Company Wall Hangings

Company Collection

Not content with having been involved with textiles for nearly 900 years, the Weavers’ Company regularly commissions pieces of textile art, reflecting the modern industry and craft of woven textiles. Each piece hangs in the Company’s offices, before going to the Victoria and Albert Museum as a gift, where it joins our previous commissions in the collection of contemporary textile art.

In response to the Covid 19 pandemic, and a lack of access to conventional looms for many students and graduates, the Company wished to commission a wall hanging which was to be made using any off loom or constructed techniques to reflect this period. The latest commission by Jonathan Mackinnon is shown here, to fulfil the brief he took inspiration from his own past and a desire for sustainability. Denim therefore became a natural choice for him to use which was combined with selvedge tape and deadsock yarn and fabric to create this bold and impactful piece.

Previous Commissions

Prue Jessop 1997

This wall hanging is constructed from fabric woven from two different warps.

The ground cloth is a close set 4 thread organzine silk, with linen and foil wrapped weft yarns.  The organza cloth is a black raw silk warp, with tin-copper and enamel coated copper wire weft.  The metallic foil yarn has also been used to create two gold bands that echo the shimmering cloth behind it.  All the fabric was power-woven on shuttle looms at Whitchurch Silk Mill, Hants.

The central design element of this piece was inspired by the reflective and sculptural qualities of metal, and its introduction into traditional cloth by mechanical means rather than on the hand-loom.

The choice of colours came from a number of sources, all of which were considered in relation to the furnishings and artefacts found adjacent to where the piece was to hang at The Worshipful Company of Weavers’ headquarters.  Greens and browns were extracted from the 17th century Upper Bailiff’s chair and original 17th century Hall wooden doors;  yellowy gold from the walls and furniture.

In certain lights the linen and silk cloth gives a subtle sheen, as does the velvet upholstery of the chair.  The density and opacity of this cloth was used to create a border, to give the hanging weight and a sense of tradition.

Against this backdrop the floating metal is attached.  Electrically conductive, sculptural and scrunchable, this pure copper wire is normally found in car motors.  Although visually reminiscent of the extravagences of 18th century cloths of gold, this wall hanging is an example of the extent of existing loom capability available at Whitchurch Silk Mill today.  Designed with pure metal, fine silks and woven on a power-loom, the making of this piece has pushed shuttle weaving to its limit.

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Prue Jessop

Kana Watanabe 2000

This Wall Hanging is inspired by both old, ruined buildings and modern buildings, mixing the elements of past and present for future direction, and was hand woven in double cloth so that each side is a different colour.

Kana played with the technical process and the notion of construction and destruction in these pieces.  Some parts are double cloth, some are woven into one dense cloth, some are non-woven, some parts of double cloth are cut away to be sheer, single cloth.  By doing this, the visual image as a whole is diffused, but at the same time constructed.  This paradox leads to a futuristic image.

The choice of colours and materials also came from the mixture of old and modern buildings.  Blue and silver are taken from the new building image; gold, copper, mauve, deep red, green and light green are taken from old architecture.

The ground cloth is composed of Lurex metallic yarn as the warp, with silk, cotton and polyester as weft yarns.  The square patterns are of mohair, viscose and Madera metallic embroidery yarn.  The metallic surface with the soft mohair combination represents the artificial present and the organic past.

The lighting is also a very important element of this work.  It reinforces the shine and shimmer quality which can be interpreted as either traditional or futuristic.

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Kana Watanabe

Laura Thomas 2002

Driven by the craft of weaving, this wall hanging is a typical example of Laura Thomas’ approach to her work: an ongoing passion and practical curiosity for woven structures and techniques. Laura particularly enjoys exploring intricate hand weave processes that are not industrially viable, such as the block of double-cloth pleats employed in this piece. A combination of copper and nylon was selected as the weft yarn for the pleats, to give them stability and help to emphasise their contours, and for its reflective qualities, to allow a little sparkle under light. The offices of the Weavers’ Company and its coat of arms influenced and inspired the colour, they were chosen to be sympathetic to the surroundings of the Company’s office and a bold statement. The use of the highlight band of scarlett is a very characteristic feature of Laura’s use of colour, she often works with neutral or understated base colours adding a shot of colour to draw the eye.

V&A Page Laura's Website
Laura Thomas

Ismini Samanidou 2004

Ismini Samanidou was born in Athens and studied at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art in London. Her art practice focuses on weaving, drawing and photography and her work is led by an intuitive and experimental approach to materials and techniques. Samanidou is particularly interested in exploring the way in which textiles can extend historical, political and geographical boundaries whilst remaining a common autonomous language of making and means of expression across the world.

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Ismini Samanidou

Helen Giles 2007

Helen’s sculptural textiles are inspired by a fascination with shadows, inspired by the urban architecture around Brixton. Shadow Pleats was woven on an industrial Jacquard loom as a double cloth, using copper wire and polyester yarn. The cloth was manipulated by hand before being mounted on an acrylic jig prior to immersion in an industrial copper electro-forming vat. During this electro-deposition process the cloth became thicker and rigid, contrasting with the delicate polyester cloth, which still retained its fabric qualities.

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Helen Giles

Rita Parniczky 2010

Rita has long had an interest in looking into hidden worlds and exposing them in various mediums. For her hand woven, X-Ray series, she developed a technique to create work that is a reflection of a different way of thinking, resulting in an experimental form that explores unique effects on the warp itself.  In order to reveal it, and show what happens underneath the surface, Rita started to work with transparent monofilament threads.  Normally, the vertical warp threads are concealed by horizontal weft threads.  However in X-Ray series this hidden world becomes visible.  The technique forces the warp threads out of their usual place drawing intricate patterns, which are emphasised when exposed to light.  Installations with sunlight or artificial light present a visual transformation, whereby the nylon monofilament appears as glass or ice.

V&A Page Rita's Website

George Morgan 2015

George had an interest in Constructivist art and this piece was influenced by Erwin Hauer, who was a pioneer in Modular Constructivism and made large scale simulated woven architectural screens and walls.

The different techniques he used were laser-cutting, routing and printing. By using these techniques he was able to play around with 2D, 3D and the areas in between. With laser cutting he could also experiment with layering and cut-through pieces that allowed light to shine through or other patterns to be revealed.

The piece itself is held together by a sheet of birch faced plywood which acts as the motherboard, this hides from view repetitive patterns which were cut by hand using a router and chisel. These patterns were basically a series grooves that were used to locate the ‘Bridging Frames’, which housed the weave. Access openings were required to facilitate finger access to hand weave the strips of Hemlock veneer. This veneer was soaked in water to make it more malleable. The bridging frames were laser cut from plywood which were then held together using hardwood dowels. The fifteen ‘blocks’ were again constructed from laser cut plywood and then glued together

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