Sounding Out Colour and Texture – imagination and a tapestry weaving workshop

A few weeks ago I took a tapestry weaving workshop over the weekend for the Crickhowell Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers. They had asked me if I could do a version of my workshop “Sounding out Colour and Texture”.

tapestry weaving workshop

The workshop focus was sound and the intention was to help everyone to develop ideas for tapestry weaving by using a medium that may not have occurred to them previously. It wasn’t going to be possible in the time allowed to produce finished tapestries but we were able to experiment with different techniques and materials as a means of interpreting different aspects of sound.

The language used in describing sound relates very well to the language used in the visual arts and crafts. I am not talking of the technical terms connected to audio and tapestry weaving, but rather the interpretive, emotional terms used. Colour and texture, rhythm and melody.

We often hear the term “the tapestry of life” – the wide range of techniques and materials it is possible to use within tapestry weaving make it possible to represent any number of aspects of our emotional and physical lives and sound can be an excellent starting point for exploring those possibilities.

In these workshops I would also ask people to close their eyes and imagine what colour a sound might be or what it would feel like in their hands if they could grab a hold of it.  The sound editing program I use, Adobe Audition, can show us the wave form of the sound and it can show us the “shape” of the sound in the spectral display, but it cannot tell us its texture and the colour it shows is only that selected by the user in the program’s preferences.

This is where the imagination comes in and helps us to develop the designs we may use to present an interpretation of a subject that could be said to have an extra dimension to it.

 

apart from looking at how different sounds appear visually on the spectral display of an editing program like Adobe Audition, 

Josef Herman Schools Award Project 2014

Art education is wide ranging and there are many different approaches to it, but at its core is learning to see. The primary and most effective way to learn to see is to draw. This, surely, must be at the beginning of every artist’s career – i.e. the moment, as children, we pick up a pencil, crayon, brush and make a mark with it.

Last week I was working with the Josef Herman Art Foundation Cymru on their 2014 Schools Award project. Following a tour of Ystradgynlais with Josef (1911 – 2000) played by actor Adrian Metcalfe and the “Clerk to the District Council” played by Sonia Beck, both from Lighthouse Theatre in Swansea, we ran workshops in drawing. We viewed the Foundation’s collection of Herman’s works in “The Welfare” and referenced a set of images provided by the Tate Museum for our drawing. We used both traditional drawing materials (pencil and charcoal on paper) and iPads. Sketchbook Pro has the facility to record the drawing you do on the iPad and you can see a couple of examples from the children at the bottom of this post.

Sonia invited us all back to the year 1954 when Josef Herman lived and worked in Ystradgynlais (for 11 years). She and Adrian did an excellent job of drawing us into believing that they were the real people which confused some of the children as they knew that he had died in 2000!

Adrian Metcalf as Josef Herman

Adrian Metcalf and Sonja Beck

Ystradgynlais

Looking Josef Herman artworks

Drawing workshop

Architectural Patterns

Vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines, circles, squares, rectangles – these are the elements that make up the structures of so much, if not all architecture. Add in a bit of colour and some more angles and curves and the combinations of pattern are endless.

Symmetry seems sometimes to be a prerequisite in architectural design but it is when asymmetry is used that things get really exciting and no doubt, from the architects point of view, prohibitively expensive.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the look of these buildings in Swansea’s maritime Quarter – there are plenty of those pattern combinations to be discovered. I do, however, think that it is a shame that imagination seems to come at a price.

Swansea Maritime Quarter

Swansea Maritime Quarter

Natural and Man-Made Thorns

Bramble thorns and barbed wire – both are effective means of protection!

Barbed wire has been both a feature and a theme in my work as an artist for many years now. The idea to try including barbs within the weave of my tapestries came from my need to represent something of the tension I felt whilst listening to the peace talks in Northern Ireland back in the late 1990s. Having grown up in Belfast during the 60s and 70s, it seemed to me to be the perfect material to represent conflict as my memory is of there being so much of it around at the time.

The first people to see the first tapestries I wove that incorporated barbed wire, did not think of it as representing conflict except in terms of texture – the soft wool of the weft and the hard sharpness of the barbs. They were living in the local rural community of SE Wales and only thought of barbed wire as a material for use in farming.

Metaphor or not, for me the barbs still represent conflict and although that theme in my work has broadened over the years, it is still a fact that the hard, sharp material of spikes, either man-made or natural, are there to protect one thing against another where there is a conflict of interests.

I have included a photo of one of my earlier tapestries from this thematic period – if you would like to see more examples of my work, please visit Design Fibre ICT at www.acmd.co.uk

Bramble Thorns

barbed wire

Tapestry Weaving and barbed wire

Tenses 4 – photograph by David Wibberly

More examples of my tapestry weaving can be seen at www.acmd.co.uk

A Tale of Two Cities

Middlesbrough on New Year’s Day is the focus for this week’s posts. Last week I was looking at Belfast on Boxing Day and the lack of human activity there. Middlesbrough, on New Year’s Day, was quiet as well. Two reasons for this could be that people were recovering from the night’s festivities but the other is likely to have been the weather!

The weather on the first day of 2014 in the north east of England (if not the whole of the UK) was miserable, wet and windy. Flood warnings have been regular for many places at the end of one year and the start of the next and I feel sorry for all those who have suffered from these and the accompanying power cuts.

However, the photo below proves that it was not bad weather everywhere all of the time. The sunset reflected in the windows of Middlesbrough Town Hall as seen from MIMA on New Year’s Eve is evidence of that. Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art is a fantastic bit of architecture and always has fascinating exhibitions – we make a point of visiting it each time we are staying in the area with family.

The current exhibition by local artist William Tillyer occupies both of MIMA’s main galleries and although there were only about half a dozen works that we personally liked, the whole exhibition was interesting with some of the works being visually quite deceptive. I am not allowed to show photos from the show but you can click the links above to find out more.

Middlesbrough Town Hall

This week’s featured StillWalks video is from Middlesbrough. Although the production for “Suburban Lakeside Walk” was done in the Winter, it was clearly much better weather than is evident in the iPhone photos I took around the lake this winter.

You can use the Donate button below to help StillWalks. Pay how much you want and receive a high quality download of this week’s featured StillWalks video – “Suburban Lakeside Walk” which features Hemlington Lake in Middlesbrough. Click the image below to watch the video. DVD Collections are available to order in the StillWalks Shop.

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Fibre Connections

When I started out developing StillWalks, I had already realised that the photography I was doing was informed by my other life as an artist and tapestry weaver. So when I mention my new Etsy shop, ACMDesign, for my tapestry weaving, it is not without reason.

The main reason of course, is to try and sell the tapestries, but I am also going to take the opportunity this week, to explain a little about what goes into them.

Starting at the end – today’s photos show you how I am presenting the mini tapestries which I am calling “tapestry notes” – double mounted in a box frame. The weaving measures approximately 5 cms or 2 inches square(ish) and the frame is 25 cms square.

Mini tapestry box framed

Mini tapestry box framed

Mini Tapestry in situ

The tapestry hanging above the box framed piece is one I bought from the Wissa Wassef School of Tapestry in Cairo.

You can use the Donate button below to help StillWalks. Pay how much you want and receive a high quality download of this week’s featured StillWalks video – “After the Tide” which is from the marshes on the Loughor Estuary, South wales. Click the image below to watch the video.

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Sand and Wind – Public Art In Swansea Bay

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You could call these “sand sculptures”. That is surely what the wind on Swansea beach has been doing this week.

Nervous about the hazardous mixture of sand and cameras, the wind that blew those land surfers around on the beach the other day (see previous posts this week), didn’t stop me taking the risk and getting some low level shots of the public art work it was creating.

It is not in the same style as the work featured in yesterday’s post but over the years the wind and sand have blasted and changed those public art works in Swansea Maritime Quarter.

Swansea Sand

Swansea Sand

Swansea Sand

Swansea Sand

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