Debriefing with Lloyd

Meet Lloyd Harwood, painter, manager of Arts Council Nelson, and mentor extraordinaire; he paused especially for this blog.

Although he thought I had about the average number of people come and look at the Exhibit(ion), we both experienced the strange phenomenon of repeatedly being asked where the Exhibit(ion) is. Lloyd thought this was due to the perception that handwoven shawls are not something shown in an art gallery; in addition, I thought the small number of shawls lead people to think there was a bigger gallery "room" elsewhere.

We agreed this perception was the big stumbling block, (see also the February 12 post), in generating more interests or sale; whereas jewelry and pottery/ceramics have successfully made the transition into what he calls "studio" work, handweaving is still stuck in grandmother's spare room; handwoven cloth is not something one goes to see in an art gallery, but in a souvenir/craft shop. And the cloth themselves are not delicate textiles that can be worn and collected, but functional garments to be worn for a while and then be recycled as a dog blanket.

One of the suggestions he had, if I were to have another Exhibit(ion), was to generate a public discussion (possibly in the arts pages of the newspaper) as to how the art of handweaving in evolving, and following it up with an Exhibit(ion) so as to show what we have claimed. And to give credence to the discussion, he thought I could apply for funding to invite weavers successfully working with new/advanced techniques, and ask them to give floor talks or slide presentation, as well as have their work in the Exhibit(ion).

Brilliant! I don't know the practical steps I need to talk to realize this, but it sounds so exciting I'm seriously thinking about another Exhibit(ion)... in a couple of years.

Post Script: I chose to use the word "shawl", because, to me, it sounds elegant, fine and dressed-up. I was talking to Sue, and she thought the word sounds grandmotherly. What I weave is usually called "wraps" in New Zealand, a word which, to me, sounds more casual and the cloth coarser. I've heard "stole" as well, but to me, this is very grandmotherly, knitted or crocheted. What would you call the large-ish rectangular piece of cloth you could wear in the cold or in the evenings, but is rather fine and you might want to have them in a few different colors?


  1. meg, it's great you're already thinking of a second exhibit for your handweaving. I say, go for it! Your conversations with Lloyd seem to be really motivating. What a good resource you have in Lloyd who can hopefully objectively help you find an approach to changing the public's perception of studio-weaving-fiberarts.

    Shawl seems to be the most descriptive word for your pieces, Meg -- in that they are meant to cover just the upper back and shoulders, and maybe the head, right? I agree with you about wrap. Although I live in a different culture out here in Montana, for me the word wrap brings associations with a large wheat tortilla rolled around some kind of filling (wraps are the current trendy sandwich alternative here.) Anyway, wrap makes me smile because of the food connection. :-)

    I thought about your question to your blog readers, what would I call the large-ish rectangular piece of cloth I might wear against the cold or darkness... something I would want to have in several colors. ...

    Shawl is a word I have always used to describe the very large woven rectangles I wear wrapped all the way around my back, shoulders, chest.... I have one that has been on 12 vision quests with me (where we have no sleeping bag against the cold nights) -- it is so full of power from being my "shelter" for anywhere from 1 day to 4 days, that the shawl itself is a now sacred object for me. I love that word, shawl.

    I also use the word "scarf" to describe a smaller, narrower piece either knitted or woven, that is worn just around the neck.

    A hood is something I use to cover my head. A shawl can also cover one's head -- the great thing about a shawl is you can wrap it around your body in different ways for different purposes.

    Thinking about the word shawl, and about your weaving in particular, it occurs to me that in order to establish the perception that your handweaving actually is studio-work and not just a grandmotherly "craft," you might play more with metaphor as you are designing and weaving your pieces. Find a metaphor that resonates for you, and explore it as far as you can -- like working on a themed "series" with poetic symbollism.

    In that context (weaving metaphorical garments -- or garments that are also metaphors) the word you have already been using, shawl, would work perfectly. Did you know shawl comes from the word for hill "shaw?" There must be a metaphor in there somewhere.

    Even so, here are some other ideas that might start you thinking along the line of metaphors in your weaving:

    cloak (morning-cloak; dream-cloak)which gives the connotation of a "mask" or disguise -- something you could play on metaphorically. EG: what kind of masks do we wear in public? in private? maybe we aren't even concious of our disguises ....

    garment (as in shoulder-garment; night-garment; outer-garment; evening-garment; morning-garment star-watching garment; hand-holding-garment; ocean-garment)
    shelter (as in body-shelter)

    you could also call them body blankets or shoulder envelopes . A made-up word like "enfoldment" or "wrapment" might give connote an exotic quality in your shawls.


    mantle for me, this is the best word, symbolically. I looked up the definition of mantle because I know it has multiple, widely different meanings. Here's what I came up with. How cool would it be to weave a mantle or "sheath of threads that give off brilliant illumination?" Or to weave a geological layer between Earth's outer crust and it's core (a layer between our outer personas and our inner souls?) What a wonderful metaphor it would be to weave a triptych of mantles -- one that conceals what you do not want to display, one that covers lovingly like a mother pulling the blanket up over a sleeping child, one that hangs "like dust" in the evening backlight? I would love one of your mantles woven to become the "shoulder feathers and back of a bird" ... or a folded wall that lines a shell ... something that forms a habitation, a home for thoughts, dreams, wishes.

    I get all of that nonsense from this dictionary entry for "mantle:"
    Mantle:NOUN: 1. A loose sleeveless coat worn over outer garments; a cloak. 2. Something that covers, envelops, or conceals: “On a summer night . . . a mantle of dust hangs over the gravel roads” (John Dollard). 3. Variant of mantel. 4. The outer covering of a wall. 5. A zone of hot gases around a flame. 6. A device in gas lamps consisting of a sheath of threads that gives off brilliant illumination when heated by the flame. 7. Anatomy The cerebral cortex. 8. Geology The layer of the earth between the crust and the core. 9. The outer wall and casing of a blast furnace above the hearth. 10. The wings, shoulder feathers, and back of a bird when differently colored from the rest of the body. 11. Zoology a. A fold or pair of folds of the body wall that lines the shell and secretes the substance that forms the shell in mollusks and brachiopods. b. The soft outer wall lining the shell of a tunicate or barnacle.
    INTRANSITIVE VERB: 1. To spread or become extended over a surface. 2. To become covered with a coating, as scum or froth on the surface of a liquid. 3. To be overspread by blushes or colors: a face that was mantled in joy.
    ETYMOLOGY: Middle English, from Old English mentel and from Old French mantel, both from Latin mantellum.

    garment (as in shoulder-garment; night-garment; outer-garment; evening-garment; morning-garment star-watching garment; hand-holding-garment; ocean-garment)
    shelter (as in body-shelter)

    you could also call them body blankets or shoulder envelopes . A made-up word like "enfoldment" or "wrapment" might give connote an exotic quality in your shawls.

    whoah! I see I wrote a treatise! Hope you don't mind, meg. take care. Now I have to get some work done!

  2. You must know Lloyd; he uses the word "metaphor" a lot when discussing art.

    I'm still new at this "art" thing, but I'm finally at a point where I can read/hear suggestions and get a sense of the person's creative process (ergo, understand what is being suggested to me) and the prospect is thrilling. As I said elsewhere, this was the first time I created a series, and I am definitely guilty of "disregarding impulses to branch out"; branching out has been scary and bothersome for me, because it entails the danger of not meeting the schedule/plan, or disrupting the wider scheme.

    I love the different names you proposed: if I claim to weave shawls which are different to what are more commonly found here, of course I could call it something else as well. And that, in turn, may enhance the difference that perhaps only I see at this point.

    And we, too, have wraps, but I like bread, so I tend to go for the bread-with-filling option, except when we're having Mexican. Yum.

  3. I love that you are so open to suggestion, yet still seem very centered in your own process, your own way of expressing what's inside you. That's important to being able to develop your unique vision and style.

  4. Prerogative of a newbie, Maureen. But totally uncharacteristic of me; in other aspects of my life, I don't take criticisms easily or humbly. I think in weaving I sincerely want to improve and I am painfully aware of the lack of (or the short time I've spent so far in) "training", and as I get older, I appreciate the different paths people have walked in their lives, so I listen.

    This all makes decision-making a bit of a chore, but I'm getting a hang of not rushing art, just a little bit.


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