As I settle in comfortably into my studio, seating myself in front of my Leclerc tissart tapestry loom, a feeling of perfect contentment comes over me. I start to think about this contentment and what it is about. This is definitely not the first time this feeling has overcome me as I weave my tapestries. One image that comes to mind as I'm sitting here weaving and I glance around the studio is how I love that I am surrounded with so much yarn in what seems an infinite array of colours and textures. It creates this very special environment. One that I would liken to a nest. No other image describes what its like as well as that one and all that it implies. I also got to thinking about what still draws me here, to this place, creating tapestry. Many other people wonder the same thing as well and I have often been asked why I weave tapestries. The other evening I was at an opening reception for an exhibition put on at the Gibson Centre in Alliston where a couple of my tapestries were included. the two that were selected were Gravity and Joy. One person, who is herself a very gifted and talented weaver, said she was overwhelmed by the size of Gravity simply because she knows how many hours were spent weaving each 'pixel' manually and that it was not done with a computerized loom or a jacquard loom which is the trend these days. Time. How we value time, how we perceive the passing of time, how we want to spend our time, the quality of our time spent here in this life.....are all factors in the choices we make as to how we want to spend it. And when I'm weaving tapestry, time seems completely suspended, though I know it is not.
Another thought that came up was how for humans the sense of touch plays an important factor in contributing to our well being. It seems to me that women especially, due to what I believe are genetic factors, intuitively participate in activities that are tactile. I think these characteristics are inherent, that we have no control over them. I believe women are prewired to be nurturers which makes us more sensitive to the tactile, all needed to care for our infant offspring. What happens then when offspring are no longer or are not a part of one's observable reality then? Why are we so drawn to these activities like knitting, crocheting, felting, weaving even sewing and heaven knows for some, even housework? Why are textiles so vital a part of our frame of reference? I want to know more about the 'science of touch' so here is the beginnings of my forays into understanding why I have always felt that I had no control over feeling propelled to participate in such activities and that it is hard wired in our brains and in our bodies. Read this about touch and one of the points they make about the sensory receptors in our hands take up much more space in our brains than most other areas of our bodies. I think this will give us great insight into ourselves and help us to understand why we can never feel entirely complete in our lives unless we understand that our bodies need this tactile way of interacting with world and of being in the world. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somatosensory_system
Recently a friend of mine returned from Paris and while she was there she visited Cluny and saw the Unicorn Tapestries. Though there is much intersting discussion as to the possible meaning of these tapestries, after having done much reading about them and the period in which they were created, I believe, based on how women were recruited to live as nuns in Abbeys, that these tapestries are about what these women would sacrifice and commit to: a renunciation of terrestrial pleasures, the conduit being each of our five senses. Each tapestry is about the renunciation of each sense in order to live a life closer to God. Many would hotly debate nowadays whether doing any such thing would bring us the feeling of being closer to God, however, I am greatful that women have so many more choices now. And I still choose to weave tapestries after having done so for the last 25 years. The possibilities are still exciting me. So many that are in my mind that I hope one day will come to fruition.