Profile: Julia Engelhardt

‘When I was young,’ says weaver Julia Engelhardt, ‘I was always making things. And I was interested in architecture: measured and mathematical designs and constructions have always appealed to me and the craft of weaving is the perfect combination of careful planning in one dimension (the ‘warp’ or the threaded yarns on the loom you set up at the start) for the basic structure of the piece which opens up the possibilities for creativity in the ’weft’ (the threads run across the warp) to create the final piece.’

‘The patterned brickwork of a building like Keble College or the exterior of wonderful elliptical Bishop Edward King chapel at Ripon Theological College in Cuddesdon near Oxford with its alternating textures  illustrate the connection between weaving and architecture.  As does the delicate ship-like wooden structure of the nave in Cuddesdon which rises to form a beautifully interwoven ceiling that lets the light in. These features are precise and harmonious in their surroundings and yet are works of art in their own right.’

‘One of my pieces is called The Bricks of Extremadura and was indeed inspired by a trip to Spain.  Many of the beautiful buildings in the  Extremadura region in the heart of old Spain were constructed with distinctive flat long Roman bricks used from Roman times right through the Islamic centuries into the Middle Ages and beyond. Their elongated shape is very elegant, and their thinness makes them highly versatile for building beautifully patterned arched ceilings and vaults.’

‘My weavescapes are often the result of trips to new places or old favourites, especially places with water such as the West Brittany coast or Hamburg  where I was born, with its wide river and the dance of the blue and red cranes in the lively port. Other pieces are inspired by feelings whether sensations, the mood of a moment, a garden or a season, so I create landscapes, mindscapes and soundscapes too.’

‘The painter Paul Klee is a long-time hero of mine. He was a highly influential teacher at Germany’s Bauhaus which sought to bring together art, craft, design and industry.  He taught his students that  ‘a line is a dot that went for a walk’, developed his own colour and form theories and also taught design to the highly successful weaving workshop. His paintings and watercolours are rich in colour variations, lines are important, and his titles add a highly inventive extra dimension.’

‘He was also highly musical and produced a number of ‘polyphonic’ paintings where a number of individual and distinct but overlayed colours ‘sing’ in perfect harmony.  I recently wove my own ‘Polyphony’ although that picks up on the graphic aspect of musical notes as squares, as depicted in medieval musical manuscripts.’

‘Classical music was integral to my childhood.  My ‘variations on a theme’ are now played out on identical warp used for a number of pieces, and I find my own music in the logical, rhythmic and reflective process of weaving.  ‘

JULIA ENGELHARDT
Venue 355: Anthony Eccles Studio, 128 Southfield Road, Oxford, OX4 1PA
12-13, 17, 19-20 May 11am-6pm

First published in The Oxford Times: Oxfordshire Limited Edition magazine May 2018

 

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