This Christmas, Chalk Wovens will be selling their unique contemporary woven goods at the Selvedge Fair on Saturday 2 December at St Mary's Church, Wyndham Place, York St, London, W1H 1PQ. Founded by woven textile designer, Kerry Stokes and ceramist, Richard bush, Chalk Wovens make contemporary, smart, woven products that are designed and woven in the UK.
We hear about Kerry's story in textiles....
My bedroom curtains when I was 3 until I was 7, were of woven slubby white cotton. They spanned the floor to the ceiling. My mother had sewn a vibrant decorative woven ribbon (maybe mercerised cotton) in reds, pinks and white, just above the hem. The curtains let in rather too much light, so it was sometimes a challenge to get to sleep in the summer, but the effect, which was light and fresh, complimented the pink, white and grey stripy wallpaper. Our dining room curtains at this time were a satin weave and made beautifully shimmery folds which I just couldn’t resist snipping with scissors one day…
Can you put into words what you love about textiles?
The structures and colours are so vast and varied. They’re not only visual but involve all our senses. The smell of wet silk and the rustle of taffeta—just two examples of many more.
If you make textiles, where is your most inspiring space/place to create?
I love gardens and the outdoors, so enjoy my workshop in the garden. The structure and colour of plants are a great source of inspiration.
What has inspired you recently?
I’ve just been to Sweden to stay with an old friend, and we revisited Carl and Karin Larsson’s house. There’s an exhibition nearby of Karin’s work which is predominantly textile based. I appreciate her work more than ever. The woven door curtain with its symbolism and unique structure as well as a dazzlingly modern chair (so modern the carpenter delivered it in the dark—he thought it too ugly to show in daylight)—just a couple of the projects she worked on.
I was there during the Midsummer festivities—the dancing around the Midsummer poles in traditional costume—which can also be seen in Carl Larsson’s paintings of 100 years ago.
What is your most cherished textile, and why?
My grandmother designed and made clothes in the 1920s and 30s and there is one dress I still have which I think is most special. It’s a cream silk and the top part is a zigzag print in cream and coffee colours—very Deco in flavour. I used to wear it, but now it’s stored away.
Where did you learn your craft?
I learnt a great deal as I was growing up from my grandmother and mother. Then I went to West Surrey College (Farnham Art College) to study weave design. But I carried on learning as I began to sell my designs and I’ve taught at quite a few colleges (Central St. Martin’s, University of Brighton and others.) Teaching is also a great way to learn!
Apart from Selvedge, what else do you sell?
We have quite a few stockists—galleries and shops. We sell online and at various fairs.
Can you tell us a bit about your neighbourhood/community? Why is it so special?
Brighton is an inspiring place to live. We have many studios and independent shops, and it has the greatest Arts festival in England. It is surrounded by beautiful landscapes and sea, as well as being relatively close to London.
Can you tell us something about one of your loyal customers?
Solva Mill is a fantastic weaving mill where they weave runners and traditional Welsh blankets. They sell our range of throws in their beautifully curated shop in St. David’s as well as at their mill. Cushions, lamp shades and other products. I have been working on a range of new colours for their traditional blankets, designed to work well with our more modern designs. Anna and Tom are the brilliant owners of Solva Mill.
Images courtesy of Chalk Wovens
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Don't miss out on this year's Selvedge Christmas Fair on Saturday 2 December 2023, 12:00 - 18:00 GMT at St Mary's Church, Wyndham Place, York St, London, W1H 1PQ.
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