"In April 2019 I completed the ‘Developing Skills and Creative Language in Tapestry Weaving’ course at West Dean. I had been an enthusiastic hobby weaver for a while and signed up to this two-year part-time course hoping it could equip me with the skills to give my weaving a more professional direction.
As the course ended, I was looking for opportunities to show my work within the tapestry community, therefore when applications opened for the Cordis Prize Tapestry Showcase, I knew I wanted to submit a piece. The Showcase is the little sister of the main Cordis Prize based in Edinburgh and was initiated to give emerging weavers a platform to exhibit their work. As I didn’t have a suitable piece ready, I would have to get weaving fast.
I was in the middle of a ‘tufting’ phase. It's a word that conjures up school macramé sessions with scratchy string, or deep mustard coloured carpets from the 70’s. It was a technique I’d inadvertently fallen into during the ‘experimental weaving’ module of the West Dean course.
I’d initially been apprehensive of being too experimental with my weaving as up to that point, tapestry for me was all about smooth beads standing in perfect alignment; each line sitting obediently alongside another; the melodic ease of wool wefts running gently through taut warps, a mesmeric building up of shapes and patterns; a rhythmic tok tok tok of the bobbin. But to my surprise, with knots and frays, tufts and twists, those days had been a delight of exploration. I soon found that ‘tufting’ could be used to enhance a design and my ideas for future work were beginning to be permeated by elements of it.
Inspiration comes from a variety of sources, but I’d recently been fascinated by naturally occurring patterns. When taken out of context, they can develop a new beauty all of their own. This idea became ‘First Impression’, my first partly tufted piece in vibrant hand-dyed red tones, which was accepted for the Heallreaf 3 exhibition in Summer 2019. With ‘Second Impression’, I expanded this idea further for the Showcase. It is a response to the seemingly mundane. Seen through a different lens, these random patterns that we often brush past are transformed and given a new sense of life, of emotion, of structure and colour.
With each tufting line being painstakingly laid in individually, it’s a time-consuming process, but by varying the widths or direction of weft marks, the textural changes result in a concentrated intensity of colour, bringing out further details in an image.
Making a piece become reality is one element of the process; believing it’s right to exhibit is a leap of faith. I believe, this is where the valuable community of weavers plays a part. Exploring, sharing and stepping out together is a unique opportunity and I for one, am grateful to my fellow alumni for their support.
Winning the Cordis Prize Showcase 2019 was the surprise happy ending to an amazing year of learning and exploring. It has encouraged me to keep weaving and to be open to other, more experimental approaches to tapestry."
View more of Bridget's work on her instagram: @bridgetlaneweaving