In April 2013 the Midlands Branch of the BTG held a meeting. I was unable to attend as I had a bad flue-like cold, couldn’t face the journey and didn’t want to spread my germs.
I later received an email from the group and discovered that one of the items discussed was the possibility of holding an exhibition in the Spring of 2014 with the working title ‘Between the Edges’ and asking if anyone was interested. I replied that I was but, being new to weaving, doubted that I would have anything of a sufficient standard to exhibit. The reply that came back was to ‘go for it’! Completely out of character for me, I thought ‘why not?’ and decided to accept the challenge.
The Riversley Art Gallery in Nuneaton, Warwickshire was duly booked for an exhibition of woven tapestry to take place from 24th May – 13th July 2014. The confirmed title was to be ‘From Edge to Edge’, the idea being that this could cover almost anything! Six weavers would be taking part – besides myself there would be the three Shropshire Weavers (Maralyn Hepworth, Pauline Fisk and Lindsay Marshall), Victoria Green, the group co-ordinator, and Jane Freear whom I had yet to meet.
All six of us went along to the next meeting, which took place at the Riversley Gallery in late August, where I met Jane for the first time. We discussed the arrangements for the exhibition and had a look at the space we needed to fill. I felt completely out of my depth, with talk of pricing the work, producing quality photographs, writing artists statements and everything else connected with a professional exhibition, none of which seemed to apply to me – I was an amateur, a hobbyist! What had I let myself in for?
By the time the exhibition details were confirmed it left me with about six months to produce a suitable body of work as it would need to be ready well in advance of the exhibition to allow time for the photographs, catalogue listing etc. and panic began to set in. Weaving is a slow process. The other weavers had been at it for considerably longer than me and had, no doubt a suitable body of work to fall back on while maybe producing one or two new pieces. I had nothing.
Or had I? Perhaps I could use some of the work I had already done. Not the copied samplers of course, but I had done some original pieces. Maybe I could submit the cushions, then there was also my ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Pinwheel’ small tapestries – it was a start.
Design-wise I had been ready to try something a bit more complicated than I had done so far, but complicated takes longer to do and with the exhibition on the horizon I couldn’t afford the time to try out more complex techniques. I decided that ‘simple but effective’ would be my watchword, I would consolidate what I had learned so far while trying to come up with what I hoped would be attractive pieces of weaving.