Kate Whitehead - It’s a ride I feel privileged and very grateful to have been able to take
Like many textile artists, I work alone. Sometimes that can feel quite isolating; sometimes I feel like I’m losing my way. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Hothouse programme, but I have to say that for me, the experience of mixing with other makers and taking part in different sessions has been an inspiration.
Defining your values, delivered by Claire Norcross and Emilie Taylor, gave me the space to get really clear what it is that motivates me; why I do what I do; and why I do it how I do it. A key element of my practice is that I work at a measured pace. I can spend ages on each piece, going to whatever lengths are necessary to produce work I’m proud of. I already knew this - but now I value it as a cornerstone of what I do, rather than beating myself up for not producing enough pieces.
Similarly, for me it’s imperative to produce work that’s entirely handmade in the UK, and to reuse fabric that’s been thrown away. Again, I knew this – but it’s good to have identified this as something central to what I do…something worth shouting about, even.
Mark Sinker’s Putting the tyger back in the forest session helped me rewrite my artist statement, and that has already had a huge impact on my ability to get out there and promote myself.
ARTIST'S STATEMENT SESSION
Explaining my practice to other people has always been my idea of hell. It took me a long time to nail my statement; getting it right involves really pinning down what makes you tick as a maker. Now I have a firm basis from which to express what I do, both in the written form and verbally.
These sessions have given me confidence. They’ve helped me define my identity as an artist. Hothouse has been an emotional rollercoaster at times - but all in all, it’s a ride I feel privileged and very grateful to have been able to take.
One of the reasons for my recent French trip was I wanted to re visit The Cité internationale de la tapisserie. My first trip there was with my students two years ago, when I taught natural dyeing and hand weave for a week at www.craftyretreats.com in Limoges.
The Cité internationale de la tapisserie opened in summer 2016 in Aubusson (Creuse, France). The building of the former National School of Decorative Art in Aubusson has been entirely rehabilitated by Terreneuve architecture studio (Paris). The main objective of this new institution is to make visitors discover an age-old craftsmanship: Aubusson carpets and tapestries. In this tapestry museum, the heritage collections are presented in a brandnew and immersive exhibit. More than just a museum, the Cité de la tapisserie is a place of artistic creation, training and supporting the tapestry economic sector, which still remains complete and preserved within the territory of Aubusson and South Creuse after six centuries of existence.
Back to creating, making and organising my practice after a month off. I have driven three thousand miles through France to Amsterdam collecting treasure, exploring, researching textiles and visiting friends.
The two main areas of my practice I am working on at the moment are a collection to sit next to a previous body of work 'Not From The Stork' to be exhibited in the Textile Galleries at the Knit & Stitch shows in London, Dublin and Harrogate this year and a new collaboration with @Trouble_at_mill design house and independent fashion store. A collaboration inspired by slow fashion principles to recreate beautiful handmade clothing, garments to be worn and hung available to buy and made on the premises. Visit the Shop and studio @ Beech Road, Chorlton, Manchester M21 9HT
Back to it, grateful to be able to get stuck in to my textile practice, creating a new body of work to sit alongside 'Not From The Stork' collection. I look forward to exhibiting in the curated textile galleries @ The Knitting & Stitching Shows 2019 Alexandra Palace London 10th -13th October Dublin 7th-10th November Harrogate November 28th-1st December