Jo Briscoe: Seeing the Unseen

Updated: May 22, 2020

I fell in love with weaving during HNC Contemporary Constructed Textiles at Bradford School of Art where I am a final year mature student. My inspiration for this collection came from a BBC programme 'Earth from Space', showing satellite photographs of amazing details of the earth on which we live. What struck me was how the satellite view differed from the view with the naked eye; the sense of scale and of things previously unseen; hence the title 'Seeing the Unseen'. The specific images I focussed on are of the Sandaban Delta in the Bay of Bengal with its intricate network of meandering tidal channels which change colour with the ebb and flow of the tide.

Exhibit 1 - 3-D leno double cloth construction using hand-dyed fishing line, strimmer cable and copper wire. It represents the never ending cycle of tidal change. The area is threatened by global warming, deforestation and rising sea levels.

Exhibit 2 - Double cloth and plain weave using silk, metallic thread and monofilament waste from a local textile industry. As the tide goes out, the resulting mudflats reflect sunlight giving them the appearance of liquid copper. It appears beautiful from the satellite but the mud is a result of inland flooding washing away fertile soil and depositing it as silt in the river delta.

Q. Within your work, you’re drawn to using ‘non-traditional’ materials – what first inspired you to explore the capabilities of these materials?

Necessity! I was looking for materials of a certain colour for my first project. Looking around the house I found gift ribbon, plastic threads from a post bag and some garden wire. I was able to utilise these materials with good effect. I started experimenting with monofilament after seeing it used by other weavers I admired. Someone told me it was fine to use as a weft thread (the horizontal threads) but tricky to use in the warp (longitudinal threads). It was like an invitation to have a go! I like the unpredictability of some of these materials. They look one way whilst on the loom but take on a differnet form once released from the loom.

Q. Your work prompts a well-needed commentary into our current environmental crisis, how do feel about the role that art can play in critiquing social and political issues?

I think art should be a tool to help us interpret the world around us. Art isn't just a pretty bucolic scene, but something that should evoke an emotional response; whether that is happy, sad, calm, angry or bored is up to the beholder! I hope this collection will bring an awareness to the audience of the plight of low lying areas and think about how our impact on the earth has an effect on others. Whilst I cannot claim to be the greenest of green, I have given thought to the materials I use, of recycling and repurposing wherever possible.

Q. Can you tell us a bit more about your practice as a whole?

So far my practice has been largely dictated by the requirements of the course. I came to the course with no previous weaving experience, a blank canvas. It has been a priviledge to be given the building blocks to observe, investigate, design and create my own work.

Q. What are your plans following the completion of your studies?

To be a thread! Kay Sekimachi said “ to be a good weaver, you have to feel like a thread”.

I am interested in the therapeutic value of being creative. With over 30 years experience in a caring profession and a lifetime of creativity I envisage combining these skills whilst maintaining my weaving practice.


To see more of Jo Briscoe's work click the link below


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