Charlotte Haywood visited the Guild in August on the eve of her new exhibition, Blue/Orange and gave us an extremely interesting presentation of some of her work.
Charlotte told us that she had little formal artistic or craft tuition as a child or teenager – a topic she would touch on later. However she developed an interest in fashion. This led to work in costume in film and television and developed her artistic skills as a designer. Her interest in textiles was a natural evolution from this background and she went on to study tapestry weaving at Warrnambool TAFE.
A visit to Varanassi in India allowed her to explore the possibilities of jacquard weaving techniques. On a holiday in Peru she was seduced by the local weaving and the vibrant colours the weavers used. Charlotte also talked about her role as a facilitator of the hyperbolic crochet reef exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum and showed us examples of the work produced. She also gave us a sneak preview of her exhibition of shaped tapestries and installations which look at polarities of colour and the ideas of opposites as exemplified in her video installation of a Samurai council worker, or the contrasts between digital art and hand knits.
Despite some very annoying difficulties with the trail of our video conferencing system, Charlotte accompanied her talk with some beautiful examples of the work she had completed on these journeys and exhibitions.
Charlotte talked about the current wave of interest in crafts amongst younger women and postulated that craft epochs or revivals often seem to occur after a significant technological change in society. In the 19th century, for instance, the Arts and Crafts movement came about as a reaction to the impact of industrialisation and machine-made textiles. In the 1950’s and 60’s a second craft revival, and ideas of self sufficiency, could be interpreted as a post nuclear epoch in reaction to the recent wars in Europe, the Pacific and Korea and the threat of atomic warfare.
At present we could be defined as living in a post digital age where technology and computers are a part of everyday life. As a result people seek enjoyment or activity by taking up old crafts again. Charlotte also mentioned that for young women now who are part of the 3rd wave of feminism, craft and domestic skills are no longer seen chores or barriers to women’s equality. In fact, traditional crafts have been embraced both for the satisfaction and sense of achievement they bring as well as enabling women to turn traditional views of domestic crafts on their head with the movement known as Craftivism. Craftivism can be defined as craft plus activism where individuals can apply their creativity to address particular causes or address social concerns eg knitting scarves for women’s shelters.
Charlotte referred back to her own childhood and teenage years when many of the craft skills we practice simply were not taught and she encouraged us, as a Guild, to seek opportunities where we can pass on our knowledge to younger generations – particularly to school children. She suggested making use of public spaces, eg libraries where we could hold workshops, or perhaps even as individuals approach schools and offer to teach groups of children our skills. And, of course, there is always the opportunity to teach our own children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews or neighbour’s kids.
Charlotte inspired us all with her passion and enthusiasm and professionalism and I’m sure we can expect to see a lot more of her work in the future.