The Open College of the Arts offers an Open BA (Hons) Textiles degree as well as a pre-degree Open Foundations Textiles course for aspiring textile designers wanting to take their practice further. We are pleased to welcome a new Textiles tutor to the college – Faye Hall.
My practice continually explores creating and manipulating pattern- both in a 2D and 3D context. I like to experiment with a whole variety of techniques and to push their limitations through material choice, scale and combining with other ways to manipulate a surface.
My work tends to veer towards geometry and repetition, both of which I have a strong affinity towards- I always seem to notice things around me with those aesthetic qualities and feel drawn towards them. Back when studying for my Multi-Media Textile Design degree, I had preconceptions about what textiles were, and I felt like I should be more interested in creating floral surfaces as it seemed ‘the thing’ to be doing. I just couldn’t engage with that and found myself really intrigued by the wonderful textures you can create through folding striped paper, or weaving and knotting with wood and wire (not that florals are a bad thing- I still envy those who can create innovative surfaces using floral references as their starting point!). My degree culminated in a body of work that explored ‘pattern on pattern’, through pleating, folding, cutting and twisting to create a series of heavily tactile surfaces. Stripes formed the basis of the work, as I really found myself wanting to try as many things as possible to distort the perfect straight line in front of me.
After I finished my degree I began working freelance, and created work for an exhibition based on sustainable textiles at Milan Fashion Week. Here came my biggest challenge so far; my commission was to pleat and manipulate a fabric that was mostly plastic- as you can imagine I had a lot of it stuck to the bottom of my iron and I felt extremely frustrated. However, I am very pleased that this did happen, as it made me much more playful with how to treat materials and I learnt to think laterally with technique application. I managed to digitally and hand manipulate the unruly fabric into precise and repeated lines and shapes with a highly tactile surface that changed when stretched or squashed together. I often tell my students now that often it is a good thing to really test the boundaries of the material you are working with as you sometimes come away with innovative and exciting results that you may not have found if you followed the rules.
After a year or so of creating swatches and working on commissions, I felt slightly lost; my fabrics looked exciting but seemed to have no context of their own. I started to get fed up of making fabrics that didn’t really serve any purpose or have any direction as to where they could go. I embarked on my MA at Glasgow School of Art so that I could translate my textiles into a fashion application. By this point I had started to get really interested in creating fabric that changed through movement and I began to really delve into this concept. A particularly enlightening part of the MA was an optional module in Jewellery making- it was here that I found I could really play around with how my textiles could be worn on a smaller scale, and it is something I work on still to this day through making bespoke pieces of jewellery using a variety of techniques and processes. During my MA, I also became obsessed with knotting, hand-weaving and knitting techniques. I loved the contrast of a heavily constructed surface next to a very flat one, and my pleating and folding sat on the side for a while- I now had another way to create geometric, repetitive forms!
Fast forward to now, and my practice still explores movement, pattern on pattern and pushing limitations of materials. For a long time, I have also been interested in the concept of ‘what is precious?’- is it the sheer cost of the material you work with; silk, silver, precious stones? Or is it the time that we as makers spend on creating something? I like to question this through using relatively cheap, accessible materials such as ribbon scraps, vinyl, cotton, rope and leather off-cuts to use in textiles that can take days to complete as they are so intricate and time consuming. Currently I am using a range of techniques including braiding, old embroidery methods, knotting and weaving to explore this notion of ‘what is precious?’. I often like to have the odd ‘blow out’ too where I put everything to the side and do something completely different to keep myself from going a little bit insane from all the intricate work. Recently I created a large body of work playing with mark making and hand embroidery. The main purpose was because I was so fed up of using a muted colour palette and just wanted to play with colour a little bit again. I ended up with around 50 drawings- some hand stitched into, some not, some just stitched onto plastic, some not- and I came away feeling re-energised and some of these colour ways have found their way into current pieces, along with a renewed interest in using embroidery. This is something else I like to share with my students; if you feel like your practice is becoming dull, or that you are finding it less interesting that you were, then just go and try something totally different. Even if you spend just one day on it, I find that it can often reinvigorate your practice and you often find something of interest to explore.
I hope to continue pushing my ideas, and I still get excited by the thought of where some of my ideas can go. I also embrace change, and look forward to where my ideas may lead over the next few years.
Please note, the images span from 2007-present.
Also published on Medium.