Saturday, May 5, 2007

Concept, Line and Weave

Lines are one of the simplest marks you can make, and one of the most important design elements for a weaver. Since I have always enjoyed the math involved in weaving, I revel in the relationships and spacial tension between lines and in turn threads. Weavers often learn to explore this through crammed and spaced warps where the warp threads are spaced at different widths apart.

For many years, the work of minimalist and conceptual artist Sol Lewitt (who sadly died earlier this month) has been an irresistible attraction for me. He used his conceptual ideas with prescribed methods for series of combinations of lines and colours. For his line drawings and prints he believed that the idea and formula were to be distinguished from the personalization of the work. He used a prescribed formula (eg Squares with a Different Line Direction in Each Half Square Series 1971.) and often had others produce or install the work.

"When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.
The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.
” —Sol LeWitt (Sol LeWitt, “Paragraphs on Conceptual Art,” Artforum 5, no. 10 (June 1967), pp. 79–83, reprinted in Gary Garrels, ed., Sol LeWitt: A Retrospective (exh. cat.), 2000, p. 369.)

His mechanical and removed ideas are easily relatable to weaving. The prescibed actions of planning the cloth which should, if proper notation is kept, be repeatable by anyone who understands the notation (this, of course applies mainly to production weaving, not hand manipulated work); the simplicity of the action of threading a loom; the consideration of colour, line and placement.

Naturally, of course, as a hand weaver I manipulate, tweak and change the cloth as I weave; I am constantly evaluating as I work. In considering the ideal I take from the concepts of LeWitt, (apart from the beauty of his lines) it is that the consideration and structure of the art is just as important as the making of the work.

- Mel

More links to Sol LeWitt -

Please note - all images of woven samples in this entry are my own work and of my own design.


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