Katharine Swailes

Warp, weft, stitch, thread 2021

Construction and materials are central to

Swailes' practice; she creates finely handwoven intricate tapestries. The abstract works appear deceptively simple and minimal in construction; with an aesthetic coherence from carefully controlled formal visual qualities of tone, colour, pattern, surface and volume. Inspired by the experience of contemplating an ancient pre-Columbian textile, arrived at through the long meditative process of weaving, these works are imbued with millennia’s of hand weaving history; and are complex personal expressions. 

 

Shortlisted twice for the Cordis prize, firstly in 2016 for her work Crossing the Avenue, this work leading to the series Glyphs and Loops unique in its construction which involves two specifically developed supplementary weft systems worked over the handwoven linen canvases. 

The yarn that inspired these techniques originated in Japan and although discontinued Swailes managed to acquire a stock of the materials to investigate.


Swailes' re-working and re-imagining of the ancient and traditional and ancient craft of weaving into the contemporary context of developing a new and abstract personal

language in textiles. For Swailes, the dualities of Glyphs and Loops illustrate the process and concept of the creative path: the glyphs representing structure, and the loops emotion.

 

As artist and weaver I am looking at the idea of textiles as text, a tradition that reaches back millennia. I reference pre-Columbian textiles, when these cultures used such supplementary weft as a text. It comes from a culture when time and the concept of time was different: before the modern systems that we know today. I have deconstructed my process and reconstructed it, exploring the motion and focus of passing weft through warp. I have created no slits, nor visuals to follow, just the pattern of the weaving: the weaving is a meditative act through a repetition

of path both literally and conceptually.
 

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Katharine Swailes
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