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International art textile exhibitions, conference and networking opportunity (ETN and Kaunas Biennial) September 2011

I´ve just come back from the European Textile Network conference and Kaunas Textile Biennial and the textilesnaturales textile blog is officially “on holiday” … but I just cannot help but post some images up.  I´ll be blogging more about my impressions later on in October and November, but let me just say it was a full-on 4 days with exhibition openings, courses, talks and networking presentations to let you know what is coming up in 2012, 2013 and further ahead, in countries around the world.  For anyone involved in textile art (and to a lesser extent design, fashion or contemporary craft) and anyone who, like me, specialises in loom-woven textiles, the conference and bienial was a really special opportunity.

Reiko Sudo exhibition 2011

Exhibition of Nuno Textiles at Kaunas (Lithuania) 2011

reiko sudo of Nuno Textiles (Japan) with Anna Champeney (AC Estudio Textil)at Kaunas Biennial 2011One of the highlights, for me, was meeting and talking with Reiko Sudo of Nuno (the innovative textile design company run by Reiko – and a particular favourite of mine!), with the opportunity to learn rust dyeing with her in her course entitled “Rust never sleeps”.  Such a simple, yet effective technique, with lots of possibilities to explore.  Reiko had a solo exhibition with a number of her fabulous fabrics on display, as well as samples to touch and a display of some of the ways in which Nuno fabrics start out – collage, paper models and drawing.

There were numerous other group exhibitions in various museums and galleries around Kaunas.  In the four days I was there there was hardly a minute to digest so much new information, and get to know other conference delegates more.  But I know I have made new friends there and have been immensely enriched as a result.   Perhaps the only thing that I felt was really missing from the event was the organisation of discussion groups, perhaps on themes, which would have encouraged active debate and participation and act as a conduit for and catalyst for new initiatives and ideas.  Such groups would also have been a valuable opportunity for newcomers to the ETN conference to really get to know other delegates better, although I found the conference atmosphere to be generally very friendly, and most people very open.

Bojagi & Beyond book by Chunghie Lee

New book on Korean Bojagi textiles by artist and educator Chunghie Lee

It was also a pleasure to meet and talk with Korean textile artist Chunghie Lee and get hold of her new book, Bojagi and Beyond (ISBN978-0-9830029-0-1).  As one of my main research interests is traditional peasant textiles of Galicia, north Spain, and their development and use in contemporary textile design and art, it was fascinating to learn about the traditional Korean textile technique of Bojagi (similar, but different to patchwork) and the way that Chunghie has taken this and made it known worldwide.   In the preface to her book Chunghie talks about the “thousands of nameless ancestral women” making the bojagi textiles “stitched by their hands and from their hearts”.  There is something essential and refreshing about these traditional textile techniques – and contemporary works inspired by them – which sometimes seems to be missing from some contemporary art textiles.

Ainsley Hillard.  Traces.  2008

Traces by Ainsley Hillard (Wales). 2008.

But it was good to see some of the work by contemporary textile artists such as Ainsley Hillard – whose work I have only seen online or in publications up until now (you don´t find many contemporary international textile exhibitions in north Spain these days!) who does seem to be able to capture the ghosts of the past – of both people and places – in her subtle textile installations.

Jacquard loom weaving, unsurprisingly, had a very strong presence in the conference and exhibitions – as a future face of contemporary textile art and cutting edge industrial textile design, and with huge potential for arquitectural applications.  Vibeke Vestby gave an exciting presentation about her work in the development of the TC2, a new design of computer Jacquard available for the first time, commercially, later in 2011.  I wish I could show here the images of the wonderful upholstery produced using the new TC2 that she presented in her lecture.  Jacquard weaving is often used to translate – or incorporate – photographic images into woven cloth – Lia Cook (USA) is a leading artist in this field and her work was on display in one of the exhibitions – but it has other applications which are equally exciting.   As a hand-weaver, limited to my eight shaft countermarch loom, the idea of a Jacquard loom which enables you to lift up a different combination of warp ends in every pick seems truly liberating.  But then again, technical limitation in weaving is something that every weaver comes up against, whatever tool is being used, and limitations represent catalysts for creativity.  Jacquard weaving is not a possibility for every weaver, for reasons of cost, access to markets or geographical location.  Living in a rural area of Spain, however much I feel attracted to the idea of complex weaves possible on a Jacquard, I don´t feel it is technology that I can easily adapt to at the moment.  But thanks to the conference I feel I will definitely pay more attention to Jacquard weaving in future.

Special thanks go to Beatrizs Sterk, of ETN, who organised the conference; a huge amount of work and, which I, like most others, cannot adequately appreciate, acknowledge or thank.

We´re having a break but will be back at the end of October!

Yes, that´s right, both the textilesnaturales textile blog and online shop are having a break until the end of October

when we´ll provide an exciting update and roundup.

Please note we are unable to process orders from the textilesnaturales online shop until the end of October although you place your order or reserve the holiday cottage (Casa dos Artesans) here.


Ismini Samanidou (Photo: Toril Brancher 2010) is just one of the international textile artists at the ETN conference

20 – 25 September 2011 – International textile conference in Lithuania.   Almost 100 textile artists, weavers, designers, tutors and lecturers from all over the world will meet at Kaunas for the ETN (European Textile Network) conference, courses, textile visits and networking sessions.   A wonderful opportunity to get to know colleagues from Japan, Holland, Spain, Italy, the UK, and the Americas and just immerse oneself in textile culture.

International basketry fair in Salt, Gerona (1st weekend in October, annually)

Lluis is currently very busy making stock for the basketry fair in Salt, Gerona.  Come to see us at our stand – Lluis has a selection of pelapatatas (the unusual double potato peeling baskets of Catalunya) baskets as well as shoppers, viguetanas (traditional, rare Catalan shopping basket) and other uncommon traditional baskets of Catalunya.

natural dyes at anna champeney estudio textil

A natural dyeing project was a core project when Tracey Jarvis (UK) spent 3 weeks as the textile studio´s assistant. What will Maria and Adele be working on? We´ll keep you posted.

In November Anna Champeney Estudio Textil has a busy month, as textile assistants Maria Guerreiro and Adele Orcajada spend 3 weeks at the studio, learning and assisting in the day-to-day work.  Join us to hear about their experiences.

Holidays with a difference in north Spain: Weaving, basketry and natural dyeing at Casa dos Artesans holiday cottage with Anna Champeney, textile weaver, and Lluis Grau, basketmaker

Latest photos – Summer weaving, natural dyeing and basketry courses with Anna Champeney and Lluis Grau in Galicia, Spain

Here you can see enjoy a selection of photos showing work made by pupils at AC Textile Studio.  Courses this summer included traditional Spanish pile fabric weaving (“Galician felpa”) for beginners, natural dyeing and Spanish basketry with willow and split wood.   Don´t forget that you can always enjoy one-to-one tution with us when you come on holiday and stay at Casa dos Artesans, our holiday cottage situated in the idyllic village of Cristosende, overlooking the River Sil Canyon, in north Spain.  Holiday breaks with us offer you a chance to unwind, develop your creativity and really disconnect to your busy lives – and surrounded by stunning scenery where you can often walk without meeting anyone else.  Craft is an activity which engages your body, spirit and mind, helping you to relax and at the same time learning something new.  We have a few dates left for September, are almost fully booked for October and November, and are now taking bookings for Spring – Summer 2012 from April onwards.

carmen delgado con diseño felpa gloria cabots design Carmen Ondina felpa adele orcajada diseño textil coffee break in Anna Champeney Estudio Textil course room at Anna Champeney Estudio Textil

Above:  Traditional Galician Spanish textile weaving with Anna Champeney.  During the 5-day course pupils learned the back-to-front warping method for preparing Louet looms with a linen warp and then designed and wove their own piece of loop-pile fabric – felpa.  Inspiration for the designs included American patchwork quilts from Gees Bend, Galician rag felpa coverlets and simple geometric shapes.  During the course pupils used the natural-dyed wools now available online from AC Textile Studio in a range of colours including cochineal (pinks, reds, purples) and yellows (dyers´ chamomile, weld)…  You can book either a 2- or 5-day felpa course with expert guidance by Anna Champeney, as part of a craft-based holiday in north Spain at Casa dos Artesans holiday cottage.

yago y mauro

Above:  Galician Spanish basketry course with Lluis Grau.   You can learn to make this willow and split wood basket in a day of one-to-one tuition, whether or not you have previous basketry experience.

curso tintes naturales Anna Champeney Estudio Textil regina con madejas de cochinilla muestrarios

Above:  An intensive 2-day course introduced pupils to many of the basic principles of natural dyeing.  5 natural dyes were tested out including the fabulous cochineal from Lanzarote, logwood, oak bark, alder buckthorn bark and onion skins.  All pupils took a comprehensive set of samples with them, complete with the recipes to repeat the colours.  We  can offer our guests one-to-one tuition in natural dyeing which starts at 90€ for a short course.

International Textile Conference in Kaunas, Lithuania (September 2011)

Anna Champeney will be taking time out of her busy schedule at AC Estudio Textil to travel to Kaunas in Lithuania for the international European Textile Network conference this autumn.   Instead of teaching, however, she will be a pupil on the specialist dyeing course with the internationally renowned textile designer and founder of the innovative textile company in Japan, Nuno Corporation – Reiko Sudo.  If you are going to the conference this year Anna will be delighted to hear from you if so do make contact!

Basketry Fair in Salt, Gerona (Catalunya, Spain), first weekend in October 2011

Come and see us in the international basketry fair in Salt, Gerona.  We have a stand, as we do every year, at this fun and friendly fair where you can see and buy baskets from Spain and other European countries.  There is also a programme of local music, dancing, and gastronomy.   If there is a Spanish basket you particularly like, then commission Lluis now and we can bring the basket along to you at Salt.

Galician “piteira” -This traditional chicken nesting basket from north Spain makes an unusual and very snug cat basket

piteira comfy door Cat testing out traditional Spanish basket

Above:  “Pele” investigates the north Spanish Galician piteira basket and gives it the stamp of approval!

Lluis Grau, basketmaker, specialises in Spanish basketry forms from the north of Spain and his latest – and very unusual – basket is the piteira or Galician chicken nesting basket.  You can order the basket and it can be sent by post (be prepared for a big package to arrive as the basket measures about 65cm H x 55cm W- or you can come for some one-to-one basketry tuition with Lluis and make a piteira yourself on holiday.  the cost of the basket varies according to its size but an average size would cost 125€ + postage.  We can´t absolutely guarantee your cat or dog will like the basket but we think there is a good chance that he/she will because our cats love it – it took them just 30 seconds to sniff it out and settle in for a first snooze.  We call the piteira their “cat palace” – it´s too grand to be called a simple “cat basket”.  We think it would be the perfect basket for a cat with kittens as the mother cat is bound to feel more secure in this enclosed basket with a door, that gives her a sense of privacy and protection.    The piteira was never made in north Spain for cats, however, but for chickens.  It is one of the traditional forms which is now in danger of extinction, and part of our work is to promote a better understanding and appreciation of these wonderful, little known traditional baskets.