Hello, and welcome to the second day at the Weerribben Textile Festival!
Looking through the many, many photographs I’ve taken, making a selection was again a struggle. There were so many beautiful and interesting things to see. In the end, I’ve chosen to focus on the items that have made the most surprising use of materials.
Before we head off, here’s a picture to give you an idea of the landscape we’re cycling through.
We’re on the edges of the Weerribben National Park. It’s my ordinary, everyday landscape of farmland surrounded by hedgerows and small plots of woodland.
The first location we’re visiting is a gallery housed here:
Inside are multiple items by Atelier Vuurwater, a collaboration between a ceramist and a textile artist. You’ve already seen the bowls they call barstjes (cracks) at the top – cracked black raku-fired ceramic with a blue felt lining. And here are two of their urns in the same unusual combination of materials.
There are also several works solely by the textile-artist-half of this duo, Miriam Verbeek. These use only one material (felt), but in a very interesting way. They resemble old black-and-white photographs, but because of the way the felt has been manipulated they give the impression of fading, just like memories fade.
One of the nice things about cycling from location to location is that it prevents what is sometimes called ‘museum fatigue’. At our next stop, there’s this intriguing combination of acorn caps, organza, lycra, glue, wood, cardboard in a work called ‘Golden Days’ by Godelieve Spee.
It is accompanied by a poetic text about autumn and the changing of the seasons.
The next exhibit, by Janny Mensen (no website), uses different materials and techniques again: photographs transferred onto wood overlaid with embroidery. Studying it closely it looks to me like a naked female form in some sort of yoga pose, but I may be wrong. I like how the embroidery stitches resemble pine needles.
Well, time for some lunch. There are no cafés or restaurants along this part of the route, and all benches are already taken by other festival cyclists. So it’s sandwiches on the grass around the next location, I’m afraid. The locations vary from community buildings to private homes, campsites and churches. This is the church at Paasloo.
They were made using scraps of antique silk and wool fabrics, lace, linen yarns, card and (curiouser and curiouser) bird’s nests and a bird skeleton (click on images below to enlarge):
The text embroidered in red says: ‘Let us pray for the animals… for the chickens… that they get more space and no flu… for the birds… that they take a detour… for the people… that they chase less growth…’
The next work, by Ilja Walraven, was actually on the route of the first day, but I felt it had to be included here because of the very unusual use of materials and objects: Chairs…
… with wine glasses and beakers filled with bits of sheep’s wool on the seats, arranged according to hue, from dark to light.
Is it art? It looks like it and it was made by a professional artist, so yes, I suppose so. Is it textile art? Hmmmm… And what does it MEAN? Does it matter what box it fits into? Does it matter what it means?
I also wonder why haven’t I seen a single stitch of knitting during these two days. Coincidence? Doesn’t it belong in the category textiles? Doesn’t it lend itself to art? And why do I feel drawn to making useful stuff instead of art?
Some of the things at the Weerribben Textile Festival have raised question marks. Some have made me smile or feel inspired. Others have evoked feelings of nostalgia. Some have even upset me, and I think that’s all good. Because isn’t that what art is all about – uplifting and challenging us?
Well, after this philosophizing let’s end on a light-hearted note, with whimsical collection by Erna Platel, using tins, maps, bits of ribbon and lace, buttons and other haberdashery: