Raw Material 2: Textiles and Fibre Arts in Art Therapy

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“I am inviting people to recall sentences/words that were said to them that they felt impacted negatively on their life or limited them in some way. I invite people to pass those unwanted negative words on to me and I will “repair” them through darning, patching, and embroidery”. My Repair Project, Violet Shirran


Below is a literature review and art therapy thesis by recent art therapy graduate Alex Burr. Alex Burr highlight the use of textiles in art therapy. If you would like to reference Alex’s thesis, check out Harvard Referencing Style for referencing a thesis.

LIT REVIEW PLAYING WITH FABRIC BY ART THERAPY GRADUATE ALEX BURR
PLAYING WITH FABRIC: THE EXPERIENCE OF TEXTILES IN ART THERAPY BY ALEX BURR

“Cloth can be considered an intimate overlay that wraps both our bodies and home with layers of a story. As a method of mark making, sewing allows us to tuck into tactile relationships with fabric as a companion to our lives. Instinctive and improvised stitching can embellish clothing and domestic items, so that each becomes like an entry in a lived-in journal”. Pamela Whitaker

“Textiles portray a sense of ritual, making special everyday places through a quality of adornment and presence. Cloth enriches people, architecture, furniture, and objects with significance. Binding, stitching, knotting, and layering thought into a weave of cloth, conjures memory and the passage of time. The drawing of threads through cloth, the mending of frayed edges, ad the matting together of fibres are all physical experiences that translate a narrative into material form. Cloth is intimate, another skin, a boundary and a caress. It designates function and also entwines a story. Encouraging the inclusion of fabric and fibre arts within art therapy offers new ways of exploring stories as they are told not only through words, but through the rhythm of going in and out of strands of meaning”. Pamela Whitaker

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“Textiles remember. This is not something that we necessarily ask of them, nor is it something we can divert them from doing. They do it regardless. And the memory of the textile is unremittingly democratic: moments of joy and tragedy are recorded on the surface and embedded in into the structure of the cloth, without permission and often without intention. Textiles remember, in part, because they are hostage to their own fragility. Unlike that of metal or stone, the life span of textiles is not dissimilar to that of our own bodies: newness gradually replaced by wear and tear until worn out” (Jessica Hemmings, The Textile Reader, 2012).

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Unravelling

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Photographs Above: Unravelling weaving and textiles for the Irish Association of Creative Arts Therapists symposium display at the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

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Photographs Above: Folded Paper, Felting Fleece and Bandages in Response to The Revealing Image by Joy Schaverien. A group assembling of artworks reflecting the embodied image.