Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern

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Women Weavers at the Bauhaus

I had the great privilege of visiting the Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern, with my friend Bridget – the one who also taught me to weave. I fell for weaving immediately – deciding that one day, perhaps on my eventual retirement from work, I would ask for, or buy, my own loom. With more time on my hands I felt I really might achieve something marvellous.

Portrait of Bridget

As a Tate member Bridget was able to get me in after work, to see an exhibition of Bauhaus textile designer Anni Albers. Many of you know that the Bauhaus was a radical art school, established by Walter Gropius in 1919. Something you may not know is that his London home – where he came to flee the Nazis – is the Isokon building, which we – Notting Hill Genesis – own. In July English Heritage put a blue plaque on the flats, and Wolf Burchard (front row beige jacket) gave a moving speech about his Great Uncle Walter.

Blue Plaque unveiling event. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer. Isokon Gallery, Lawn Road, London. Monday 9th July 2018.

Anni Albers (1899 – 1994) was a German Jew who became a leading member of the Bauhaus school, and eventually head of the Weaving Workshop. Although she started life as an artist, she was drawn to weaving as it was one of the few areas open to women at the time. She left Germany with her artist husband Joseph in 1933 and went to work at the newly established Black Mountain college in North Carolina. They moved later to Connecticut where their Foundation continues.

Many see Albers as one of the most important female artists of the 20th Century, but perhaps one who is not well enough known due to either her sex, or her medium (textiles) or both. Much of her art work was based on horizontals and verticals (Matisse inspired), often in neutral colours and sometimes in interesting materials such as metallics, cellophane, flax and cotton. Bridget, and some other experienced weavers she spoke to, attested to the amazing technical skills that some of this work required. 

Anni Albers

Bridget was mesmerised and fascinated by this red work “With Verticals”  She said it was exceptionally hard to achieve this effect and she could only guess how it was done. For me it was a beautiful textile. I really liked the way the subtle, almost ghostly, verticals worked against the obvious ones which interrupt and rearrange the twill patterns in the cloth. 

There are many wall hangings to be seen – most of them are like paintings actually – and I felt this was an artist working with yarn rather than a weaver, but of course the distinction between art and craft is rather superficial. I loved the work especially when she created colourful, lumpy weavings.

Black White Yellow, 1925

The Albers made many trips abroad for inspiration, mainly to Mexico, where they sought out ancient buildings, but also bought and studied woven and stitched textiles. There are a number of fascinating and priceless Mexican and other artefacts in the exhibition, and we can see how the strong colours begin to influence her work. 

Mexican textile

It’s almost Christmas. I have knocked off work for about ten days, and I will be very glad of the rest. I have found this year stressful and hard going. I have spent much of my spare time recuperating in the country, and I haven’t done a huge amount of making or blogging. I think things will ease off next year and I am very much looking forward to new and interesting challenges. 

Let me finish with some absolutely joyous jewellery, designed by Anni Albers. Just the sort of present anyone would love to receive, made from ordinary but beautiful things. And may I thank you for your support, your wise advice, following the blog and joining in with the various challenges I have set myself, reading the book, meeting up with me, and may I wish you a very Happy Christmas. 

12 Responses

  1. Joyce

    Merry Christmas Kate to you and your family. Fascinating post…and I love the jewelry…I feel the need now to make something like that!
    Looking forward to your 2019 posts. I was thinking the other day how many ways you have influenced my choices…from no longer drinking alcohol, to knitting old school slippers, and watching House of Cards on Netflix. fun fun. I love setting goals and I have a few at the starting gate, so try not to temp me with too many others will ya! ?.
    No, seriously,keep them coming and I also want sneak peeks of your holiday celebrations, keep that camera clicking. I know I’ll be amazed at what you are creating in the upcoming year ahead.
    Wonderful work your doing socially as well…proud to know you, (if only through the Internet, I’ll take it! ) Have a great day! And a jolly holiday season…recharge cause here comes 2019!

  2. Lesley S

    Many thanks for your great blogs/posts over the past year. I really enjoy reading about what you’ve been making and about the exhibitions you have been to see – I managed to get tickets to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition – thought it was fab. I’m from your part of the world originally (Heywood/Rochdale) but have lived in Brum for many years. Bought your book and loved it. Hope you have a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

    • fabrickated

      Hello Heywood Lesley – amazing! Thanks so much for getting the book, and I am so glad you enjoyed it. Please consider doing a review on the book page, or on Amazon if you get a moment. It would mean a lot to me. I wish you and your family a Very Happy Christmas, and here’s to a productive and Happy 2019.

  3. Anita Steiner

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Like Joyce I love the jewellery, almost better than the woven pieces you have shown here. It was lovely to meet you at your book launch. Take care of yourself, so that you can continue the good work at your job and with your family. All the best for 2019, that it may be less stressful. Best regards also to Nick from Basel Anita and Regula

    • fabrickated

      It was such a delight to meet you this year dear Anita. I agree the jewellery is lots of fun and something we could copy in an idle hour; the tapestries take a little longer. With love to you and Regula for a successful and peaceful 2019.

  4. Mary

    Wishing you a restful holiday with family and friends. I’ve been going like clappers and looking forward to a few days of feet up and quiet family time. Thank you for sharing the photos of the exhibition.

    • fabrickated

      Yes – I have been making presents up the last minute. Now I can relax and enjoy a special meal with the family. Thanks Mary for all your enthusiasm and inspiration during 2018. Sending my love and very best wishes.

  5. Anne Bennett

    I wish you, Nick and all the family a wonderful and peaceful season of rest and chilled vibes – thank you for being such a constant delight, however manic the journey feels XXX

    • fabrickated

      Hello my dear friend Anne – it has been tough from time to time this year, but I have made some positive changes and I am feeling very confident about next year. I am grateful for your friendship, insight and beauty. Thank you Anne. XXX

  6. Annie

    That jewellery is amazing.

    It’s encouraging to read that you’re attending to your work/life balance, so important in a pressurised job. I really appreciate the time you take to maintain your writing, although I’ve not commented for a bit I am still reading.

    Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas.

    • fabrickated

      Dear Annie – please, never feel any pressure about commenting. I always love to hear from you when you do leave a note. I can see that lots of people read the blog which encourages me to keep up a flow of posts.

      I don’t know what will happen on creative front next year – life is always interesting! I wish you a Very Happy Christmas, and a super 2019.

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