Cloth, Creativity & Collaborating: Connected Cloth

Exploration of the Relationship with Textiles as a Collaborative Medium

Sharing Ideas, Exchanging Skills and Techniques, Exhibiting and Curating Partnerships

Cas Holmes & Anne Kelly

Cas Holmes & Anne Kelly Cranbrook Exhibition: Left to Right Norfolk Weeds (4 panels), Domestic Mapping (5 panels) and Garden Paths (3 panels)

The focus for textile artists Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly is to produce a guide for textile artists on working collaboratively, sharing ideas, setting up supportive groups to help sustain creative practice through working and exhibiting together. Connected Cloth-Creating Collaborative Textile Projects acts as a sourcebook to help generate many sources on how to connect with other artists to increasingly develop and sustain creative practice beyond the personal. Reflecting upon the relationship with cloth it is both personal and intimate and shared beyond such confines to communicate relevant narratives globally. (Holmes & Kelly 2013)

Anne Kelly Cuttings (left) and Cas Holmes Tea-Flora-Tales (right) Urban Nature, Festival of Quilts at the Knitting and Stitching Show Alexandra Palace. 2012

The significance of cloth is commonly examined for textile artists, as I have explored my own relationship with cloth, its meaning and relevance for me and others. Of my family’s connection with cloth through home and mill working with linen (and wool), of the significance for me of environmental sustainability and no waste through reuse, reclaiming and repurposing with intuitive relating with the materials. With its associated connotations with comfort and soothing coupled with repair and mending especially through stitch I am currently exploring the use of stitch with print to communicate visual representations and processes of mental distress and recovery.

Cas Holmes & Anne Kelly Domestic Mapping Detail of panels which were shown in Maidstone Library Gallery

Through ‘Resonant Textiles’ I have increasingly reflected upon the opportunities to work beyond isolation, to join artists’ communities like Wasps, to be part of a wider sharing environment which exchanges ideas, information, resources and to exhibit regularly as part of a group. In doing so there are greater possibilities to be challenged to maintain continuing development and relevance. Within creative practice the ideas behind the creative process and work need to fit to be conducive so working with others requires collaboration concerning shared themes and ideas alongside acknowledging and respecting differences, which is vital when working with other perspectives. I liked the shared processes which were discussed, of domestic scenes, of research, drawing and recording, of frequent gallery visits for further inspiration through information gathering. The studio/workspace needs to connect with my practice so I use another textile artist’s print studio within the Wasps Artist studio complex in Glasgow which has helped my creative process to develop.

“Foliated Calligraphy 1” is one of the works comprising Leaf Impressions, fabric collages by Bethesda artist Dominie Nash which was on view at Adkins Arboretum, Ridgely.

I also have allocated workspace within my home which gives me the necessary room to be creative. Shared approaches require mutual connections which are realised for Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly through a love of the natural world and their respective interaction within it. Both are attracted to and identify with the narrative and historical qualities of domestic materials and found objects as a creative resource which both use in new contexts. (Holmes & Kelly 2013, p.27).

Anne Kelly Domestic Mapping. Embroidered Cloths. First showing of all eight panels at Maidstone Library Gallery.

While Anne Kelly  is an avid collector of vintage fabric, paper and related materials using collage, stitch with photographic and print processes Cas Holmes works on themes and ideas to develop a range of approaches. Both however initially focus upon observation and discussion whereby the themes and sequences develop through experiencing. Cas Holmes works from observations and memories, of being influenced by wabi-sabi, of value being found through imperfection, impermanence, and incompletion, of using fragments of domestic textiles, old books, discarded materials and objects with personal associations to work with.

Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly Seed Bird Map on show at Maidstone Library Gallery. Joint Installation work

Anne Kelly also uses remanent pieces of cloth to construct collage elements which are further developed into larger scale works. I also focus upon reclaiming what has already been used to fully utilise and showcase the properties and qualities of the cloth including wear and repair through print, weave and stitch, to integrate within the preferred narrative as with vintage linen bedsheets. The old domestic cloth directly links to women and the home. I too like to alter the surface of the cloth through the marks made through printing and stitch. As documented within Connected Cloth collage with print works particularly well for creative sharing with mixed media textiles, to share resources, using similar materials differently including the use of photgraphic imagery, transfers, stencilling, stitch as a mark making tool as well as print techniques.

Janet Twinn (2009) Touch Wood-Cross Section Quilt Art which was inspired by the Autumn Landscapes and Seasonal Cycles

For me what was particularly helpful was the practical suggestions for hanging textiles, of the need to consider colour schemes, format, scale, creative process, types of found materials, suitability of the exhibition space and methods required for hanging the work. Throughout my own initial reflections concerning my current creative process I have had to focus upon the exhibition space given the increased scale of my work as there are few spaces available within Central Scotland that can show larger scale textiles especially if wall hung and free hanging from the ceiling. Connected Cloth has helped me to start to consider a range of possible options, of creating installations to walk around and through. Cas Holmes and Anne Kelly use a variety of framing methods and ways to present their work within exhibition spaces. As stated I prefer larger pieces to be unframed as they look more dramatic and less constrained. That said a range of backing cloths, supports and hanging devices have been suggested for me to consider further. The creative work and the environment will inform how the eventual large pieces of vintage linen will be hung alongside continuing research processes and how the creative work develops especially considering the print work, wear and recovery through stitching.

Cas Holmes & Anne Kelly (2013) Connected Cloth-Creating Collaborative Textile Projects, Batsford.

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