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.
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.
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.