One of the best things that has happened since I moved into my studio in West Kilbride, Craft Town Scotland, is making some fantastic friends with the other designers makers who also have studios.
Jane’s textile art concentrates on creating textile maps of both a geographical and geological nature of Scottish Islands, coasts, valleys, mountains and cross-sections using Harris Tweed and free motion embroidery.
On a pure geek level this caught my attention straight away as I studied Environmental Geoscience at Edinburgh University which involved 3 years of Geology. Seeing geological and topographical maps sewn with such precision and turned into textile art captivated me. When I got talking to Jane about it I realised that she is obsessed with Geology, something I never really managed to do whilst at Uni, and loves how the land has been shaped over billions of years to create the amazing landscape that Scotland has. Meeting another science geek is always great and we’ve been friends since.
I knew she was going to have a second exhibition of her work at Aberfeldy and I loaned her some of my old text books for some light reading. She then asked if it was possible for me to weave some cloth to be used in some of the pieces for her new exhibition. ‘Of course!’ I replied and then we started to discuss how it would work.
Jane had asked me to create cloth that would look like the black and white geological maps and symbols that would be used to create a cross-section of the Moine Thrust. Again, my inner geek was excited as I actually mapped this very geological structure whilst at Uni in the summer of 1996. It was my first residential field trip and it was great fun, although it was when I first started noticing that I did tend to look at the sky more than the rocks.
The first thing was to order yarn, so I got natural white and black shetland yarn from Jamiesons of Shetland as I wanted to use a truly Scottish yarn for this commission.
Then it was to the loom to create the patterns needed. Three of the patterns were fairly easy to create as they were simple lines and block patterns. The fourth was trickier as it involved squiggly lines with gaps in-between. It took a little bit of thought and I finally cracked it.
The Lewisian Gneiss was the tricky one but I love how it turned out in the end, especially the back of the fabric as it has a very squishy feel to it. The other cloths work really well and they had a clear contrast between each other so that they would work well in the final piece.
The cloth was then handed to Jane and she took the scissors to them to start creating her artwork.
I have to say, I have a lot of respect for the attention to detail she has and her exact cutting skills as it would have terrified me to get such exact small pieces.
Finally, all the pieces were ready, framed and hung at the gorgeous The Watermill Gallery in Aberfeldy. I travelled up for the opening with my husband, who studied at Edinburgh too and was better at Geology than me.
It was fantastic to see the final pieces all finished and to see how well it fitted in with the rest of the exhibition.
The Moine Thrust is a large work of textile art and was the main piece of the exhibition. It was stunning to see how Jane had turned my cloth into this geological cross-section. She also managed to use my cloth in a couple of other pieces, mixed with Harris Tweed. Again, the cutting and embroidery skills used to create these pieces is inspiring.
The opening was a great success and I’m delighted it has gone brilliantly for Jane has she has put so much hard work into the whole exhibition over the past few months and it’s been great fun working with this particular geological process.
The exhibition is on until 16th September 2015 so do go along if you’re near Aberfeldy.
This commission has made me think about you can never tell where your live will lead you. If you’d said to me 19 years ago that I would end up weaving cloth to be used as geological maps I would have laughed and questioned how many pints you had. But I am glad this is where my life has led and I do love being a weaver and working on such great commissions with other talented designers and friends.