Durham Guilds first exhibition at this venue, and on the strength of that we were invited back to view the Museums collection again, as inspiration for this exhibition. Rather than take individual artefacts, this time we decided to choose the wider canvas of Eastern Journeys.
The items which were on display represented knitting, crochet, loom, rug and tapestry weaving, hooky, proggy, felt, kumihimo, patchwork, embroidery, sculpted paper and many aspects of dyeing, showing how innovative the textilers had been in exploring the chosen theme.
Who would have thought to surround bright little rectangles of weaving with frames from discarded film slides. The warps in between the woven parts had been left open but were decorated, embroidered and beaded. These dainty wall hangings attracted a lot of attention as did woven lengths of sumptuous red silk, fashioned into a jacket, a stole, and various small oriental objects.
Just to underline the diversity, another stole, quite different from the silk but equally stunning, had a design adapted from that on the Rameses III girdle. The main part was woven in plain cream lambswool, but the deep borders in natural dyes of greens, oranges and yellows authenticated the Egyptian design source.
The Guilds tartan expert had researched some woollen twill burial plaids found with mummies dating to 1200-700BC and had replicated exactly the light blue and shades of brown in the original articles.
Others journeys had taken the weavers and knitters to Istanbul, New Zealand, Mongolia and China. Colours and textures were reminiscent of sand and sea, of glazed tiles, of painted porcelain, of nomadic trappings, executed in woven rugs and tapestry, jewellery, knitting, crochet, felt and kumihimo braids.
Anothers was a more spiritual journey, pursuing Buddhisms Four Noble Truths. The woven hemp wall hanging in shades of green and blue, entitled Joy of Spring , interpreted Buddhas all is impermanent everything arises and passes away.
The illustrated folder, beautifully produced by a Guild member, told that the weaver of the framed, loom-woven tapestry of a Minka House had taken his inspiration from the one in the Bamboo Garden at Kew. A minka house is constructed from Bamboo, wood, mud-plaster and thatch and can be dismantled, transported to another site and rebuilt.
A childrens weaving workshop took place and the Association of Guilds National Week of Spinning, Weaving & Dyeing was celebrated during the run of this exhibition, with an Open Day when families came to try their hands at an assortment of textile skills.