Fiona J Sperryn

Recurring themes in my work include close observation of the natural environment, biodiversity, evolution and sustainability.  There is personal experience embedded in each piece of artwork.  I love to draw from life or my own photographs and the ideas behind the work come from being outdoors, in contact with an environment and the elements.

My love of weave started at age seven when I received my first loom, but it wasn’t until after a Textile Design degree at University College Falmouth and during an MA at the Royal College of Art that I found the perfect tool for combining my love of drawing with weave – a jacquard loom.

My studio loom is now a hand-weave digital jacquard loom.  This allows me to translate the textures and lines captured in my drawings, whilst retaining the sense of movement within them and freshness of the mark-making.  The hand-weave technique also permits the combination and control of a wide variety yarns.

The haptic nature of the creative process is very important to me and I love handling the yarns and blending colour combinations.  The weave structures and code-like patterns which are used to control the movement of the yarns on the loom are fascinating and I am forever creating new ones.  Colours are mixed and tones generated by combining threads and are shown on the surface of the weave or hidden within in it according to the digital sequences produced.  Each project requires a new selection of yarns and I try to use a high percentage of industry waste yarns, ethically sourced, organic and recycled fibres.

Released from the tension of the loom, the cloth takes on a new life.  The innate properties of the yarn take over.  The chosen weave structures might allow for movement of the fibres in certain areas creating undulations or texture in the woven surface, whilst retaining a more rigid arrangement in others.  Finishing techniques can be used to enhance these effects; unwoven threads might be cut and shrunk, surfaces made to shine or lines blurred.

All pieces are hand-woven jacquard tapestry, created on a TC2 digital loom.

Original drawings are digitally scanned, layered and developed using Photoshop software.  The image is simplified into areas to which weave structures or ‘patterns’ are allocated.  These are often created especially for a project, each combination of yarns and their behavioural properties being unique to a piece.  This artwork is simplified to produce a digital code of black and white squares, which represent the lifting warp threads.  The loom is dressed with a warp, which is the framework of threads (or ‘ends’) through which the weft will be built up row by row.  A jacquard loom allows for the lifting of any chosen combination of individual warp threads and as these are raised, the shuttles are thrown by hand from one side of the cloth to the other, through the gap and therefore over and under different threads on each row (or ‘pick’), and slowly the picture develops.  The artist might repeat a sequence of say, eight weft colours, which appear on the surface or disappear to the middle or the back of the piece as required by the design.  The hand-weave process allows for colour to be intuitively altered as the pieces grows, making a unique piece of woven art.

Galerie Thore Krietmeyer, Berlin – Isomorphology – Riddles of Form, with Gemma Anderson,

Royal College of Art, London – The Show 2009

The Gallery Space, Bloomsbury, London – Off the Wall, miniatures exhibition

Royal College of Art, London – John Norris Wood Natural Forms Drawing Prize

Royal College of Art, London – Man Group Drawing Prize