Before embarking on this project we were asked to consider our perception of what textiles as a displine might be and what we consider a textile.
As I considered this I jotted down words that came to me – material, cloth, fabric,cotton, nylon, paper, plastic, thread, rope, woven, knitted, stitched, plaited, hair, fur, leather, wool, metal wire, plant fibres.
One word that in my mind seemed to link all of these was flexible. If the material is not flexible then I don’t think it could be regarded as a textile.
So I turned to the internet to see what information it had
“A textile is a flexible material consisting of a network of natural or artificial fibres (yarn or thread).” (Wikipedia 2017)
A material is not a textile if it is rigid, but if only one component of a material is rigid then it is possible for it to be bound together with another and would then still be considered a textile. I even found examples of textile infused concrete that make beautiful wall coverings.
Textile infused concrete
Textiles could tell a narrative in many ways. Woven hangings, tapestries and blankets were often made to depict historical legends, stories and scenes. Often these type of textiles would be handed down within families much like a history book, the bonus of having it in a woven format being that it would be much more durable while having a practical function such as warming cold stone walls and being aesthetically pleasing. It was a more accessible way to pictorially represent stories during times when people couldn’t read and paper was scarce and expensive.
Textiles in the form of clothing tell stories of how the cloth was made and where and what the item may have been used for. It can tell a story of the style and fashion of the time it’s from. Is it dyed or printed? Does it have embellishment? Is it plain workwear or glitzy partywear? For the wearer it might evoke memories of where it was worn, or feelings they had while wearing it. A football top that was worn at a match may evoke memories of the excitement, nerves and jubilation when their team won or a beautiful dress worn by a woman when her husband proposed to her, may remind her of that happiness.
Exercise 1.1 The Archive
I was initially worried about the ability to find a textile archive anywhere close to me. I spent a good amount of time looking through websites that mentioned textiles in Scotland. I identified a number of items I would like to have looked at in the Glasgow area but after contacting a few places I discovered that they were either closed for refurbishment or wouldn’t be accessible in the time frame I had. Feeling my anxiety mounting I decided to phone the museum and art gallery in Inverness. While still being a four hour round trip away for me if they had textiles in their archive and I could view then it would solve my problem. I was able to talk directly to the archivist and she was extremely helpful and we made an appointment for me to visit. Unfortunately the archive is not available on the internet so I was not able to do any research or pick items prior to my visit.
On the day of my visit I felt a sense of excitement as I would finally be moving forward with the course and also because I was going to do something I wouldn’t even have considered doing before, it made me feel like a proper student!
Wikipedia. (2017) ‘Textile’ definition [online] At:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile (Accessed on 12 September 2017)