Featured in 'Craft it Yourself' on Channel 4
Our Directory Maker of the Week, Angie Parker, talks to us about getting into making, what inspires her and her favourite part of the making process.
Who or what got you into making?
Like many makers, having a gifted knitter and seamstress for a mum and an engineering-minded dad made making commonplace in my life from an early age.
A throw-away comment from my secondary school Art teacher, Juliet Caithness, about my natural flair for textiles gave my love of all things fibre-related a little shove in the right direction. Passing the first shuttle on a table loom at Cumbria College of Art, over 20 years ago, was a pivotal moment. I really felt like I’d arrived at the place I was meant to be and had a strong sense then that weaving would be part of my life, always.
Jo Barker was the tapestry lecturer on my course and simply being around her was inspiring. However, I opted to specialise in rug weaving under the late and great Master Weaver Susan Foster, with the superb Jan Beadle as technician.
I was one of the last group of students to be taught by Susan before she passed away and have always felt a kind of legacy to utilise the skills she taught me (though I’ve been reliably informed that she might have freaked out at the sight of my gaudy colour combinations).
Could you please tell us a bit about your work?
I’m curently focussing exclusively on rug weaving which I prefer to call ‘floor art’, though in the past I’ve scaled down these techniques to produce textile panels and expect to revisit that in the future.
I predominately weave Krokbragd, a traditional Scandinavian, three shaft, weft-faced rug technique. I’ve been addicted to it for 20 years now and every time a try to break away it pulls me back again before long. I’ve stopped trying to fight it now and have been saying for years that I’m unlikely to exhaust the combinations of colour and pattern spinning around in my head in my lifetime. Should that day arrive however, I have rosepath waiting in the wings and developing shaft-switching designs are something I want to pursue when the time comes.
Colour is also central to my work, which Krokbragd lends itself to perfectly and I always get a buzz when I hear people gasp and see them break into a huge beam as they get a fix of colour glee when they see my work.
What are your inspirations?
The techniques and materials themselves are often enough of an inspiration. It took me a long time to realise that and even longer to have the confidence to say it out loud.
My strongest designs have come from simply selecting a handful of colours and going for it without anything particular in mind.
Luckily, life experiences have provided excellent inspiration too. Living in India really changed my approach to colour as bold clashing colours of saris and flowers in the streets and market places under the brilliant sunlight reset my previously more conservative palette.
I now live in one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in the UK with the annual Upfest Urban Art Festival providing an ever-changing backdrop of bold colour in my daily life.
What is your favourite part of the making process?
The start of a new piece is always a joy. I love the feeling I have in the pit of my stomach when I sit in front of a perfectly tensioned warp knowing that I’m going to fill it with blasts of colour and pattern. I still get a delicious sense of satisfaction beating the weft down after all these years. I put a wavy line in each weft to stop the edges pulling in on my rugs, and seeing that beaten flat, creating order from disorder, is really pleasing.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve almost finished a rug commission for a fabulous client who discovered my work on Instagram, which I’m really enjoying. I’m also finalising some designs which I’m out-sourcing so that I’ll be able to meet the price demands of my younger audience who love the handcrafted quality and design in my work, but not the price tag which makers need to charge to earn a crust!
As well as this, I’m marketing my first exhibition at Contemporary Applied Arts in their new Maker Showcase, which opened on the 15th of August, where I’m launching my Indiranagar pieces*, preparing for Handmade at Kew in October, starting a new and exciting collaboration for the autumn which I can’t talk about yet, and general long-term business planning with the expert help of The Design Trust, which is reinforcing the superb support I experienced whilst on Crafts Council’s Hothouse in 2014. So all in all, pretty busy and pleased that things are going to plan!
This seems like a perfect opportunity to say thank you to the Crafts Council for the ongoing support for makers like myself in business.
*Indiranagar is named after the neighbourhood I lived in, in Bangalore, India, in 2006, itself named after the colourful first female Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi. The bold colours, and pops of gold glitter in this rug are depicting the layering of colours in the Sari shops I used to love visiting, and the clashes of colour everywhere! As well as being inspired by these beautiful silks, I was in awe of the the women I met whilst living there, and have chosen to celebrate the life of one of India's most important women in this rug.