Christiana Vardakou's blog post about the Anni Albers exhibition at the tate

After my trip to South East Asia, I decided the next step was to move back home, to Athens, Greece and start a new chapter there. Travelling around South East Asia made me realise how much I missed home. The daily life in Greece, the weather, the food, my family. Yes, London has many opportunities but I felt like that just wasn't enough for me anymore. 

So, I flew back to London to gather all my things and arrange for them to be sent to Athens, I said goodbye to my friends there, I visited a few exhibitions and I moved to Athens! (more about this in the following posts)

I was in London for three days, and I couldn't wait to visit the Anni Albers exhibition at the Tate Modern. An exhibition all about weaving. It felt like a sign - before travelling I was not interested in weaving, I went to Asia, I learnt how to weave, I fell in love with it, decided to move back to Athens and start a business where I'd be weaving and first thing I learn when I fly back - there is a weaving exhibition at the Tate. 

I've cried in two exhibitions all my life. The first time was at the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A, the second time was at the Anni Albers one.

'Weaving is an example of a craft which is many sided. Besides surface qualities, such as rough and smooth, dull and shiny, hard and soft, it also includes colour, and , as the dominating element, texture... Like any craft, it may end in producing useful objects, or it may rise to the level of art.

 

"Threads can be untangled, straightened out, aligned, and the weaving can continue

Anni Albers was one of the most influential textile artists of the 20th century, a leader of the modern weaving movement. For me she was the Queen of Textiles. She combined Craft with Art and Design. Her work was groundbreaking, beautiful, unique and modern. She was a leading pioneer of the twentieth century modernism, part of the Bauhaus school and movement. As a weaver she connected one of the oldest human cultural techniques with the modern artistic language of her time. 

She distinguished between her functional textiles she designed for architectural or interior spaces and her weavings that were "only to be looked at" - hanging from a wall like a piece of art. She was the first to do this. She was determined to make weaving modern defying any assumptions about what 'the modern' should look and feel like. Her most important points of reference were painters such as Klee and Kandinsky, and she wanted her work to be thought of as art. 

She worked with geometric patterns and a radical use of colour. She experimented with materials non-stop and inspired a cultural reassessment of fabrics as an art form. In her late life she also worked with printmaking, using lithography, embossing and silk-screening. She explored all possibilities of materials and tools. 

 

Before leaving London, I also visited "Loop". Loop is the most amazing knitting shop. I used to work there for three years while studying at Chelsea. Most of the yarn there is natural fibres and a lot is hand-dyed yarn from small independent dyers around the world. The shop is full of lovely things from haberdashery, to beautiful books and magazines, to handmade pieces by textile designers. There is also knit night every Thursday, and lots of classes from beginners through to master classes taught by visiting teachers. 

It's a magical place, full of colour, possibility, smiles and textures.  It will always have a very special place in my heart. 

I learnt how to knit here, how to be confident sharing ideas and helping customers, I started my natural dyeing experimenting after reading a book about it, sitting at the sofa, after my lunch break. I learnt how to do the post, I answered emails and phone calls, I realised I like doing admin work! I met wonderful people, both customers and colleagues, I made friends - friends that I loved talking about new projects with! My boss was the one that kept telling me stories about travel and textiles and I think that played a big role in me deciding to go to South East Asia after university. 

If you are ever in London - you must visit Loop, I'm sure you'll fall in love with it just like I did. 

Next blog post will be about moving back to Athens, visiting exhibitions and going to textile talks!

Have a lovely week - stay at home and be safe,

xx

Christiana

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