Momoka Gomi completed the Crafts Council's Hothouse programme in 2019
Can you tell us a bit about your work?
I hand weave fabric using a mechanical dobby loom at my studio in Nottingham. My woven fabric can be decorative pieces or functional pieces for your everyday life. I believe great quality fabric can be used for anything, so eventually I leave it up to each person to decide the use. I work mainly with cotton denim and silk yarn, both of which share the characteristic of memories, creating potential change in the fabric as time passes. Textiles are as individual as their owner, and each piece should be unique. To add a distressed feature on its surface, I sometimes dye or discolour the fabric after its woven, creating a colour flow that is never the same twice. Colours are often subtle, fading textures, eroded in places to represent our life stories.
Who or what got you into making?
Throughout my childhood craft was all around me. My dad is an architect, and he was working from home. I loved watching him building his design models. We did not have many toys or games in my childhood, but we had an incredible amount of great stationery for my dad’s job. So it became natural for me to make from a young age. When I was 15 years old, I decided to learn to be a Kimono dresser; I spent two years training to master the art of dressing in this national treasure. The experience of seeing so many incredible crafted textiles made me realised my love and passion for cloth.
What are your inspirations?
At the heart of my practice, is an interest in how memory is recollected in our brain, only to decay over time delicately. Memory is the core segment to us; it creates and shapes who we are. However, it is not always the solid truth; memory is very fragile. This curiosity took me to explore using denim in my woven textile. As a hands-on designer and maker, I am fascinated by the skill of weaving. I believe this slow evolving process mimics our lives; we get wiser and more beautiful as time passes, and that shapes who we are. We can say this is the same for woven fabric; each living thread contributes towards its
individual character. I find materials, texture and how these evolve over time, extremely inspiring.
Why did you apply to Hothouse in 2019?
I was at a point where I felt I had hit a wall, and I was not sure in which direction to take my business; it was time for change and new challenges. I got to know the great textile designer Line Nilsen when she was selected for Hothouse 2017. Seeing how much Line learned and how much Hothouse helped her grow throughout the programme made me realise how much this could benefit me and help my practice evolve.
What was the most valuable thing you took from the Hothouse programme?
The programme enabled us to meet, listen and learn from other makers and designers. That was most helpful for me as a foreigner in the UK. I have lived in the UK for five years, but it has taken a long time to create a network of likeminded people, events and opportunities. The Hothouse programme has made me feel more integrated than ever.
In what ways has Hothouse helped your business?
It made me realise the importance of marketing. Because I enjoy weaving so much, I used to spend every day in the week in the studio making. I did not put myself out there, I was not informing people of what I was doing. I now understand that running your own business is multifaceted, and there are many aspects that are equally as important to prioritise in order to make it sustainable.
Describe Hothouse in three words?
Inclusive / Realistic / Supportive
Who should apply to Hothouse and what would your top tip to them be?
Any craft makers, artists or designers who wish to pursue their craft career should definitely apply to Hothouse. I applied at the very last minute. I was so scared to apply, however, writing the application form, answering all the questions, selecting the pictures of my work; all of these processes helped me to understand what I needed to learn and what I had to change. The fog in my head became slightly more transparent after submitting my application. If you're seeking advice on how to build your craft as a professional career, there is no one better than the Crafts Council. They understand this very tricky “craft business” inside out. I would say, DO IT! It is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your work and practice.
What are you doing next?
I am developing a new body of work deriving from my ‘Denim Weaves’, planning to enter these pieces in shows in 2020. Alongside experimenting and developing new work, I am also working on private commissions and collaborations. I enjoy working with clients closely and weaving something special for them. One of the most enjoyable commissions I take on is weaving bespoke neckties; I ask my client to bring me old ties from his/her family, which I hand-cut and integrate when weaving the new neckties. I love creating new life from the old material and feel honoured to be a part of the client's family history and journey.