Trace and Echo

text: Gizella Warburton

If you were to ask me to describe my work and the materials I use in a few brief sentences. I would say the following:

‘trace and echo … mark and resonance … materiality and meaning’

Contemporary textile and mixed media pieces for interior spaces.

Framed, hanging and sculptural artworks and installations. Developments include works on slate and weathered wood grounds, printed and woven elements, and sculptural forms and vessels.

However, my work is more complex and it explores an intuitive response to linear, textural and light detail within landscape and surface. These abstract compositions evolve through the tactile and contemplative process of drawing with paper, cloth and thread. Mark making is an intrinsic part of my practice: shadowed, scratched, stained, scarred, pierced, wrapped and stitched.

My relationship with creating is visceral: I “feel” where the work emanates from, where it is leading and as I ‘see’ it. The materiality of cloth, paper, thread, wood and paint connects me to an innate human urge to make marks—to decipher the meaning of our physical and emotional landscapes, and the transient nature of the warp and weft of our lives. The slow tactile intimacy of stitching is my mantra.

After I received a first class honors degree in Printed and Woven textiles at Manchester Metropolitan University, my practice has its origins in stitched cloths. Techniques are not “formal” and, though undoubtedly rooted in embroidery and patchwork, I experiment with numerous processess and refine them, seeking to describe the way elements have imprinted themselves in my mind.

Fragments of materials are brought together in a similar way to collage or assemblage, with tiny holding stitches to capture layers. I then create gestural marks with threads, paint, charcoal, etc. Dyeing and printing and techniques may be included, and I occasionally embellish areas. Recently I have reintroduced weaving to my practice and sometimes use felting and papermaking techniques.

Developments in my three-dimensional pieces have challenged me to find ways to make the forms I conceptualise, and to consider the compositional relationship of materials, as in my two-dimensional collage based pieces.

I am drawn to materials that suggest a fragile balance; strength and legacy, yet susceptibility to wear and tear, permeating them with their own intrinsic tactile qualities.

I have always found ancient and humble textiles and primitive vessel forms particularly compelling; the raw and worn simplicity of the weaving, stitching, binding and repairing bear the patina of our human histories.

Japanese boro textiles, Indian kanthe cloths, and the simple quilts of the Saami beggar caste; these fragments of cloth and thread hold traces of the rhythms and movements of human hand and thought, time and place.

A line changes in relation to the materials it touches, as it travels, encircles, wraps and pierces, and  the fibers, creases and shadows of paper, textile, stone, and eroded surfaces, form their own linear traceries. The harmonies or tensions created by the way a line meets, crosses, disappears, or is interwoven with others, resonates with my own experiences of relationships and places.

As part of a new venture initiated by Creative Twinning and Design Factory, two organisations who support the development of Contemporary Craft in the UK, I have been selected to exhibit work at the Textile Arts Center in Manhattan in October 2013. This event forms part of a wider mission in conjunction with Parsons New School of Design in New York, who are hosting a “Craft Conversation” with British and American craftmakers and artists on October 10th.

This new relationship promises to be an exciting and enriching opportunity to share dialogue around  approaches to making, and to explore possibilities for collaborative projects “across the waters.”