Thursday, March 7, 2013

Process and Individuality

Prometheus Dreams, 2005 Linda Wallace
This week I am featuring an article writen by Linda Wallace, a tapestry weaver in British Columbia, Canada that she wrote for the British Tapestry Group. In it she articulates her thoughts about how she has learned to evolve her personal style. The first half of the article appears this week and the remainder will appear next week. Although Linda describes the process in terms of labeling herself as an 'artist' , this same philosophy or approach is also true for craftspeople.

Process and Individuality 
Developing a visual continuity, where viewers are able recognize an artist’s work, is an ephemeral process.  Each of us who reach that stage arrives using different pathways, but common elements underlie them all.  The development of an individual style takes years of learning and practicing skills as well as constant self-critiquing.  I do not believe short cuts exist and the old “Carnegie Hall” truism cannot be denied.

Here are a few thoughts for those who are still searching for their individual voice.  Create, weave, pay attention to intuitive responses and follow where your ‘self’ leads you.  Weave, and while you work: pay attention to what areas work, what could be improved and struggle to figure out how.  With each tapestry completed, the experience and knowledge gained will improve the next one. Pay attention to what you respond to, draw, sketch, photograph, critique your own work and the work seen in galleries.  Follow your heart.  We know all of these things, but we need to believe in them. 
When I wander galleries and find myself drawn into another artist’s work, responding to it at a visceral level, I always want to know more about it.  If the work is tapestry, I understand the medium but I am curious about the process the artist followed.  How did that one unique, individual tapestry come to be? 

The answer to that question is as individual as the artist.  Each of us could fill a book with the story of how and why we make the work we do, but I will try to encapsulate a bit of my own process and share it. 

I finally decided to follow the voice in my head, to become the artist I believed I could be, and enrolled in art college in my forties.  The benefit of taking life experience into that intense milieu, coupled with exposure to multiple disciplines allowed me to find my media:  tapestry and graphite drawings.
As time passed and I created more work, I knew my heart and my hands were revealing my own pathway.  There were commonalities:  the concepts are driven by my engagement with humanity, social structure, our uneasy relationship with each other and with the world around us; my drawings and the imagery in my tapestries are organic in nature; colour, beauty and materiality are elements I combine with the drawn imagery to write the symbolic narrative of each piece.

Beware the Petards, 2010. 10" x 10" graphite on paper.

Before anything concrete happens, I research.  The form of that research may be the traditional reading of pertinent articles, forming concepts, seeking symbols and iconographies, allowing the concept to shift without restraint, letting it build depth and complexity.   Visual and tactile research is continual: wallowing in colours, light and textures, absorbing sensations as I run my hand over yarns, over tree bark, over stones.  I photograph patterns:  natural and constructed.  And, I think about narrative and the viewer.
Part week.
Kate Kitchen, 10" x 10", wood and fibre
Kate Kitchen recently completed this tapestry-like piece. She says of it:
"This one of the series of my new tapestry weavings that are woven with linen warp and include wood from a cherry tree that fell in a summer storm outside my studio. The design of the weaving is inspired by damage, also from a storm, to the bark of a nearby paper birch tree.
Weaving together these natural elements that surround me as I work was the goal.
I have also written a poem to accompany each weaving. This is the for this piece."

Old Wood
Rings of time long passed
Join with linen grasses and sheep’s wool
All impermanent
But they fill me with joy.

Are you looking to exhibit your work?
Ann Noble let me know about the Maria Schuka Public Library located at Eglinton and Dufferin. It offers FREE display space for art work. Many libraries offer the same arrangement so check out your own local library.
GAS - Gerrard Art Space also accepts proposals from people wanting to exhibit their work. There is a fee. To know more go to

Community Threads Project, Alliston Ontario.
Funded in part by the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Handweavers and Spinners
Nathalia Sugden recently wrote:
"Many, many members have each in their own way helped to make this project a success. The photographers, painters, drawers, the outliners, the ones culling photos, the choosers of yarns and colour, the preparers of the looms, the weavers, finishers, the people working on the applications for grants, the bearers of the tapestries for exhibit at many local and weaving events, the organizers, eventually the blockers of the tapestries and the hanging and final showing at exhibits, etc., etc. All hands and all help has brought rewards to the whole Guild! Bravo!!"
Monday March 18 11am to 8pm
All are welcome to attend and participate in the official launch of the international tapestry project. Already 150 people from 20 countries are co-creating this tapestry installation entitled Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination/Le Sort, le Destin and l'auto-determination, funded by the Ontario Arts Council. You do not have to be enrolled in the classes to participate. If you would like to weave on the main tapestry please come to the launch. If you can't make it, you are welcome to come Mondays and Wednesdays between 10am to 9pm during the school year (except for holidays). It's wise to double check with me to be sure the facility is open on the day you intend to be there.
Design, colours and butterflies prepared by Line Dufour. Agota Dolinay prepared the warp heading, positioned the butterflies and was the first to weave on the communal tapestry and prepare it for the public and invited guests to continue weaving the tapestry.

Thank you to everyone for their contributions and submissions. Feel free to keep me posted as to what you are doing in your tapestry endeavours.



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