Tell us about yourself.
Hi Frankly. Well, where do I start? I guess I’ve always been creative, I used to watch my Opa paint but, when I was young I was really into fashion, I went for interviews at the big famous schools, I even spent some time at a fashion house in London recently, to get it out of my system but also to see if it really was what I wanted to do…it wasn’t. I still love fashion but I enjoy it from afar now. I’ve always had a goal and a clear vision of where I wanted to go; I just needed to let it run its course.
So I enrolled onto the foundation at the Chelsea school of art. It was really tough and made me really focus on what I wanted, which turned out to be textiles. When I finished the course I decided I wanted to get out of the city and go back to Somerset. I was accepted on to the Textile design course at Bath school of Art and I couldn’t believe my luck. It’s such a beautiful city, I couldn’t think of anywhere more wonderful to study. And that’s where I discovered woven textiles; I was so surprised that I didn’t really give it a proper chance until my final year and now it’s what I most love doing.
Tell us a bit about your work.
A lot of my inspiration comes from current fashion trends with yarns and colour. I’m totally in love with the raffia coats at Burberry at the moment. It’s made me think about using more substantial yarns so you can really gauge the pattern in the cloth.
Most of what I do is for the home. I create textile art; light boxes that are encased in the cloth that I weave, cushions, upholstery and lampshades. The pieces use materials like monofilament, Lurex and silk to create unusual bespoke works suitable as individual items or grouped together to create installations.
I tend to go for stripes in my work; I find it allows me to work with large colour palettes. Probably because I can never really make up my mind about which purple I like the most! But to be honest, I just work with what most excites me at that moment. I took a stand at TENT London in 2011 and I couldn’t stop thinking about shine! I’d used some in my degree show but I really wanted to vamp up my new pieces. I was fortunate enough to gain sponsorship from the Lurex Company. Without whom the work wouldn’t be anything like it turned out to be.
Tell us about your making process.
I’m based on a 16 shaft computerised George Wood loom, which I bought from Ptolemy Mann just after I graduated. She’s my hero! Her influence in the weaving world is incredible so I feel pretty privileged to be working on a loom that she started her career with. She bought it whilst studying at the Royal College; it wasn’t computerised until a few years later.
George is great, if not a bit of a monster! But I can work on really large pieces with as much ease as smaller ones. With 16 shafts I’m able to create complicated weaves but also remove the shafts I need for different structures. Like leno weave for instance would only require 4 or 8 shafts. These weave structures enable you to twist two or more warp threads around each other whilst weaving, creating an open yet stable cloth. I also use block formations; this structure is set up on the shafts to allow certain parts of the cloth to compact more than others. Giving a wave effect. I love fabrics with character and these are just two of many structures that can give me this.
Samples begin with photographs and sketches to determine colour and are then translated onto the loom and woven in a way that manipulates the warp to inspire final pieces.
These pieces include wall hangings where the works use hand dyed silks woven using a leno technique that twists the warp yarn enabling the piece to become transparent. Introducing light to a piece that can either be hung against a wall or window.
Other products include self-contained light boxes that are bound in similar woven cloths. These can form part of a lighting scheme or simply used as decorative items.
Table and pendant lampshades use silk, monofilament and linen warps.
Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time?
I like to think I’d have set up and be working out of my studio full time. It’s the dream for most designers isn’t it?
What are working on at the moment?
I moved into my studio in December and now I’m working on designs for New Designers: One Year On. I’m extremely excited. It’s a show dedicated to designers in their first year of business who show entrepreneurial flair and a strong body of work so it’s a nice complement at the same time. Along side this I hope to have a new ecommerce site up and running soon where I can start regularly creating and selling collections.
More of Annabel’s work can be seen on her website.