We were very intrigued to hear from artist, weaver and lace maker Hannah Robson this afternoon at Harrogate Creative Stitchers. We were also very glad the talk went ahead at all, as we had a last minute change of venue due to unforeseen circumstances and thankfully our local library was able to accommodate us!
Very few of us in the group have experience in weaving or lace making, but in any case, Hannah’s work is at the cutting edge of contemporary weaving. She combines a range of technologies and materials to create two and three dimensional sculptures, installations and cloth, pushing the boundaries of what we might consider to be fabric. Hannah is inspired by the spatial qualities of textiles, its transparency and form, and how light reflects and filters through the material. Her considerable training and knowledge in weaving combined with her mathematical thinking allow Hannah to combine complex techniques and technologies into some amazing sculptural weaves which she was able to share with us today.
Hannah’s talk began with her speaking about her MA at the Royal College of Art which started with a fascination of windows. She created paper cuts and a collection of semi-transparent textiles in blue and gold, working in three dimensions and playing with light, shadow, transparency and diagonals. She drew on her previous experience of working in different ways of construction in cloth and textiles when in Germany and was able to take this new angle and incorporate it back into hand weaving.
enjoys lace making where she is able to go free-form and explore three
dimensions unlike loom weaving. She
passed around a lace technique sample made from copper wire (above). Her final MA pieces entitled ‘Seeking Form’
used traditional textural processes with unconventional materials combining lacing
and weave and are very sculptural. One
of the pieces involved a very large loom and a stainless steel warp resulting
in a 150 x 150 x 150 cm three dimensional sculpture, the largest Hannah has
made to date!
In 2019 at
the Huguenot Museum and Rochester Art Gallery, Hannah was asked to create
pieces for a solo show, Bizarre & Curious Silks, a project tracing the influence of Huguenot
silk weaving in Britain. She studied textile archives and Spitalfields silk weavers
and worked with David Walters Fabrics to develop three jacquard fabrics based
on her research.
Another body of work called 'Seeking Silence' was commissioned by Aesop skincare for a product launch. Hannah had to produce a collection of textiles representing words such as soothed, smooth, dryness and itchiness, giving her the opportunity to create some very textural work of which she was able to show a sample.
Covid, Hannah went back to the loom and started to explore ideas about
connection and intersection in a piece called 'Depending'. Woven as one continuous piece, two and a half metres long, thousands of lines of
thread join, intersect and hang from each other in an articulated sculpture
made of a nylon warp and copper wefts.
Hannah says she was able to complete the piece by doing little and
often, where 5cm would be considered a good day!
piece of work commissioned by Sunny Bank Mills in 2021, gave Hannah the opportunity
to explore further structures that could be created by woven paper forms. The work named ‘Furrow’ resulted in a large
scale 2m tall woven sculpture. Hannah
brought some smaller 'Paper Forms' of similar structures to show us.
Finally, the Jacquard
Project, an Arts Council funded project, saw the revival of a unused jacquard loom
at Bradford College, where Hannah is a lecturer in woven textile design. This involved servicing and fixing the machine
with help from weavers who once served their apprenticeships in Bradford. Once up and running, the loom was used to
produce woven pieces in collaboration with four other artists from varied
disciplines. This allowed Hannah to
extend her practise and share skills, resources and explore new ideas. The Jacquard Project was shown Sunny Bank
Mills in March 2023.
We were so
fascinated by Hannah’s talk and her contemporary sculptural weaves. They have a simple and transparent beauty
about them but are also mind boggling and complex! She is certainly an incredibly talented
artist, pushing the boundaries of weaving and textiles and we were very fortunate
to have her speak to us today.