Marie Clews and Liz Calnan

Liz and Marie recently returned from a wonderful trip to the US where both attended Convergence, the biannual conference of the Hand Weavers Guild of America.
This year’s event was held at the Long Beach Convention centre from 15 to 21 July. Marie returned home after this and Liz stayed on to attend the Complex Weavers Seminars held in September in Washington. Liz showed a very inspiring, tantalising power point presentation of the highlights of their trip. As Liz had only recently returned to Australia, it was a formidable achievement to get the presentation so well organized from 6500 photos!


Arriving a few days ahead of the conference allowed them both to visit local sights and take specially organized tours. One sightseeing adventure took them to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels which features the largest collection of tapestries hanging in a catholic church in the US. Created by artist John Nava, the tapestries reflect the multicultural elements of the city particularly in the Communion of Saints where 1st Century and Renaissance saints are intermingled with faces from the 20th Century. The tapestries are beautifully woven to look like frescoes on an old wall complete with blemishes and figures slightly larger than life size. A work at the back of the cathedral behind the baptismal font shows a wonderful tapestry of the baptism of Christ.
The next day they took a bus trip to Long Beach, saw the Queen Mary and to the Long Beach Museum of Art for an exhibition of tapestries and HGA’s Small Expressions exhibition. This juried exhibition has a variety of works no bigger than 30x30x30cm using fibre techniques in any media. The winning exhibit by Jenine Shereos was of a leaf made of human hair. An exhibition by the American Tapestry Association at the Long Beach Library included a work by Marie. Looming Election at the Craft in America centre was politically charged work by 5 textile artists.
Each day bought more to see and more to do. The HGA Convergence website had many listings of exhibitions for attendees to visit and I think that Liz and Marie visited them all! California State University featured Anne Abendroth’s Color and Costumes an exhibition of non wearable art. The Pine Street Galleries saw the Seaside Tapestry group present Once upon a time to illustrate in tapestry a story written by Nicki Bair.
A bus tour to a private house featured Aaron Kramer‘s recycled things including a cork chair and a ball made of metal wires.
Liz and Marie had so many images to share with us it is impossible to list everything here. The photos from Convergence itself were remarkable showing woven, felted and hand sewn yardage hung from the 1st floor. The vendor hall provided a lot of temptation, particularly as a raffle ticket was given with every purchase. Speakers at Convergence included Lucy Dunn who develops wearable technologies and Laurie Steger who works with woven fibre optics.
Liz and Marie both recommend Convergence as an event everyone should attend if they can, with 37 workshops to choose from as well as 30 one day seminars, workshops, studios, exhibits, fashion show and tours. And it’s not just weaving, there is spinning, basketry, garment making: something for everyone — and especially in the vendors hall.

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