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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Moving Textiles: Digital Encounters, an interview with Louize Harries

Multi-disciplinary textile designer Louize Harries talks us through her marvellous and thought provoking work for the Digital Enounters exhibition, hosted by the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Louize Harries Digital Encounters
Louize Harries, Digital Encounters.

The University for the Creative Arts currently hosts Digital Encounters, the final exhibition in the Crysalis Project Moving Textiles series, curated by Jenna Rossi‐Camus. In this exciting exhibition the works of over forty emerging and established textile designers, artists and craftspeople explore the place of digital technology in contemporary textile practice. I spoke with exhibitor Louize Harries, formerly of Prick Your Finger and now engaged in her own fine art textiles practice.

Digital Encounters-Louise Harries robotcontactsheet
Louise Harries, Robot contact sheet.

How did you tackle the brief: Digital Encounters?
The question the curator set us was ‘How do you see the future of textiles and it’s relationship to digital media?’ Coming up with ideas for anything is the easy part for me; it’s the editing of them that is the harder bit! But, as the question was wide it was a good chance to tie up and bring together lots of ideas I had floating around and form them into something new. The development came with doing lots of research, starting with the stuff I am already into, which at the moment is sci-fi and robotploitation films (Cherry 2000, Sex Kittens Go To College, Metropolis) so it was like a giant join up the dots. I had also just finished reading Homer’s Iliad and I realised that Hephaestus (who makes Achilles’ armour) had golden mechanical handmaidens to assist him… so there it all was… the first mention of robots, and female ones… and the idea which every crafts person struggles with, which is the labour involved in making. Even Hephaestus struggled and he was the Greek god of craft. ‘Future’ in today’s discourse is often about progress and speed, but making handwoven tapestries must be one of the slowest techniques known to humans since the process hasn’t essentially changed since the 3rd century. So the only time it will speed up is if a weave bot is invented: I thought I’d become my own Hephaestus golden handmaid and using the technology I had available my on my iphone 4 I filmed and edited myself weaving a series of robot-selfies! I don’t tend to focus or attach myself too heavily to outcomes, so I see them almost as a side effect of the process and research and explorations. I welcome developments along the way and trust in any last minute swerves and detours!

Charley Mortley - Digital Depth of Fold
Charlie Mortley, Digital Depth of Fold.

What was the process of creation?
It was long! I can and do work to tight deadlines, so before each project I make a timetable so I know roughly how long I can spend doing R&R vs making… but this project had a long lead time so I enjoyed myself!

Digital Encounters-JamesFox_NotNow_2014
James Fox, Not Now.

Did you learn anything new from taking part in this exhibition?
YES! I learnt how to edit and do special effects on my phone and that I need to practice my public speaking cos I ALWAYS do a bit of a freezer during any presentations and symposiums and find myself thinking of odd stuff just when I’m supposed to be answering questions!

Digital Encounters-Faye Tinmouth_IT_PhotoChristopherTurner_2014
Faye Tinmouth

What else have you been working on this summer?
This summer I’ve also been working as part of an amazing collective set up by Lyall Hakaraia from Vogue Fabrics in Dalston. It’s called Vogue goes Rogue and we have done a series of creative journeys or ritualistic corporate journeys which have involved making totems and much magic and fun; for instance I made a 5×4 meter totem called THE COLLECTOR which we took to Glastonbury, paraded through Hackney and used in a performace at the Ram Place pop up fashion market/space set up by the Barbican as part of curation for the John Paul Gaultier exhibition.

Digital Encounters-Carol Quarini_unheededwarning_2014
Carol Quarini, Unheeded Warning.

What is your favourite method of textile construction at the moment and why?
My favorite method of textile construction is a hard one as I have a big love for all forms of constructed textiles… but having said that I do love weaving! I love that most methods are simple to grasp but take a life time to master, so you can always improve and you learn constantly. And it can all be done with really simple equipment: the fact that you only need two sticks or one hook or a basic frame to make the most amazing stuff still excites me!!

The Digital Encounters exhibition takes place at the Herbert Read Gallery on the UCA Canterbury campus and finishes on the 26th July so you have just a few days left to take a look at all the work on show for yourself.

@UCA_Crysalis
www.twitter.com/UCA_Crysalis
#digitalencounters

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