Here is your Festival Guide - which lists talks, workshops, activities, exhibitions, performances and more, happening in Blackburn throughout the weekend.
'offcut-tuft' by Anna Ray
During my first visit to Forbo, I picked up a pile of tangled, pale grey, voluminous threads from the shop floor, which were the last offcuts of the tufting process. They had been knotted by hand at one end by an operator, in bundles of about one hundred lengths. From the discovery of these threads, I have developed a series of artworks using the same yarn. The Aquafil synthetic crimp yarn changes from a fine, silky appearance when just off the cone, becoming bulky and fluffy after being steamed. In one area of the factory, the mezzanine, there is a library of left-over yarn and three smaller tufting machines. Here I found a container piled high with tufted carpet top cloth in an array of different colours. These were samples created by one of the operators at the factory, which were no longer needed and had been set aside for recycling. I have incorporated these top cloths in the first artwork from this new series, entitled 'offcut-tuft'.
'offcut-cord' by Anna Ray
The designers at Forbo have created a new carpet tile range called Tessera Chroma, which uses a palette of uplifting hues that can be installed in different combinations. The yarn is larger than life and becomes bulky when steamed. My ancestors were Huguenot, silk weavers and fancy trimmings manufacturers in Spitalfields in the 1700s. This new body of work at Forbo is a series of elaborate yarns inspired by traditional Passementerie and the machinery, processes and materials at the factory. 'Offcut-cord' resembles the embellishments created for furnishing and clothing from antiquity to the present, from all over the world: From the tents of nomadic tribes to the grand interiors of stately homes. It is a vibrant, celebratory work, fitting for a festival. View the artwork being undone in the studio in a performance here.
'offcut-ends' by Anna Ray
Changeover is when the threads are heat sealed together to tuft continuously from one colour to the next to produce different coloured top cloth. It is a lovely process to witness as the arrangement of lined up threads, one colour next to another, create hanging, curved forms. Once the threads are bonded, a fine fringing is left at the end, ready to be cut off and discarded. As the different coloured yarns transition, the offcut cloths that are generated have triangular or stepped patterns within the tufted surface. The systematic, linear arrangement of threads in the changeover and tufting process has inspired the third piece in the series, 'offcut-ends'. This artwork also refers to a different textile process, the set up of a weaving loom, where a new thread can be tied on by hand if an end happens to snap from strain.
'offcut-sample' by Anna Ray, 'Sample tuft machine at Forbo Flooring' by Anna Ray
The final work in this series is made from top cloth created for me by one of the operators at Forbo. Ian specialises in making up samples for new carpet tile ranges. He works on a vintage Sample Tuft machine, often tufting two different colours of yarn at once, side by side. The Sample Tuft machine is an atmospheric object - an antique - it has evidently been working well for decades. It has a plaque on one side of it, showing that it was made in Blackburn. As part of the creation of the cloth beads for 'offcut-tuft', I asked Ian if he could create some samples for me using some of the very brightly coloured yarn that was left over in the library. This small wall piece 'offcut-sample' is made from what was left of the length that Ian produced for me. The cloth is supported underneath by cardboard yarn cones. The changeover from one colour to the next is visible in the staggered lines as each colour meets.
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