Collaborative installation project


My daughter’s partner, David Rylands, asked if I would be interested in a project with him. He was doing a music installation for a conference and he wanted five panels to enclose the space where one person would sit in the middle of many speakers listening to his electro-acoustic composition.

The brief was for five panels 2.5m x 1.1m in black but with some colour and in an open weave so light could shine through them. I had lots of a grey/green carpet wool which I dyed black and then randomly dyed some white carpet wool, with blue and red. Each panel had four narrow asymmetrical stripes in this coloured wool.

on the loomI wove 15m, took it off the loom, cut it into lengths and I zig-zagged the ends. I did some sampling of the fulling process to get the desired degree of openness. I decided to do it in the washing machine so I could put all the panels in at once and get them fulled evenly. Not a good idea. I was carefully noting how long I was fulling and stopping and looking at regular intervals. Nothing seemed to be happening quickly which was good. Eventually I decided that I had done enough and started taking the panels out. To my horror, I found that the underneath panels had been over-fulled – starting to felt. What a disaster; so much for getting them fulled evenly. I tried pulling them into shape which of course doesn’t work. I let them dry. Three were fine but two were too distorted to be used. I was not happy that night.

The only solution was to weave another couple of panels – another five plus metres. But before that could begin, more dyeing was required. I tied the new warp onto the old one so that I didn’t have to thread the loom up again. Then I began the weaving again.

Music installation panelI had fun finishing the panels to the same length. Fortunately we have a 4m stud height on one side of our house. After hemming the top of each panel and thread it onto a rod, I was able to hang across from the corner of 3m high free-standing wall and onto a tall ladder, and from there could get the hemming line. It was a moment of relief when I finally sent off the five panels to David in Auckland.

David hung the five panels for his installation A Family Wheel which included 18 loudspeakers and was ideal for one-listener. This was for the Australasian Computer Music Conference –  Organic Sounds in Live Electroacoustic Music. 6-9 July, 2011. School of Music, University of Auckland Auckland, New Zealand.