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Mapping out a Windy Weekend

Entering year two of Aural Textiles, and I’m very excited to be working on a long distance collaboration! Partnering up with Netty, we’ve initially been communicating online, bouncing ideas and pictures around via email and whatsapp (for when those spontaneous thoughts pop up!). Netty being based on the Isle of Lewis, and myself being in Glasgow naturally puts up a distance barrier. Despite having a google drive, wifi and many apps to communicate, nothing beats first hand communication so I decided to head north and visit. The aim of the visit was to decide on a few of our ideas, to be able to get stuck in independently, in wake of the next AT meet up in early September.

Prior to my visit, we shared things we were looking to learn / would like to develop creatively. Some of these points were things I could see I’d learn from Netty and her practice, and others I’d always wanted to know more about, but just hadn’t got round to it. Sometimes, when you do things with other people, they get realised a little easier! We bullet pointed very broad creative things we’d like to learn and share within our practice, the initial ones being:

– Embroidery

– Garment construction / pattern cutting

– Sustainable practice (within dye use, material sourcing and garment construction)

– Mark making

We revisited one another’s work, to familiarise ourselves with our practices: to think how we could balance the technical side of cross-disciplinary collaboration with our conceptual interests. Finding that we have both strong interests in landscape related influences, this became our common ground. I have a love for the west coast, and given the amazing landscape and location of our meet-up on Lewis, the Island would have to take part in our inspiration some how!

We took Netty’s past project as a start point. In this project, Netty plotted locations of shipping forecasts recorded off of Lewis, and turned this plot into a textile print. We decided to extend this theme, taking the winds of Lewis as inspiration for our sound recordings and spectrograms. We hope to combine a system of plotting with spectrogram data – but this will all unfold in due course! This focus on working with data will be a lovely way to expand my approach to creative practice, which is focused on emotional responses to locations within both painting and textiles.

Luckily enough, we weren’t short of wind to record on our visit! Arriving on the first day of the larger winds of the year, we sailed into Stornoway at the beginning of a storm. Having been told previously that it’d be a wee bit windy on the island, I set off to cycle up to Netty’s home by bike. Turns out, an island wind is not a mainland wee bit of wind! After a very wiggly wind swept bike ride (even cycling downhill!!) and a rescue by a lovely old man from the 30mph winds, I’d definitely experienced what was to influence us! We spent two days exploring the amazing coast-line gathering recordings from the moors, beaches and cliffs.

I suspect other elements of the island will come in to influence our project – the colours and wide sweeping spaces are too beautiful to ignore. One theme that we plan to develop is the idea of silence. Standing on the open moorland, Lewis stretches out as low rolling hills. Beyond that is a huge open expanse of sea and horizon. Apart from the roaring wind in your ears, the island is both visually and aurally quite quiet. Even the wind seems to turn to white noise after a while. This idea of silence relates back to the spectrograms – we’ll be looking at the negative space in the spectrograms – the background noise or silence as inspiration. I’m keen to develop a quiet collection of fabrics – branching away from a many layered ‘more is more’ approach, and create in a paired back way.

Now, we are in the process of reflecting and making from our decided themes. Come our next meet in September, we will have a chance to swap and share our progress, and define the next steps towards making and skills sharing!

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