"It's all about the materials," said Baltic Gallery curator Laurence Sillars on Radio 4's 'Today' this morning, talking about the Turner Prize shortlisted artists' exhibition which opened there today. Well I thoroughly agree with you, sir.
Life wouldn't be worth living without contrasting textures, structures and rhythms. That's what inspires me to experiment with the yarns I make. Not that skeins of highly textured, richly-coloured yarns would win me the Turner Prize - I'm just past their prize-awaring age anyway! But given into the hands of shortlisted candidate Karla Black they might stand a chance... Maybe I should ask if she'd consider collaboration!
Cross-fertilisation is a wonderful thing. When I was little, sewing machines were for making clothes and furnishings. Now, by combining their technology with the artistic mind of the embroiderer, they've become broad brushes being weilded by deeply creative textile artists like Pauline Verrinder, and by groups like Out of the Fold, whose stitched and dyed textiles exhibition starts this Saturday at Cavern 4 in Bury St Edmunds.
Machine embroidery, fabric embellishment and the like have liberated the sewing machine from pure functionality and allowed it to soar to new creative heights. There's a similar flow afoot in the spinning world with growing numbers of small-scale art yarn producers like me, each putting our individual twist into what we do. And like the Turner Prize shortlisted artists, for us too it's "all about the materials".
We spinners live in an intensly tactile world. The varying textures of fleece from different sheep, the fluffy bits, hairy bits and curly bits each has to offer, let alone all the extras you can add, from sparkles and beads to silk, shells and driftwood, give the same limitless possibilities as artist's collage. There's no big sponsored prize for us, but we get by in our own way, with an appreciative pat on the back from fellow spinners, knitters, and the textile community. And I for one am satisfied with that.