The Cloths of Chalk, Clay + Shell

The Cloths of Chalk, Clay + Shell

The three new works for The New Craftsmen at Collect 2023 see the deepening of Imogen’s original experiments into hand-blending a spectrum of naturally-shaded rare-breed British fleeces for a subtle, painterly effect in the final hand spun yarn.

An echo of the matte and powdered ancient landscape can be felt in the final works; a journey along the Pilgrim Path, speaking the languages of weather, coast, camouflage and murmuration, woven into works of contemporary craft. 

The Cloths of Chalk, Clay + Shell are a continuation of a creative collaboration and artistic relationship with acclaimed ceramicist Elaine Sheppard Bolt, and her new collection, Sussex Weft.

These narrative textiles combine structural elements of traditional cloth weaving with heritage techniques of tapestry weaving, to work large drapery panels that speak to texture and tone; the implicit quietude of the coastal landscape of East Sussex, where they are woven. 

These weavings are studies in painterly washes of the natural pigment found in the blending of rare-breed British fleeces, golden flax linens (in various states of retting and sun-whitening); textured nettle, and luminous wild silk. 

Craft ethics are implicit in the studio; organic and biodynamic fleece is used, as is fleece from small holdings and domestic flocks, sourced from mythic landscapes such as Wales, Orkney and Cornwall. Most importantly, the chalk-white signature of the South Downs landscape itself is found in a local rescue flock. 

Originally explored at Lokal+, Helsinki (2019), Elaine created experimental ceramics, Weft Vessels, in response to Imogen’s textiles from her debut exhibition The Selkie, ONCA (2018), which explored raw-material practice, texture and craft techniques in the context of mythology and threshold folk stories of the sea.

Imogen has trained and practiced exclusively in textile crafts for over twenty-five years. In addition to her studio practice, Imogen lectures internationally, and is a researcher and writer in the areas of craft, culture and heritage. 

Her woven textiles were shortlisted for both the Cræftiga Award (2018) and the Neptune Craft Initiative (2018). Imogen was awarded the national arts commission Gypsy Maker 5, Romani Cultural & Arts Company, Arts Council Wales (2022), and DYCP, Arts Council England (2022). 

Imogen was invited to the Heritage Crafts EDI Subcommittee in 2022, to represent British Romani, Gypsy and Traveller crafts makers, and advocate for successful inclusion onto the Red List of Endangered Crafts, 2023.

For enquiries about acquiring these works, please contact The New Craftsmen

Collect 2023, Somerset House; The New Craftsmen, ‘Grown in Britain’, curated by Sarah Myerscough + Kathy Lacour, gallery sales by Amy Fletcher. Works pictured include those by artists Elaine Sheppard Bolt, Eleanor Lakelin, Aimee Betts + Gareth Neal, SASA Works. Photo by Amy Fletcher. Above photo features additional work by Pip Rice, Gareth Neal + Annemarie O’Sullivan, Bibbings + Hensby, Caroline Sharp, Hilary Burns + Takahashi McGil.

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