A couple of weeks ago we went to St. Gaudens, in the camper, for a few days. Various people have found this a strange choice of destination and admittedly it’s not the prettiest of towns as, whereas its geography is similar to that of Pau, where the “Promenade des Anglais” has breathtaking views of the Pyrenees, the foreground to the view in St. Gaudens is a big, ugly quarry. There are some interesting parts, though, if you look hard enough, such as the old cloisters with computerised fountains. Hardly the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but pretty nonetheless. The town also seems to have more than its fair share of eccentrics and oddities wandering around the town centre, accosting the clients of the bars and restaurants, before being chased off by the proprietors. However, it does have a good selection of restaurants, a lovely market, a good camping car site and access to some very quiet roads, with enough cols to keep even Nick happy.
We noticed a signpost to the chapelle de St. Jacques, no longer a church, but a centre for contemporary art; a pleasant way to pass some of the afternoon we thought. We weren’t impressed with the exhibition, but there were some women outside the front door doing weaving, something I’ve been wanting to try my hand at for quite some time. It transpired that they had an artist in residence for a month, a weaver, who was working on a large woven artwork for the chapel, a sort of community piece as she was teaching courses and all the students’ work would become part of the project.
She invited me to join them the following morning, and asked if I could bring any old bits of clothing, T shirts, etc. I explained that we were camping, so all my old clothing was brought to be worn; so I was excused, though I did find a second hand clothes shop in town, so was able to make a contribution.
The technique doesn’t use a frame, but lengths of warp fibres, attached to a hook in a wall, running through a “lices” ( I don’t know how that translates to English), which holds the threads in position; the other ends of the warp threads are tied to a piece of dowel, held on the wearer’s lap by a belt around their back. This means that the piece of work can be any length.
The 2 hours passed so quickly as I learnt how to use the lices and shuttle to weave strips of T shirt, then how to introduce a bit of pattern. I was the only one on the course, though other people, friends of those who work there, called in for a chat during the morning. I was very pleased with the result of my labours and took photos and measurements so that Nick could reproduce a lices for me at home.
I’ve done a small piece, using wool, denim and organza and I want to make some bedroom rugs as ours are falling apart, but I can’t find anything I like in the shops. It will also be a very useful technique to incorporate into my textile art.
I think we’ll go back to St. Gaudens soon, to see how the big artwork turned out.
The photos have come up in reverse order and I can’t work out how to alter them; sorry!