The Textile Studio with Dr. Claire Barber

Claire started her talk by explaining that she is a sight-specific artist, she specialises in textiles but has learned to be adaptable and include photography, film, and so on. Throughout her career, she has never actually had a physical studio so went on to say she looked up ‘studio’ and in Latin, it means ‘to study’ pondering, musing about things, and that we can study in any place.

Claire then talked about her time in Slovakia in 1997 at that time it was a communist country where the government paid the energy bills so the gallery she was working in was very hot, she had a huge space for an installation and created a rectangle of spaced out pins, with segments of apples she bit a piece out and placed a segment on each pin, as time passed the segments would dry and curl on the pins in the hot gallery. She then uses her photography of the installations to build a portfolio of work to archive it.

Claire’s had various roles artist in residence, teaching, and commissioned artist, she has worked and lived all over the world in Australia, Bosnia, Slovakia, and Japan and spent 8 weeks on Bardsey Island in Wales (The Island if 20,000 saints) whilst working there, when she arrived native sheep were leaving because of changes on the island. Claire managed to get some wool from them and used it to create footwear for the children she was working with. Coincidently, BBC 2 was making a documentary on the island at the same time so some of her work was captured on film. Whilst in Japan she worked on a 2-person collaboration on a project called ‘Through the Surface – Britain and Japan Textile Artists’ and created stamps.

‘Crafting the Community’ was a project she worked on with June Hill from 2009-2013, they went to music festivals and reclaimed tents and sleeping bags that had been left behind and cleaned them. They were sent to ‘The Sleeping Bag Project’. Claire did this as part of her Ph.D., and her research was on ‘Socially Engaged Practice’. Whilst doing this Claire and June showcased the tents and sleeping bags at an exhibition called ‘Knitting and Stitching Show’ in Harrogate. They used their creative craft skills along with students to add something extra for example one of the sleeping bags had a pocket sewn into the sleeping bag.

Claire worked on a book called ‘Mining Couture’ which was created through doing a project in Leicester for the Midland Coal Mining Museum when they were doing some Industrial archaeology, she said, she had a portacabin and joked this is the closest I have had to a real studio, whilst onsite she was doing some natural dying on garments.

Transmigration art was a commission she worked on where she looked at the history of migrants traveling through Hull, England, and on to the new world, America, and Australia, through archives, she saw that they had woven baskets that were crafted by them in their own countries and then found one overseas and went to see it, Claire illustrated the weaving and then used this pattern on onto train tracks. Claire sees her studio as anyway there is a space.

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