Interview with an artist: Julienne Hanson

This month I had the pleasure of catching up with textile artist Julienne Hanson her practice embraces many aspects of contemporary textiles.

She has exhibited work at the annual Festival of Quilts, NEC, Birmingham (2005-2014 inclusive) where, in 2005 she won First Prize in the category 3D Quilts. She has also shown work at venues as diverse as La Sucriere in Lyon, The Mall Galleries in London, Dudley Museum and Art Gallery, The Forum in Norwich, Craft Central in London and Bletchley Park, as well as at local venues in Milton Keynes.

Recently her work was chosen to feature in the Freeweaver SAORI studio in London as part of their exhibition "Restrictions, (un)woven reflections on lockdown". Julienne is a member of the Westbury Fabric and Fibre Guild (WFFG) and will also be showcasing her latest work at the forthcoming exhibition "Rotations and Intersections" which will take place at Westbury on the 3rd & 4th of October.

I caught up with Julienne to find out more .......

Can you tell me a little about your practice - How long have you been working with textiles when & how did it all start?

My textile journey began in the mid-1980s, when I acquired an old-fashioned, fourshaft Harris table loom, so I have been exploring different textile-based disciplines for about 35 years.

To broaden my knowledge and skills, I have gained City and Guilds qualifications in Embroidery (1995), Patchwork and Quilting 1 & 2 (2001, 2006) and Creative Sketchbooks (2011).

My current practice embraces many aspects of contemporary textiles including spinning, weaving, knitting, braiding, felting, embroidery, beadwork, making handmade papers and books, and preparing hand-dyed fabrics.

I stumbled on Saori weaving by accident in 2015, Saori freestyle weaving was invented by Japanese textile artist Misao Jo in the late 1960s. It has now become a worldwide movement. The term ‘Saori’ is a contraction of ‘ori’, the Japanese for ‘weaving’ and ‘sa’, a short form of ‘sai’, which in Zen has the meaning ‘everything has its own individuality’. Saori weaving emphasises creativity and free expression. There are no rules or restrictions. Instead, the weaver immerses herself in the process of weaving, improvising from moment to moment as her heart dictates by selecting yarns and threads that express her true self. Unlike today’s machine-made fabrics, each length of cloth that comes from a Saori loom is unique. 

I was immediately attracted to this freestyle, improvisational and experimental nature of the practice and I now own two Japanese Saori looms!

What initially attracted you to textiles as a medium, how did it capture your imagination?