East and west, warp and weft

Blake Griffiths

1 September 2021

Hyderabad; photo: Blake Griffith

Blake Griffiths reflects on the textile that emerged from his journey east.

Like many artists of the textile tradition, and for whatever reason, I go east.

The dye pot boils. Chickens run underfoot. A village warps a loom around me.

Spinning thread synchronous to cooking sambar.
Tying warps to planting seeds.
A beating loom to prayer.

A beneficiary of privilege, I am welcomed to watch; I gain a deeper understanding of complex textile techniques that undeniably influence my practice. But further to simply learning a process, I receive a glimpse into the deep, collective traditions of the weavers of the east; a tradition that is undeniably not my own.

By my own doing, stuck between West and East.
Looking, not knowing.
Squished between a warp and weft.

Travelling east so far, and for whatever reason, I wind up back west.

The heat blisters. Emu’s search for water. A strangled ecosystem wails a plea for water.

I return with cloth transmitting a village story.
I make a cut and strip by strip,
pattern meets plain cloth.

I remember the stacks of ikat fabric held within the Kolyagudam textile emporiums. Tonnes and tonnes of vibrant, intricate fabric waiting to fulfill its intention. Each strip is paired with its opposition. The density of the handloom meets the lightness of the machine. Binding the hardwearing and the delicate.

A grapple between West and East
Comfort in discomfort.
Wrapped up in this way and that.

Blake Griffith, Inhibitive Thoughts

Weaving is directional, but for whatever reason, the compass ends up breaking.

My back aches. The warp breaks, but I keep beating cloth until I feel release.

My own origins, somewhere in this weaving.
A withdrawal of the senses,
East and West now inside out.

Weaving is often used to transmit origin or creation stories, and I become increasingly interested in my own. I am sure my body knows the answer but there are many roadblocks on this path. My thoughts become inhibitive to this endeavour, and I log them through embroidery onto earth-stained cloth.

An hour neighbouring insanity.
Unconstructive meditation.
Reaching somewhere nearby everywhere.

I find myself without a loom, but for whatever reason, it persists.

In drawings. In thoughts. The unworked weaver’s constant appeal.

So, I weave with whatever I find.
A woven framework
pervading all investigation.

I search for analogies between the stories of my own upbringing and the woven form. David’s spear, the weaver’s beam, the woven panels of the congregational tent. I find solace in the fables, but they don’t feel like body posture on the loom. I draw the hand of the weaver and postulate their puppetry.

Between apparatus and body,
Relaxing the tension,
For now just bound by something.

About Blake Griffiths

Blake Griffiths is an artist living on Wilyakali, Barkindji Country (Broken Hill), New South Wales. Working predominately with textiles, Blake uses the woven form as a framework to discuss opposing ideas and interrogate pertinent social issues. Blake has a background in art education and is the current manager of the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery. Visit blakegriffiths.com

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