished – design-wise – on the loom with her hands having the final say.
David has always worked within the arts and education and discovered the medium of tapestry weaving some 6 years ago. His introduction to all things weaving took place at Morley College, London under the guidance of William Jefferies. He has subsequently studied with Caron Penney and Pat Taylor.
Mike creates both tapestry weavings and (often quilted) fabric collages. He also seeks to combine his interests in textiles with others in bookbinding and metal. He enjoys experimenting with colour and texture, and textiles are an ideal medium for this. He finds real opportunities in combining different media, such as the contrast of hard cold metal with soft threads and fabric or incorporating found objects (from skips, beaches, walking etc.). There are special challenges in combining different disciplines which provide great satisfaction. Mike takes inspiration from both geometric forms with their inherent symmetry, and also from the more irregular shapes, textures and colours of the environment around us. Work with textiles and threads has opened his eyes and mind to the world around us, and he is now aware of, and see, both details and bigger pictures.
As with most forms of communication, woven tapestry can be a means by which one can comment on imaginary or real events. For Madeleine, the tapestry medium functions as one vehicle for self-expression. She appreciates the permanency conveyed in a finished piece, providing the illusion that time can be made to stop, so that one can re-live the moments in its creation, until it is time to move on. Through tapestry, Madeleine strives to celebrate images in my immediate environment and create woven stories, to be interpreted without restriction, from the viewer’s perspective.
Elaine has been weaving for the past 50 years starting with yardage and then growing to love tapestry. She has been very fortunate to have many wonderful teachers and have met so many great people and travelled to many places. Elaine currently resides in Mexico and still retains a residence in Sidney, BC, on Vancouver Island. Many of her tapestries are inspired by the sea, the patterns in the sand, the crashing of the waves, seashells and the shore.
Thoma’s work as an artist weaver over the past forty years has been an investigation of what it means to be a human being influenced by the natural landscape and beauty of the earth. It is a visual exploration of the forces or energies that move through everything on and beyond the planet. Light is an important element and a source of personal inspiration. She tries to communicate a sense of harmony and movement in the universe. Throughout her weaving time, Thoma has been profoundly moved by the beauty and mystery of weave and has actively participated in the re-emergence of tapestry weaving as a contemporary vehicle for creative collective collaboration in schools and communities. To Thoma, weaving is a metaphor for the interactions and interconnections between all living systems of our biosphere.
To be inspired and be able to capture and transform an idea into tapestry is satisfying. Mother Nature gives us an ever-changing wonderful landscape, and many a time Terry is looking at it through a weaver’s eye. The whole process of designing, choosing colours to express the mood, simplifying to make it weaveable is rewarding. Then the slow process and the feel of yarns manipulated through his fingers watching his idea take form is why this is his passion.
With his tapestry, Murray has been thinking about “interface” as the mediator between two entities.
Murray weaves in a somewhat traditional manner: on a vertical warp loom and with the back surface of my tapestry facing him. He can see the front surface by peering between the warp threads to a mirror that hangs on the other side. For Murray, the mirror mediates between the object he is weaving and the image appearing in the mirror. That image, however, is in reverse; the mirror is an imperfect mediator of reality.
Similarly, much of contemporary life is spent in front of a screen: a phone, a computer, or a television. These flat pieces of glass, like the mirror, imperfectly mediate between two worlds: the reality of the physical being in one place at a particular time in front of the screen and the simulacrum of another place and time that appears behind the screen.
Tapestry is Barbara’s passion and she tries to be in the studio weaving every day. Hand spinning, hand-dyeing, warping the loom, weaving – these simple tasks connect her to the past and offer a meditative space for the present. Concern for the future provides motivation. Barbara draws on personal travels and experiences, her Jewish heritage, her own and old family photos, and the mystical side of world religions to develop a personal iconography which will resonate with the viewer. Barbara wants to express what the world is losing – a sense of who we are and how we fit into our world – and a hope for our future.
Ruth finds it deeply gratifying to counter the forces of globalisation, which seem to be furthered by commercial enterprise, and listen to the quieter inner voice of the ancestors. She hears it say “walk lightly in the forest, heal yourself with this medicine, and share this healing in what you weave”. Ruth joins her gathered woven parts together with a gold thread of hope.
Sondra picks a flower, studies a leaf, paints a petal; she tries to find her way through; this dialogue with nature is an all-consuming adventure.
Tapestry is a powerful art form. It opens the door to a garden of colour and texture. In a half structural way, bits of nature appear. The journey begins.
The longest border in the world passes through rivers, lakes, forests, mountains, towns and villages, from east to west, running like a ribbon from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The border between Canada and the United States even runs through a house that is situated in both countries, on the border. Lines invisible to the eye cross land and waterways; invisible lines are also between race, politics, religion, economies and fear of the “other”. American Astronaut/Photographer, Mark Kelly observed, “When I see the world from space, I am more aware of our common humanity; there are no borders and the world looks very fragile”. The language of tapestry lends itself to the exploration of “interface”, as the place where two places or people meet, and where the borders are both visible and invisible.
In 1988, tapestry artist and instructor Anthea Mallinson spoke about why every umpteenth tapestry design is woven, so every tapestry process may result in a leap of development outcomes. As such, Yolanda doesn’t expect every time she draws that there will be a tapestry, and then, suddenly, a drawing will need to be woven. When weaving to a theme, the challenge is to provide a visually interesting art piece while satisfying the idea. So that she does not get so wrapped up in the idea that the weaving is lost, Yolanda constantly reviews the elements of line, colour, form, shade and light as she works. Small format tapestry enables her to use scraps of fibre elements as an active colour palette, and to use silk, boucle, cotton slub, etc. when the design requires interesting texture or sheen. Weaving from the back allows technique that can be challenging from the front.
It was during her 4th and final year at the painting department at ACAD in Calgary that Liv started to be serious about tapestry weaving. More than 40 years later she is not looking back, although she has never owned a loom with heddles. Liv weaves on a small wooden plank with nails, which are changed from weaving to weaving. Other important tools are an ordinary steel fork, a blunt needle and different types of yarn in all colors.
Christine loves tapestry weaving, hiking in the rainforests and mountains of Vancouver Island, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, being outdoors and making things. She loves traveling to Mexico, Peru and other countries to learn about textiles, culture and weaving. Christine brings her life experiences and culture into her designs for tapestry. The structure and techniques of tapestry weaving help her to find the design and the ways to express her life in weaving.
We find ourselves, from time to time, overwhelmed by daily chaos and in need of escape. For Krystyna, weaving is an escape; it allows her to focus on the perfection of the present moment. It lets mindfulness flow like an elixir with her attention drawn to internal and external experiences happening in the present: only the present.
Nature Photography, climate change, and texture is a source of inspiration to explore through tapestry. It is the catalytic energy that surrounds this artist’s work. As a traditionally taught weaver and contemporary conceptual artist, this medium has transformed into a vast possibility of diverse approaches to Textile art.
Wallace began her artistic career in her forties. She has been involved with tapestry organizations in Canada, the UK and Australia, including five years on the Board of Directors of the American Tapestry Alliance, three of them as Co-Director. Her work is in public and private collections in Canada and private collections internationally. She has earned acclaim as not only an artist, but also as a writer, speaker and curator.
Since 2006 Wallace has battled brain tumours and survived two major surgeries, radiation, encephalitis and strokes in 2015 and 2019. Despite the medical setbacks, she has fought to regain her ability to weave, to create, and she continues to have her tapestries accepted into international juried exhibitions. The tapestries created by Wallace have changed as her medical challenges necessitated but the creative force underlying them has never dwindled. New hurdles centred on vision loss have opened new avenues of exploration and study.