Threading Tales

September 2010| 363 views

Words Prasadini Nanayakkara | Photographs Hiranya Malwatta

Weaving, it appears, is much more than the creation of a pretty fabric. The body of work encompassing 15 years by artist and fabric technologist Chandramani Thenuwara showcases the intricacies of handweaving which she presented as a tribute to the handweavers of Sri Lanka. This form of art, we discover, is an amalgam of thoughtfully selected colours, the dexterity of skilful weavers adopting varied techniques, technologies and inspired design. “This is why you need the designer and the weaver to work together – the weaver is skilled in the different weaving techniques but the designer must instruct the different colours, yarns and proportions,” says Chandramani.

Speaking of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the famous poet and philosopher who formulated the Goethe Colour Theory that has influenced her work, Chandramani says, “he is to Germany who Shakespeare is to England except that he was a scientist, as well. But being an artist his colour theory was wider and deeper.” Based on the theory’s postulations, the fabrics display a presentation of colours, such as contrasting colours against black and the same colours against white, which result in vastly different visual presentations. Differences are also apparent by the proportions of the colours used. For instance black surrounded by a predominance of spectrum colours was strikingly different from the very same colours vice versa. Thus these double weaved fabrics conveyed the colour theory in its application.

This particularly difficult weave among the collection demands exceptional skill of the weaver. Here two fabrics are woven at the same time where the weaver is blind to the underside. A fabric design inspired by stained glass was one such double weave. This technique helped produce the dazzling colours found in stained glass. “If you have a colour vertically and insert a colour horizontally, then the colours will inevitably get mixed, but in the case of the double weave you can bring the back fabric to the surface or the surface fabric remains. This gives pure colours one underneath the other,” explains Chandramani.

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