Diana's workshop which took place in Nottingham on 10th November was a very different approach to design than the 'norm' followed by many textile artists. Looking like rabbits caught in the headlights we gathered round and threw words at Diana, randomly, imaginatively, intuitively, following her instructions based around a poetry group exercise. We were given an imaginary box, a 'wonder-full' box and were asked what we would put in the box?
Those that were brave enough to offer up the first words were then sorry! Diana wanted more - if trees were suggested - what sort of trees? Ancient trees, organic, textured. When silk was suggested - give more detail: bright red silk, warm, luscious, manipulated. A bolt of luscious red silk
A diary followed - a family diary, early detailed family diaries x two.
We were encouraged to move on from the physical, this box is magic and can hold anything - the sound of the silver birch at the end of the garden; joinings, constructions of the books we had seen, torn edges, the holes where the mice had eaten.
Subtle shapes and tones of stones and shells - definately moving into poetry mode...
Beautiful illustrated books - the art of embroidery - close up images.
Diana pushed us to narrow things down, to be more specific - not dealing with abstract and generality. This excercise can move into design very easily - don't stop with your first ideas - they are just the starting point - push it further.
Threads cottons and silks appeared as we returned to the image of the stitch; ropes and glorious techniques, photographic history, ancestors, provide a context and evoke memory.
Love - where do you start with love? A place to start with love - a sense of humour, a baby's laugh that knows no bounds, infectious laughter.
Someone suggested the rhythm of the sea breaking, the slapping noise against the sand - to be preserved forever in the box. - Diana suggested we may find metaphors in our work -The slap and break and ebb and flow of the sea.
Expand on a word image to make concrete - look for layers - double meanings. What alot of varied ideas we had come up with.
From here we went on to describe the box, and the travels it had done. The group then created a vocabulary of words related to textiles:
ripped, fine, shredded, sumptuous, embellished, tulle, chiffon, cotton, silk, lace, weave, knit, patterned, stiff, shear, selvedge, pleat, ragged, felt, cuff, flowing, ribbon, corded, tapestry, pattern, yarn and on and on...
From the multitude of ideas and writings created in a very short space of time we then swapped fabric samples we had taken along, and were asked to write down some words, working very quickly, to describe the fabric we now had....mine was a piece of decorated net, old and torn, it made me think of a bit of wedding veil, faded and on the scrap heap, forgotten by family, spices and wedding cake, forgotten glory, one moment in time, veiled history, machinery silent, no longer made in Nottingham.
We returned to the theme of the sea, raised earlier looking for metaphors in our vocabulary of textile terms, and the ideas raised by our fabrics, using those to write about our imaginary sea scene....
A tapestry of colour weaves in and out of the waves
off-white roughened peaks crumple onto fine champagne sand
linear patterns left behind
a veil of net, abandoned, flows in, silent, forgotten
joyful laughter floats on the cool air, machines silent, church bells silent
Another had written ' a neat selvedge joining sand to sea...' and 'trimmings added untidily, a rough sea wall as a stiffening...'
We then went on to write some of the words, then paint those layers over them using candle perhaps as a resist some of the words retained, some lost or misted....It was a very different approach and I will be very interested in seeing some of the results from this workshop - Diana took us places we would not have considered without her intervention - thank you Diana.