I always wanted to paint. I came to weaving later in life. It is now a passion.
Weaving, like painting, has been practiced for millennia. It was traditionally thought of as ‘just’ a craft. Not so very long ago, painting used to be taught as a craft, too.
Philip King Photography
I explore the painterly and sculptural qualities of yarns and fibres within the relatively constraining context of my shaft looms. My pieces evolve intuitively and I use yarns and fibres as lines of paint, each with its own colour as well as textural characteristics.
For me, the shaft looms I use provide a tensioned ‘canvas’ in the warp necessary to construct a cloth but I allow yarns to breathe with an often very loosely woven weft. Once released from the loom, the looseness softens or even dissolves traditional angularity of weaves and allows for natural movement, fluidity, expression which are all key to my work. I often leave the materials I use hanging off the sides as tidying them away would take away a lot of the natural flux and energy of the pieces. I also think it is interesting for people to see what the materials are and how each one ‘behaves’ when unconstrained.
Much of my subject matter is connected to nature which is full of fluctuating shapes and irregular formations such trees, seas, clouds, even red ants’ heaps. They may be in constant flux but create an impression of steadiness, coherence. I sacrifice the traditional stability of cloth for maximum expressiveness whilst maintaining this coherence, trying to weave pieces of art that feel like objects coming alive.
Artist Julia Engelhardt in conversation with Lizzie Collins, Owner and Director of Zuleika Gallery,
Woodstock; published online May 2022
Profile by Esther Lafferty, first published in The Oxford Times: Oxfordshire Limited Edition magazine May 2018
‘Julia Engelhardt Wins the OFA Competition’, published in OxMagazine, online only in March/April 2020 due to the pandemic
Online Oxford Festival of the Arts programme for 2020, not printed due to the pandemic