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I'm an arts journalist & PR consultant living and working in Scotland. I've been a journalist for more than 25 years. I write a regular column for Scottish quality newspaper, The Herald. I deliver a PR service with an arty bent and work on a consultancy basis with arts organisations, including Scotland's leading creative industries festival, XpoNorth & broadcast support body, ScreenHI. I am currently co-writing a book about the celebrated Scots artist, George Wyllie, with his daughter Louise. Instrumental in making a celebration of his life's work happen in 2012. For more information, see www.georgewyllie.com When I'm not being a mum/working, I talk to my dog. He laps it up. Contact me on janpatience@me.com (All work © Jan Patience)

Monday, 18 January 2010

To Tweave or Not to Tweave...At Dovecot Studios


Pictured: Detail of ‘Cardigan Study’ stop frame animation installation being shown in Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution


EXHIBITION PROFILE (Unedited version of piece published in The Herald ABC section January 16 2010)

TAKING TIME: CRAFT AND THE SLOW REVOLUTION
Dovecot Studios
Infirmary Street, Edinburgh
0131 550 3660
www.takingtime.org and www.tweave.co.uk
Tue-Sat, 10.30-5.30pm
From today until March 10

What could be more of its time than an exhibition created by traditional craft makers which quietly asks thought-provoking questions about our contemporary global obsession with doing everything at breakneck speed?
Even more zeitgeist-like, an exhibition which harnesses the world wide web as a tool, using the likes of micro-blogging website, Twitter, and other digital media to engage with audiences looking at the work of said traditional craft makers.
The touring exhibition, Taking Time, which starts today at Dovecot Studios, was originated by craft development organisation, Craftspace, and features the work of 19 artists and makers. It has been curated by the artist Helen Carnac (check out her insightful podcast giving the low-down at the taking time website) and comes to Dovecot directly from Birmingham for its only Scottish date.
The overreaching premise of the show is to reflect on the ‘slow revolution’. This indolent anarchy on an international scale began with the Slow Food movement in Italy more than 20 years ago and has gathered pace (so to speak) ever since.
According to Carnac, herself a maker and artist of note, Taking Time considers ideas around time and process, material and value, site and locality, relationships to community and the ever-changing nature of production and consumption.
Amy Houghton is just one of the textile artists involved in the project. She has been commissioned to create www.tweave.co.uk, a web-based ‘socially engaging digital artwork’ which virtually weaves a length of material using Tweets provided for the purpose by subscribers to Twitter.
For her it has provided a fantastic opportunity to interact with people through the wonders of the web, as well as the medium of two onsite works, especially commissioned for Taking Time.
“I work with time a lot in my work in the shape of historic textiles,” she explains. “I’d come across the Slow Movement, but it wasn’t until I started researching it that I started to make links to my own works. The idea that you could make something using the web and digital media - play about with pieces of time, if you like, was fascinating and tied in with many of the ideas which preoccupy me.”
One of the exhibits which attracted a lot of attention in Birmingham was Houghton’s antique desk on which a PC monitor and an old-fashioned typewriter sit side by side. On the monitor, an animated film is playing. It shows an archived document on the practice of weaving, which Houghton discovered in Dovecot Studios’ archive at Mount Stuart on Bute being scraped away to reveal just ink and paper.
Dovecot was originally founded in 1912 by the 4th Marquess of Bute, with the founding weavers coming from William Morris’ Merton Abbey Workshops in Wimbledon, London.
The sting in the Houghton’s tale in the making, is that the stop frame animation only works when a key is pressed on the typewriter. It is also suggested that the viewer then participate in the proceedings by taking the time to write a letter in the typewriter which is meaningful to them.
Participants are invited to leave their letters in a drawer in the antique desk or take them away with them.
Interestingly, Houghton says that many of those who didn’t leave their letters actually took the time to transcribe them and then email them to her after the event. Others logged them on the Taking Time blog.
As a browse around the info-packed Taking Time website reveals, visitors who came to see the exhibition in Birmingham clearly engaged with the inspired notion of melding traditional crafts such as weaving with our buzzy brave new technoworld.
There is room, it seems for both to sit comfortably cheek by jowl.
As the show opens in Edinburgh, why not get with the programme and see for yourself a contemporary take on William Blake’s assertion that ‘joy and woe are woven fine’.
If you cannot make a real-time visit, take a virtual trip instead. You might even catch my contribution to Tweave…

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