Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles – Leanne Prain

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This book is on the Further Reading list for Textiles 1: Mixed Media for textiles.  I belong to the library at Farnham University for the Creative Arts.  I usually look up the books from the suggested list, make a note of the reference numbers and look to see which ones are on the shelf whenever I visit.

This book was new and shiny and published in 2014, which suggested a contemporary content.

It covers storytelling through textiles but didn’t really inspire me.  Fresh from my formative feedback for assignment 1, where I had been encouraged to explore materials that don’t interest me, I considered whether I could make myself tell a story in a similar way to any of the many examples covered.   It just didn’t resonate with me at all. I tried to determine why it didn’t appeal.  Many of the works were pictorial in nature, I am drawn to textures, lines and marks, more abstract designs.  I’m not particularly interested in history, which I understand is a very broad and perhaps ignorant statement.  I am interested in people, here and now.  I might look into the history of a craft or an artist, a plant or a recipe or have my interest piqued by reading or seeing a documentary, but it isn’t my passion.  I appreciate the  visual texture of printed text included in a piece of textile art, but not embroidered words.

I admired Kirsty Whitlock’s Losses 2009 which can be seen at the end of this article.  I felt it powerfully reflected the economic climate at the time, (a copy of the Financial Times disintegrating, hanging with threads).

A project called Spindle 7 in Spinning Stories: Participatory Art with Robyn Love made interesting reading.  The artist took a particular train over a period of months and engaged in conversation with strangers whilst spinning wool from a drop spindle and gave a lesson, wool and a spindle to those interested.

“The project was based on Robyn’s belief that spinning yarn is an activity found in almost every culture and that creating something would provide common ground between all the passengers who rode the subway together”.

The project attracted me as a means of sharing a skill.  I enjoy sharing practical skills with interested parties and hope to work in this way in future.  At the end of her project, ‘having taught many of her fellow travellers to spin’ she invited others to join her spinning on the train and said

“I see in people a kind of longing for something to make with their hands.  When people are given this opportunity, they are ready for it.  It is fulfilling in a way that so much of what else we do is not.”

Sharing skills to enrich someone’s life in a small way is very satisfying to me and I’m pleased to have encountered this project.

If you are interested in telling stories to document social history, personal memories, for remembrance, it’s a well presented, informative book.  If not, flick through it before deciding to borrow or buy.

Prain, L.(2014) Strange Material: Storytelling through Textiles. Vancouver: ArsenalPulp Press (pp 217 pp 247)



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