Kendall Clarke is an artist working in woven textiles, she has a BA in Modern and Medieval Languages and MA in Textiles. Her work has been exhibited in the UK, Europe, and Japan, including in New Beat at the International Shibori Symposium, Arimatsu, Japan (one of ten artists selected worldwide). She was awarded Highly Commended in the international Vlieseline Fine Art Textiles Award 2019 and won the Cockpit Arts/Arts Society Award later that year. She continues to make work for exhibition and commission from her studio at Cockpit Arts, London.
I make two and three-dimensional woven textiles for both exhibition and installation. My work is concept-led and driven by experimentation with materials. It is characterised by fineness and detail, and is informed by a subtle aesthetic, influenced by the simple beauty of traditional and contemporary Japanese crafts. I use painting, mark-making, erasure, and other techniques together with hand weaving to produce structurally complex pieces that explore surface, layers, and time.
The work I produce is non-functional fine art, with a sound technical and design underpinning, and a strong craft bias and dedication to craft excellence. The commitment to material experimentation and dedicated craft practise, used particularly amongst Japanese textile artists, is a source of inspiration to me in terms of approach and outcome. I often use a combination of traditional and contemporary techniques and materials to produce interesting juxtapositions. I am particularly interested in exploring the potential of paper and paper-like yarns.
Kendall’s work is driven by material experimentation, where the act of making feels like a dialogue between her intentions and the inclination of her materials. Although an idea might come about through research and sketchbook development, the ultimate success of a piece comes from allowing the materials to direct the course the work takes on the loom. Her part in the making is to feel what the materials want to do and to adapt her intentions to make the most of the opportunities they reveal.
The choice of materials by Kendall is guided by several parameters. She may choose them for specific physical characteristics, such as having ‘memory’, being able to hold a form, or for their tactile qualities and texture. A material may be chosen because it has strong associations, such as using Japanese paper yarns when she is working with calligraphic marks. Sensitivity to materials is key for Kendall, she enjoys subverting their obvious character to bring out unexpected qualities, sometimes so much so that they may come to resemble something else.
For this exhibition, “Materiality”, she is working with a material that is relatively new to her and has been prompted by Transition’s collaboration with sponsor, Goodfellow and their extensive catalogue of metals. The pieces use Stainless Steel thread wrapped in silk. This material has memory, meaning that once woven, it will hold its form.
The silk Stainless Steel yarn is used in a new combination with one of her favourite materials, Japanese paper yarns. The Steel lends the paper yarn sculptural qualities and enables it to be manipulated into three-dimensional, textured forms. This dimensionality is created on the loom through weave structures and techniques, rather than by manipulating the fabric once off the loom. These techniques include creating pleats (through two warps woven simultaneously and separated into two layers at various intervals to create a pleat) and the ancient Japanese technique of ‘shibori’, weaving pattern threads into the cloth that when gathered, force the cloth into a three-dimensional form.
“The act of making feels like a dialogue between my intentions and the inclination of my materials”