A Weaver’s Journey
Tucked away in a room of a converted print works in Shrewsbury in Shropshire you’ll find Carla Cabiddu. The clunking, juddering sounds coming from the room are made by Carla’s traditional wooden loom as she weaves. We invite you to step into Carla’s creative space and discover her journey into weaving and what goes into making her Mediterranean-inspired tapestries.
Can you tell us about how your journey with weaving began?
My journey with weaving began in 2017. At the time I was working for a paint company, and while I would spend most of my day talking about colours and interiors, I soon began to need a creative outlet outside my job, to make something tangible with my hands.
I had always been fascinated by textiles and the way they are constructed, so I decided to give tapestry a go and signed up for a class with a local weaver. The creative possibilities of tapestry weaving got me hooked and I continued practising for a few years until I eventually started showing my work. However, with weaving, one never stops learning so it’s an ongoing journey.
You have said that you don’t always have a preconceived idea for a tapestry, with the work evolving as you are weaving. It sounds like an intuitive creative process?
There is definitely an element of improvisation in my process. I love the idea of working intuitively with what is normally perceived as a pretty structured and pattern-based medium. I usually start designing a tapestry by sketching on paper. I then transfer the sketch to the warp using waterproof markers. I use the marks as a guide but often deviate from them if I feel the design needs adjusting to achieve a certain organic quality. This is why if I were to weave the same piece twice, it would probably not look exactly the same.
The landscape and colours of the Mediterranean inspire your work. Do you travel back to Sardinia where you grew up? And do you bring things back with you for inspiration?
I try to go back to Sardinia a few times a year, not only to visit family and friends but also because to me it’s really important to not feel disconnected from my roots. I don’t bring back much (although I probably would if luggage allowances were more generous!) so if I am looking for inspiration I bring my camera and capture anything that interests me. I do the same here in the UK when going on long walks in the countryside or by the sea. But I did start collecting some things in Sardinia – dry, prickly pear leaves. They are so beautiful in their own right.
I’d love to hear about your new studio set in an old print works which you helped convert.
One year ago, I moved to Shrewsbury after nine years living in Brighton. My partner, who is also an artist, was struggling to find a new studio. So when this old printing press factory came up for rent, it seemed too good an opportunity to waste. It was like an artist’s dream space.
The building had been vacant for over 20 years so it was in terrible condition but, to save money, we did most of the work ourselves. It took three months and countless hours of sanding, cleaning and painting – but it paid off. We now both have studios and two spaces that we share with other artists.
What was the last exhibition you visited?
I recently went to see WOVEN/UNWOVEN by Laura Thomas at Ruthin Craft Centre in North Wales. It was a beautifully curated exhibition of Laura’s most recent textile pieces and was particularly inspired by the delicate quality of her wall hangings. Worth a visit.
We have three new and exclusive tapestries straight from the studio. Could you tell us a little about these pieces?
With these pieces, I wanted to play with the idea of reinterpreting motifs found in traditional textiles, but also photographs of people living rurally, to simplify and change them to the point they become something else. They are abstractions of human forms, particularly women, but can also be viewed as animal-like. I was also interested in creating subtle irregularities and movement within these forms and retaining a sketch-like quality in the weaving.