Updated: May 16
It's taken a wee while, but here is the first in a series of Blog posts to talk about my recent Scottish Textiles residency with Applied Arts Scotland and The British Council's Architecture, Design & Fashion department, as part of their Crafting Futures Programme which supports the future of craft around the globe. It was honestly such an enriching experience which I'm excited to tell you about!
Pilar and Dal heading onto the ferry to Lewis.
It was with some trepidation that I approached the restaurant in Inverness where I was due to meet my collaborators and women that I was going to spend the next week of my life living and working with!
Although I sometimes work alongside others, my work as a textile maker is normally a solo endeavour. I had never collaborated on a project like this within my making practice before, (and I’m naturally introverted so don’t find it easy to small talk and meet new people.) However, I applied for the residency for these very reasons – to push my practice and myself; to discover.
My work focusses mainly on printed textiles. I’m heavily inspired by landscape and the natural environment of my home in Aberdeenshire. I love to be outdoors in the wilder spaces and observing the details, shapes, textures and colours that sit within these places. The fact that the residency was in Braemar (which I consider familiar and my home area) and Lewis (which I love for it’s contrasting landscape) filled me with excitement and was certainly another element of applying for the residency.
The knowledge that I was about to have a whole week away from my busy home life, just focussed on textiles and my practice of making was so exciting, certainly enough to outweigh any trepidation.
The following day, and the first formal day of the residency, we met and travelled to Ness to get properly introduced to our fellow collaborators.
The range of disciplines across us was fascinating to see, as were the immediate parallels in our working practices and interests.
Myself and the wonderful Kate Davies represent the Scottish contingent of the residency. Kate specialises in hand knit design, interrogates what traditional design might look like and has a deep interest in the cultural influences within knit. I was fascinated as she spoke of locality, how one’s identity can be expressed through knitwear and what stories and narratives can be told about where we come from through a knitted item or garment.
Kate’s collaborative partner is Pilar based in Mexico City. Pilar is a shoe and accessory designer and design curator. Her interests in stitching into her materials of leather and cotton canvas, and utilisation of Shibori techniques were of immediate interest to me.
Next came my two collaborative partners, Soledad and Dalila, both based in Oaxaca. Sol introduced her weaving expertise. Working with naturally dyed wools to create smaller woven items up to rugs. I have a strong interest in natural dyes, but it’s not something I’ve brought into my commercial practice too much so far, so it was interesting to see how Sol and her weaving collective work with the natural dyes of Oaxaca – Indigo and Cochineal.
Dalila, as a materials designer, is interested in developing the use of natural pigments and materials to create products. To hear of her use of natural and waste materials like fish scales, sugar cane waste and leather waste to be re-created as paper and ceramics was inspiring.
Our Introduction Session at Lews Castle College. Me chatting to Dal, at the table with Pilar, Sol and Daniella - our lovely translator.
During the talks and introductions, and despite language differences, we seemed to immediately felt at ease with one another, born out of genuine respect and interest in one another’s making practices and expertise. It’s a truly wonderful thing to share time with others who are not only extremely talented, but equally thoughtful, intelligent, passionate and interested in textiles with no competition, no comparison, and no expectations beyond learning and developing their practice. And this was just the beginning!