More studio postings

If I have learned anything since starting these blog interviews it is that TSG members are incredibly varied in their areas of interests. This interview with Bobby Britnell, well known teacher and author, proves my point. Bobby is the current Chair of the group but has been an active member for many years and is fully involved with the organisation of the DIS/rupt exhibition. However it was with her artist hat firmly on I asked about her current work.

My first question was to ask Bobby about her piece for DIS/rupt.

I am exploring the DIS/ruption of traditions. Ugandan bark cloth, the world’s oldest non-woven fabric from the Mutuba Tree has seen a demise for many years now, due to Arab traders and colonists causing the bark cloth production and trade to deteriorate. Extensive deforestation and the demonization of bark cloth by Christianity and Islam also has had a profound effect on production. The fact that it not only has a history but is so enshrined in both cultural and spiritual beliefs makes it an extraordinary cloth with a story to tell.

Can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?

I am exploring through the life of the tree how we need to reinvent new ways for its existence by using words such as REINVENT, REIMAGINE, REDISCOVER, REVALUE, RECREATE, REAPPRECIATE to path the way. I am making a symbolic tree incorporating these words, with a few other twists and turns. But people will need to come and see what these are for themselves!


What are the materials and processes that you are working with?

I am currently just using the bark cloth and hand stitching with raffia which I have brought over from Uganda.


Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?

It is over 2 metres in height, so as you can imagine, it will not be easy to photograph!!!

Is the finished piece to be free standing or wall mounted?

It will be free-standing. I may also have another exhibit ~ a screen showing images of its production.


What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?

Bark cloth needs to find its place once again not only in the Uganda marketplace but on the global market. I would like to inspire visitors to explore the history of the material, its status in Uganda and how different markets are beginning to see a way forward with what I feel is a remarkable cloth. I really just want to develop an awareness of bark cloth, its versatility and wide variety of uses.

You are one of the TSG tutors running workshops during the DIS/rupt exhibition, briefly, what can your students expect from the class?

I will be introducing students to a few of the ways in which bark cloth can be used creatively as a material like other more mainstream materials. Bark cloth is in fact one of the world’s oldest non-woven materials from Uganda. It is not commonly used in this country and this workshop will ‘disrupt’ peoples’ normal working methods by introducing students to this unique cloth. We will employ traditional techniques from Uganda alongside more conventional techniques. A fun course for beginners and more advanced students

Bobby has been working with textiles since leaving school. She currently runs workshops from her studio in South Shropshire as well teaching and exhibiting countrywide and abroad.

I am offering two half day courses

Workshop Title ‘Barking up the Right Tree’

Tutor:  Bobby Britnell
Date   Fri May 19 2017
Time. 1.30 – 4.00.
Venue Centre for Science & Arts, 13 Lansdown, Stroud GL5 1BB

Workshop Title ‘Barking up the Right Tree’    

Tutor:  Bobby Britnell
Date: Thursday May 18 2017
Time. 10.00 – 12.30.
Venue Centre for Science & Arts, 13 Lansdown, Stroud GL5 1BB

All materials and equipment will be provided for this course at a small charge of £5 per pack
FEE: £35 SIT select members £30

That all sounds wonderful Bobby and I am really looking forward to seeing the work. I think the versatility of the bark cloth is quite amazing and I’m sure will be of enormous interest to visitors to the exhibition. Anyone interested to know more about Bobby’s work can check out a recent blog post by Textile here

All information and booking details at SIT select 2017

More information about the Textile Study Group and its members and details about DIS/rupt can be found at the group website. TSG

@SITselect, #selectfestival2017 @textile_study #DISrupt


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