The Weave Experiment
Plunge Pool, Museum in the Park, May – June 2010
The WEAVE experiment explores the theme of weave and woven cloth in textile heritage, landscape, and human development. The project follows the movement of landscape, water, industry and textiles across the Cotswolds, and reaches out to communities in the UK and worldwide.
Our starting point is the journey of the water wheel from its original place at the mill adjacent to Quenington Old Rectory on the river Coln, decommissioned in 1937, moved to the Museum in the Park in 1969, and finally back to Quenington in 1997 to be hung on the road bridge in the Old Rectory garden. This circular journey links both the venues for the project’s events and key heritage sites - setting out a physical line between the medieval wool towns, made wealthy by the ‘Cotswold Lion’ sheep brought by the Romans, and the eighteenth century mills of the Stroud valleys, made possible by the Roman water wheel technology, and back again – with water and landscape all the while driving the movement of human development, wealth and industry.
Mapped onto the historical backdrop of Gloucestershire’s textile industry, Studio Seven is seeking to explore ‘weave’ and the manufacturing of woven cloth as a physical, sensory, mechanical process – the movement of the waterwheels echoed by the turning wheels and rollers of carding machines, spinning jennies, and bobbins; the thundering noise of 150 textile mills in the Stroud Valleys; the deafening sound of the fulling machines ringing across the landscape; the synchronized movement of hundreds of mill workers tending the looms; the rise and fall of the heddles; the back and forth of the shuttles; the over and under of the fibres as they transform themselves from fleece to woven cloth.
The first stages of the project – an interactive postcard used to create patterns, and an installation at the Museum in the Park’s Plunge Pool, were launched in spring of 2011.