Building With Thread

The New Craftsmen is delighted to present ‘Building With Thread’, a presentation of new work from hand weaver Catarina Riccabona, which will run alongside Anni Albers’ first major UK retrospective at Tate Modern this Autumn.

Ancient yet universal, weaving has long been confined to the sphere of a domestic craft, labelled feminine and declared too unrefined to be considered an art form. Meanwhile the globalisation of the trade has caused the value of fabric to decrease dramatically over the past century, resulting in poor quality material deprived of the skill and knowledge passed down from generations of hand weavers.

Catarina Riccabona seeks to dispel these preconceptions about weaving through her considered, refined practice, propelling her work into the realm of fine art while crafting sustainable, ethically-produced textile pieces.

Catarina crafts all of her pieces by hand from her studio in South East London Catarina crafts all of her pieces by hand from her studio in South East London

A graduate of Central Saint Martins, where she studied textiles, Catarina works on a traditional loom from her studio in South East London. Her pieces are meticulously created using methods that involve vigorous planning and calculations, not unlike the construction of edifices or other structures.

For the new collection, Catarina has woven five luxury throws from UK alpaca, as well as four wall panels using paper yarn which mark an important departure for her work, from pieces imbued with functionality to those with an entirely artistic purpose.

German textile artist Anni Albers has been particularly influential to Catarina throughout her career, and a quote from Albers’ book ‘On Weaving’ helped to inform her new work.

Albers believed that placing too much emphasis on colour or quality of the yarn distracts from the process of weaving, allowing weavers to become dependant on these elements, instead of creating interest through their choice of weave structures and choosing yarn and colours that would would complement these.

"We [often] find an exaggerated emphasis on fancy yarns to make up for a thread construction that is dull. In fact, this shift from structural effects to predominantly yarn effects today holds back a textile development that should centre on construction as a focal point.” Anni Albers, ‘On Weaving’.

“The common denominator with all of these pieces has been rediscovering the Anni Albers quote, I was struck by how meaningful it still is to me today”, Catarina reflected.

"Catarina is a modern master in the art of weaving, with a remarkable eye for colour and texture that is irresistible" - Jonathan Reed, Studio Reed

She sought out quality, sustainably-sourced material for her new pieces, such as the British Alpaca used in her new range of throws, but adhered to a much more refined colour palette, so as not to distract from the structure of the weave.

Always conscious of the controversy that so often surrounds the production of fabric in modern times, much of the material Catarina uses in her work is reclaimed and recycled, including yarn sourced from her grandmother’s collection, who was a keen knitter.

Catarina also strives to break away from the feminine perception of weaving, emphasising how the complex process is often overlooked when it is labelled a ‘domestic craft’. Focusing on the weave structure allows her to produce work grounded in technique, yet also representative of her unique aesthetic.

Catarina's new range of throws crafted from UK-sourced Alpaca Catarina's new range of throws crafted from UK-sourced Alpaca

Her approach to her work is also incredibly instinctual, allowing the process to define the final look of her work. While the setup is laborious, Catarina does not sketch out any patterns beforehand, enabling the design to change and evolve as she works.

“Of course there are many different ways of working in weave”, explains Catarina. “But for me [Albers's] words are still very meaningful today. This current series of throws is my attempt at interpreting [her] theory.”

Visit our Mayfair store to discover 'Building With Thread' first hand (the show runs until 31st October 2018), or discover Catarina's work on our website.