Warner Textile Archive Textile Fair

On Sunday 7th May 2017 I visited the Textile Fair organised by the Warner Textile Archive in Braintree Essex.  The fair incorporates a textile exhibition, talks, “have a go” activities, opportunity to view a small part of the Warner Textile Archive, trade stalls and a pop up tearoom.

We started our visit at Braintree Town Hall where the trade stalls and pop up tearoom were set up.  After sampling a large piece of home made fruit cake and a cup of tea we walked from the Town Hall to Braintree Museum which is just around the corner, where the exhibition of new work by East Anglian Stitch Textiles (EAST) entitled ‘Following a Thread’ was on display.  The textile work was a beautiful range of work from bright quilts to depictions of personal journeys.  We were able to take photographs so here are a few.

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One of the ‘have a go’ activities was monoprinting which involved spreading acrylic paints on a laminated A4 sheet, making marks into the acrylic paint using a variety of implements and then laying over a piece of cotton calico resulting in the paint image being transferred onto the fabric. I had not tried this technique before and it gave very good results.

Playing with monoprinting


We went to hear a talk entitled ‘An Exhibition on Historic Silk at Gainsborough’s House’ by Louisa Brouwer, who is the ‘Keeper of Art & Place’ at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury Suffolk. Her talk was about a forthcoming exhibition on the history of Silk and the connection between Spitalfields in London and Sudbury, which is the only place in the UK where silk is still produced.

In the afternoon we walked down to the Warner Textile Archive to have a look at a small selection of the Archive’s collection of textiles. The archivist had selected a range of fabrics that incorporated geometric designs from the early 1900’s until the closure of Warner’s Mills in the early 1970’s.  We saw fabrics designed by Marianne Straub and Alec Hunter.  Also on display were a collection of garments made by the fashion house Oasis who recently worked together with the Warner Textile Archive.  The design team from Oasis selected 5 different historic designs from the Archive and translated them into affordable fabrics for todays fashion market.  The designs were a wonderful example of how important the Archive is in not only preserving these samples for the future but enabling them to be rediscovered for a new audience.





My Blue Suitcase – a lecture by Amanda Clayton

I was lucky enough to be able to attend a lecture by the wonderful textile artist Amanda Clayton for the Colne and Colchester Embroiders’ Guild on 29th April 2017 at Firstsite in Colchester Essex.  Amanda took us on a journey through her “life of stitching, her education, influences, philosophies and experiences”.  She started by talking about her childhood memories, her family, Aunt Kate and her education which included being taught by Anwar Shemza the artist.  She brought along lots of little bits of memorabilia from that period of her life, school books, stitched pieces and match boxes of collected items.  During her time at school she was influenced by art and lots of different crafts including printmaking and not initially by textiles.

Part of her philosophy is “visual awareness without money” and she had examples of printed papers, pieces of found china, floral transfers, pieces of antique lace and lots of other items which she uses to start building a collection of found and saved objects to initiate new creative streams.  Using everyday objects in a grander context.  Amanda also described creativity as “a thing that sometimes may not work” but that even small ideas are significant and it is important to record all of them so they can be revisited in the future.  She talked about her sketchbooks and that she has a “studio diary” which she uses at home and a smaller sketchbook which she takes out with her.  If she has forgotten her pen she uses something else like a needle to make puncture holes in the pages just so she can record something she feels is important.

Anwar Shemza was a big influence in Amanda’s life and she said one of his quotes was “You are only as good as your next piece of work” and she has carried this motto with her throughout her life.  She talked about success and contentment and how we measure these things in our life and craft.

I don’t want to spoil the rest of her story for those who get the opportunity to see her lecture “My Blue Suitcase” but she was very generous, informative and inspirational.   Amanda had a large selection of her work that had previously been exhibited and we were able to handle and examine her beautiful hand stitched textiles.

Amanda’s website is https:///www.amandajclayton.co.uk which I recommend visiting.

The above was written from notes that I made during Amanda’s lecture.