About Hem: Handwoven
I’m Nell a weaver working in the heart of the Peak District and yearning for the sea. I use natural fibres and antique hand looms.
Fleeting memories are the foundation of my practice- it’s reminiscent of synesthesia, feeling the sun and wind and smelling the sea air. Often I dream my weaves – and slowly the idea comes into focus and I have all the elements I need to begin. I weave sea and mountain, coast and peak- the smallest things grab me- raindrops on rock pools and windows, ripples in the sand, moss on walls, cobblestones. My weaves capture movement, pattern and texture to create textiles embedded with underlying codes and a significance of place, time and memory.
I weave garments and textiles for the home in natural fibres- from an environmental perspective, producing the least impactful fabrics. Place is significant for my practice- I’m surrounded by fields full of sheep so wool is my favourite versatile, and renewable of fibres. I’m fascinated by the fibreshed movement, which seeks to link land reclamation, farming, yarn spinning, weaving and garment production together in small community networks. This linking of beginnings to endings, inputs to outputs that creates connections between people and preserves skills and creates local small-scale production that is my driver .I am motivated by a need to de-scale production levels, produce and value quality fabrics, repair what we have and see fabrics for their technical and artistic value.
I always made things- I was brought up in a household of makers, and as an only child, I spent lots of time following my imagination and making. I’m fascinated with fabric- I import fabrics from Japan and Sweden. Trying to find the perfect fabric led me back to wanting to learn to weave- I remember making little cardboard looms when I was a child. Weaving is old. There are hundreds of thousands of drafts, offering infinite combinations of pattern, colour and texture. I think this bottomless quality is what appeals- as in my academic background in archaeology- you never know everything so there’s always something to learn, a new experience to be had.
My looms found me! I use an eight shaft, custom-built Swedish floor loom, made for me by my partner. I began my practice on a four shaft loom made by John and George Maxwell. They lived and worked in a commune in Suffolk set up by Eric Gill the sculptor and artist. It’s about 100 years old and I restored it. I am the custodian of beautiful bespoke loom from Sweden that belonged to one of our greatest weavers: Barbara Mullins and her mother Gwen ran a weaving workshop and school- they were know as the Graffham Weavers. Gwen taught the finest 20th century rug weaver, Peter Collingwood. My loom was owned by Barbara- I’ve found hours of audio recordings in the British library, talking about her life and work. – Gwen went on to found the Craft Council- they were two remarkable women whose story needs to be more widely known. I want to build a weaving shed and get it up and working again. It feels fitting that it should be working again and I feel the responsibilityprofoundly.
2 The Orchard, The Hills
Bradwell, Hope Valley
+44 771 3831013