The Farfield Residency (11:14)

I’m beginning to make some progress with this woven piece and I’m hoping I might complete half of it by Saturday. The kenaf (hemp) that I unwisely used as part of the warp has had a few breakages, but otherwise everything is going to plan. I’ve never woven anything this wide before so I’ve had to learn how to throw the shuttle. This is quite an art and I’m slowly getting the hang of it! Lack of time is beginning to dictate certain aspects of the design I had in mind. I think it’s better to focus on getting a relatively straightforward play of colour than attempting too intricate patterns and effects.

Weaving the Garden

Weaving the Garden

Today I received my first commission as a weaver, a long winter scarf based on the swatches I submitted for the Conceal and Reveal project at Bradford last May. I was really taken aback when this very well spoken lady appeared and enthused about the design and the feel of the yarns (faux chenille from the cheap basket in my local craft shop). I didn’t have the heart to say anything except I might have trouble getting hold of something similar.

Etude Vingt-Quatre - Matteo Carcalli

Etude Vingt-Quatre - Matteo Carcassi

Most of my time and energy has had to be focused on preparing this solo recital I’m giving here at Farfield on Saturday. I’m playing Matteo Carcassi’s Etudes Melodiques – complete. This is a set of 24 studies that every student classical guitarist plays, or rather plays the first 6 studies. After that they get decidedly tricky, and, as far as I know, I’m the only guitarist in the world who plays all of them! They are distinctly charming, with echoes of the Preludes of Chopin. The problem with playing this work is pacing the performance – it’s quite a lot to listen to (around 50 minutes). So I try to split the studies up into groups of between four and six. Several years ago I discovered that Hector Berlioz had his own copy of these Etudes and certainly, by the fingerings marked, played them. His copy resides in a private library in California. Frederic Chopin heard Carcassi play hem in Paris and is said to have admired them.

I’ve started to pull together a resume display of the residency. This will include lots of photographs, comments, sketches and design illustrations, some of the music I’ve written, and of course the blogs – generally some evidence! Alice has just sent me some valuable photos of me working with visitors on the handloom on Level 4 that carries the invitation to ‘have a go’. She tells me she’s making some progress at home with the piece on her rigid heddle loom that she started here last week.

Susan & Meg @ Mount Cottage 2008

Susan & Meg @ Mount Cottage 2008

I’m beginning to turn my thoughts to packing up and preparing to travel to North Wales. My wife Susan is battling against bad weather for the third year in succession – although the sun has appeared briefly. Yesterday she managed to break the axle on our trailer bringing barrels of water up to our waterless cottage – the well, despite all the rain, has dried up. That said, she sounded quite cheerful – perhaps she’s got a good crime thriller on the go (her holiday pleasure).  Meg is still chilling I think – waiting for me to arrive (on Sunday or Monday) to organise some expeditions to our favourite places. I’m hoping to read a few books . . . and gaze at the sea and sky.

River Clough from the 'balcony'

River Clough looking West from the 'balcony'

Before a picnic tea at the studio I allowed myself some time to draw. I’m captivated by the view up and down the River Clough from the ‘balcony’ on the top floor of the Mill. The constant sound and movement of the river as it wends its way between the rocks is so fascinating and absorbing. My picture doesn’t begin to capture this, but I enjoyed doing it. About six this morning the light and clarity of the views beyond of the river were breathtaking. My photo hardly does it justice.

Looking East up the River Clough

Looking East up the River Clough

I’ve had lots of visitors during the day and I’m now rather sorry I haven’t kept a visitors’ book. Must do this in (future) residencies. I do scribble down names when I can, but I should do this properly. The process of weaving does seem to intrigue people. It is clearly, to some, a great mystery (it was to me once), and the complexity of it surprises visitors for whom this may be the first occasion they’ve got that close to a loom.

Visitors try the handloom

Visitors try the handloom

On level 4 at the Mill there’s a small bookshop, and I found just browsing a rather special book published in the 1980s. It’s called The Craft of Weaving written by Ann Sutton, Geraldine St Aubyn Hubbard and Peter Collingwood. It is the book of a BBC TV series no less . . . and it is brilliant! Highly recommended, but I imagine (by its price) it is rather rare. I ‘borrowed’ it for some bedtime reading . . . I certainly can’t afford it, sadly

The Craft of the Weaver

The Craft of the Weaver


2 Responses to “The Farfield Residency (11:14)”

  1. Dot Says:

    Here’s a copy of The Craft of the Weaver that you can afford if you get there in time:

    Otherwise there are copies on at £3.99 and £4.25.

    I got a copy myself for £7 when it came up at The Loom Exchange.

    I hope the concert goes well tomorrow.

  2. Dot Says:

    Just to add that Uppingham yarns had a good selection of rayon chenille last autumn, it’s worth giving them a ring as they are good about sending out samples and have more in stock than the web site shows.

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