Laura Thomas
Woven Textiles: art, design, education

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Threads residency in India, Nov 2017

In November 2017, I had the joy of spending 2 weeks undertaking an artists residency at Khamir, in the Kachchh region of Gujarat, in Northern India. I went without any preconceived notion of what I was wanting to look for in terms of inspiration or ideas. I just wanted to have my eyes and heart open to the new experiences and see what captured my imagination.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the trip for me was just seeing textiles everywhere. Literally everywhere. A huge proportion of the population is involved with textile making in some capacity, and this was evidenced wherever we went. We all particularly adored seeing lengths of fabric stretched out on the ground to dry in the sun - it was like walking within an all-encompassing textile landscape.

I was also extremely interested in the indigenous organic kala cotton, handspun and naturally dyed to the highest standard at Khamir. It is well known that the production of conventional cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging practices on the planet. Yet, here in the dry, dusty Kachchh deserts, kala cotton grows naturally without irrigation or pesticides. Once spun into a fine thread, it seemed to retain the essence of the desert within it. It is a very dry yarn, with organic irregularities. It was also spun with a ‘high twist’: the yarn retracts and kinks, and holds a latent energy.

Here are a small selection of the many, many photographs I took whilst in India, and they reveal the sources of inspiration for the brand new work I made in response to this most wonderful of experiences.

Threads is produced by Ceri Jones, Fieldwork in partnership with Khamir, Ruthin Craft Centre and Carmarthen School of Art.It is funded by Wales Arts International, British Council Wales and the Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Wales Ambassador Award.