7 Strands Symposium • What happened on the Day

 Tuesday, 12 July 2011 saw the first 7 Strands Textile Symposium take place in the historic surroundings of Grimsby Minster. This was the first event of this kind I have organised and  participants traveled from as far and wide as Hastings, Heckmondwike, Hull, York and Lincoln to take part in the one day event.
During the morning International textile artist Tilleke Schwarz delivered a workshop entitled ‘Telling your own story’ . Everybody made a collage about their interests, likes, dislikes and life in general and then Tilleke invited them all to tell the others about their work. It was a great ice-breaker and some interesting tales were revealed.

 Then, after a break for coffee and delicious home baked cakes and scones courtesy of the Minster coffee shop which I can thoroughly recommend , it was time to practice Tilleke’s favourite stitch which is couching.
Couching is often overlooked in favour of more complicated techniques so it was fascinating to be reminded of the versatility of such a simple stitch. I have used the technique myself with difficult threads such as recycled stranded rope as well as finer threads to create varied results. Tilleke uses it for drawing and also for text .The couching threads may be either the same color as the laid threads or a contrasting color. When couching threads contrast with laid threads, patterns may also be worked in the couching stitches.
The feedback I received indicated that the workshop was thoroughly enjoyed. For me it was great to see simple activities like collage and hand stitched couching with fresh eyes. A real inspiration and I will definitely be using those techniques myself in the future.

The afternoon started with a talk by Lucy Brown , a conceptual artist from Brighton. Lucy practice is a complete contrast to Tilleke’s so the different styles gave some insight into the breadth of contemporary textiles in the 21st century. Lucy uses vintage and second hand, mainly women’s, clothing as the raw materials for her work and it was fascinating for me to hear about how she collects and stores these items in her studio as well as seeing the finished pieces of work. Her talk ‘Other People’s Clothes’  discussed the works presented in Seven Strands exhibition in context with her wider practice. The materials and the process alongside narratives around femaleness, re-invention and body absence and presence were also covered .http://www.axisweb.org/seCVPG.aspx?ARTISTID=5805

The final part of the afternoon session was an illustrated lecture by Tilleke Schwarz  ‘Making Sense out of the Non Sense’ . http://www.tillekeschwarz.com/ The lecture covered not only her own work but that of others that she finds inspiring . I was particularly interested to find out that she enjoys the work of Michael Raedecker , an artist I greatly admire myself .http://www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk/artists/michael_raedecker_about.htm
All in all I think the event was enjoyed by all who attended.

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