SIT stands for Stroud International Textiles. We’re an arts organisation that profiles the work of nationally and internationally known artists, as well as emerging new talent. We like to broaden our textile thinking to show how exciting and innovative textiles and contemporary craft design can be.
Textiles have a rich tradition which SIT supports, but you’re also keen to nurture innovation. How are you doing this and what’s exciting you technologically right now?
We support innovation and innovative thinking in many ways and we’re particularly keen to exhibit and profile the work of new designer makers who use new materials and are pushing the boundaries of their craft. For example, we’re currently involved with a really exciting collaboration between Falmouth University’s ‘Autonomatic Research’ project and the large, locally-based manufacturing company Renishaw plc to create new craft using their latest technology. The artist meets the engineer!
You’re based in Stroud but your reach goes well beyond the local area. What projects is SIT supporting at the moment?
Oh, there are so many. One is called ‘Z Twist’, a collaboration with Somerset Art Works aimed at fostering cross-regional working and featuring four Artists in Residency. Then there’s an exciting partnership with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in which artist Matthew Harris will create new pieces inspired by working alongside the composer Howard Skempton as he writes a new score. (‘Field Notes’ will be performed in Stroud on March 29th 2014) And alongside those, there’s our work with national universities including Falmouth, Central St Martin’s and Hereford College of Art and Design whose students will be exhibiting at Select in May. It’s all fantastic stuff.
And it’s not just about textiles either is it?
No, SIT is about new design, new ideas and raising the profile of contemporary crafts and good design. We’re also really keen to support regional makers and focus on bringing contemporary craft out of the cities so next spring, as well as our annual Select Trail which sees local artists and makers from all disciplines opening their studios and running artist-led exhibitions, we’re also staging a flagship exhibition at Newark Park. Visitors will be able to see – and buy – etched glass, ceramics, paintings, textiles, reclaimed mosaics and sculpture by both leading established makers and emerging locally based artists.
What are the highlights for the Autumn?
The newly opened ‘Craft at the Subs’ programme which will feature work from different regional makers every month (head over there right now for Anna Simpson’s and Jill Watton’s beautiful domestic ceramics); the arrival of SIT’s very own on-line store (watch this space) and, in November, the launch of ‘Maker in Focus’ at the spanking new Gloucestershire Guild gallery – ‘The Guild at 51’. Presented by SIT, we open with the very talented Joseph James Hartley.
There’s so much going on which is why we’ve launched this blog. It’s being run by design writer Charlotte Abrahams who will be posting news of SIT events, interviews with our designers and collaborators and things of interest to lovers of contemporary applied arts. You can also keep track of events via the newsletter, twitter (https://twitter.com/StroudIntText) and on our main website, www.stroudinternationaltextiles.org.uk