Between the Web and the Loom is a collaboration between Joan Baxter, tapestry artist; John McGeoch, moving image artist; Claire Pençak, choreographer; Shamita Ray, dancer and James Wyness, composer.
This evocative collection of finely crafted moving image works, explore themes around weaving through textiles, sound and dance.
The context for the work is the Orkney land and seascape, a short story ‘The Weaver’ by the great Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown and the sounds of the remaining Scottish Borders textile mills.
The tapestry by Joan Baxter is in three panels representing the three main elements of the narrative; the sea, the land and the shroud. The story is split into 12 ‘verses’ that describe the weaver’s view of the cycle of the seasons through the events and activities of ordinary rural life. These are the ‘grey cloths’ he weaves on one of his two looms for crofters and fishermen, realised as the sea and land panels.
In between the verses are short ‘choruses’ that allude to what might have been; the weaver’s lost young sweetheart, the man he could have become and the fine cloth he might have woven, as represented by his second empty loom. These ideas are contained in the shroud panel. The woven part of the tapestry is contained, perhaps trapped, in a coloured warp above and below it, solid geology built between the fluidity of sea and sky.
Filmed dance sequences are projected into three textile pieces. There are 12 dance phrases, one for each section of the story. The motion from right to left and left to right, echoes the movement of the shuttle across the loom.
In one instance the dancer appears to be absorbed into the tapestry itself and inhabits the world of the weave. In the film that is projected into the weavers sample she appears as 12 small figures and her gestures seem to express the mechanical insistence of the loom. The third piece brings out the poetic quality of the dancers movement through close up fleeting glimpses. The linen suggests the shroud. Each variation has a distinct rhythmic quality.
The sound composition by James Wyness uses recordings made in current working textile mills in the Scottish Borders – Andrew Elliot Ltd and Lochcarron in Selkirk and Drove Weaving in Langholm – and recordings made in Estonia of hand looms, spinning wheels and yarn winders. This raw sound material is filtered and stretched to reveal new morphologies and a variety of textural layers are created to form the sonic strands of the final work.
I found myself very moved – a beautifully realised work placed in a fantastic setting – spiritual and profound.Audience comment YES Festival