“I have to make the right choices – I want to show a massive variety of what is feasible for those people who make cloth or use cloth in their work. So I’m looking at weavers, knitters, printmakers, digital printmakers, upholsterers, decorative things, functional things, abstract things, bonkers things, and clothing, fashion.”
As the city’s population swells with actors, performers and arts aficionados preparing for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, something else afoot in the city is creating a buzz this weekend: the return of the now-annual Cloth event.
Organised by James Donald of Pick One Weave and Concrete Wardrobe, the Cloth#19 show is a curated celebration of people who make cloth or use cloth in their work.
Cloth designers and craftspeople are featured by invitation only and James takes immense care to balance the offering so that no particular skill or practice dominates. He has also taken the opportunity to introduce a few surprises and uncover some amazing hidden talent. This year’s participants come from all over.
“We have people from further afield, from Dorset and the Outer Hebrides, from the North East of England, from Aberdeen, from the Midlands, and Shetland, we even have a Harris Tweed weaver coming over with bolts of cloth to show…”
One of the charms about the Cloth shows is that they aren’t overwhelming. You feel the power of the curation. The Dovecot is a fantastic, central space with a rich textile heritage, but it also has a capacity of 26 stands in the area where Cloth will take place. Cloth#18 was received immensely positively and all but a handful of participants wanted to return. Those who didn’t have extenuating circumstances such as weddings to plan and babies on the way…
“No one has come back to me and said ‘I’m not coming back because it was bad.’ All the feedback was fantastically positive.”
And therein lay a challenge for James. He wanted to continue to offer something fresh, to curate an event that delivered the unexpected, and he only had a handful of spaces to fill. And then he had a lightbulb moment. An event in two parts, over two weekends. He could split the Cloth#18 cohort between the two events and introduce a new and varied array of cloth-related practices.
“The Dovecot is fantastic because we have Dazzle on at the same time, we have Grayson Perry tapestry show on at the same time. There’s a Barbara Rae exhibition on at the same time in the tapestry viewing space. And the location is fantastic. It wins on lots of different levels.”
While there were many jewellery-only shows and jewellers also have good representation in art galleries, and ceramics were generally well served by events across the country, there is next to nothing with a focus purely on textiles. Even events that claim to be textile-only often feature a selection of craftspeople from other disciplines.
Cloth#18 was born from this frustration and to fill this gap in the market. It provides a selling event in the heart of the city, where the works of the cloth-related designers and craftspeople can be enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Cloth#19 will take place against the backdrop of the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2 parts: 3-4th and 17-18th August at the Dovecot Studios.