Finding a Common Thread

Finding a Common ThreadThis was the name of a workshop at the University of Leeds on 5th May, part of a project about digital textile art and about curating and promoting community engagement with global multimedia artworks in a local context. Hosted by the School of Languages, Cultures & Societies, it sounded intriguing, but even as I arrived I was still trying to work out why I’d been invited. Read more on the Facebook page for the project.

The presentations were great. Chilean artist Guillermo Bert presented his Encoded Textiles project which links bar codes & QR codes with indigenous weaving methods. Alisa Prudnikova, reknowned curator from Ekaterinburg spoke mainly about her role as Artistic Director of the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The “netweaving” session that followed gave participants the opportunity to talk briefly about their projects or relevant interests, and I always grab an opportunity to talk about Shoddy. Discussing ideas for a potential engagement event or activity, a number of ideas that emerged tie in quite well with some of Shoddy’s themes. For example:

  • Textiles as a way of approaching challenging topics/histories both in the end results and in the space for conversation that the process of making them opens up
  • The importance of the communal, the participatory, the collaborative in textile work and art
  • Links between textiles and waterways (canals/shipping) – textile trade routes
  • Need to explore more local mill buildings as possible spaces.  Leeds has a lot of great venues that are linked to the history of textile industry in the city and they can be used creatively for possible future events.
  • The concept of textiles, weaving and digital connectivity may be a great way to celebrate the city’s diversity. Textile industry is central to Leeds identity and so is the recent focus on digital communications.
  • Textiles are not just about the end product or about the spaces where they were once made, but about people’s lives / their stories / oral history.

It may be that we can find a common thread, let’s see how this develops.

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