Studio Seven Textiles Workshop at Fresh Air 2013

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On Sunday I had the pleasure of joining in with the Studio Seven workshop for students studying, or wishing to study, textiles. Studio Seven is a group of individual textile artists who come together to collaborate to create performances where textiles is the leading idea, and choreography, dance, and character is all based around the costumes and textile pieces created. They bring textiles to the public in new and surprising contexts. They’ve even performed in the garden at the Old Rectory where they did a show for the 2007 Fresh Air … they hope to start planning a new show which they may perform at one of the next shows!


3 of the 7 members of Studio Seven (Corinne, Liz and Jenny) came to teach a small group of girls, including my self, some techniques involved with ” sculptural silhouettes”.

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We started by hearing a bit about what Studio Seven do and having a look at some of the pictures of their performances in the Old Rectory garden and in a stunning disused mansion in Stroud. I spotted Davy and Kristen McGuire (the creators of ‘The Hunter’ paper and animation installation at Fresh Air 2013) amongst the photos as they have been performers for the textiles group before! After we’d have a brief introduction we headed out into the garden with paper and pencils ready to get inspiration from the forms within the garden – from sculptures to nature itself.

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Robin Connelly’s piece below really caught my eye! From this direction I imagined that the two pieces could form two different sides of a dress and that the carved shapes could be replicated as intricate pleats and folds in the material.

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So I sketched that down roughly to see how it would look on the human form shapes we’d been given. We sketched other sculptures onto plain paper to take back the shapes and textures to inspire us throughout the day. There were 4 sculptures that inspired my piece throughout the day and they were Lucy Strachan’s “God Rod”, Robin Connelly’s “Rhyme and Respose”, Jon Williams’ “Percussive Disks” and Mike Savage’s “Core”. Hopefully later on in the post you’ll be able to see their sculptures within my piece.

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We got back into the tent just as the skies opened and the wind and rain poured down.  We were very grateful for the tent later on, but needed hot chocolates and teas to keep us warm! Once under cover Jenny showed us how to create a similar shape to the human form using coat hangers which we then attached to these bases with poles that they provided us with.

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They showed us a few great techniques that we’d all never seen before, such as scrunching up tissue paper a few times and then unfolding it and gently pulling parts of it which would create flat areas that structurally held their shape. Liz showed us some block printing equipment we could use, and we all had a good look through the material available. We all were interested in the plastic tubing which I later used by threading wire through it.

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Georgie’s bock print stamp above used lots of different textures and patterns, this was for her skirt piece that was inspired by the patterns and texture of the bark on the three that held Natalia Dias’ ceramic thorns.

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Maggie created petal and feather like skirt shapes after being inspired by the flowers of the garden and the feather shapes of the bird sculptures.

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Here’s my piece, I used inspiration from Lucy Strachan’s “God Rod” to create the shapes of the side skirt, made with thin paper and wire. Jon Williams’ “Percussive Disks” had ridges that formed concentric circles on each disk … this inspired me to thread wire through the plastic tubing and shape them into concentric circles as a collar piece, and top of sleeve element. I started to attach garden tie wire to the plastic tubing to form puffy sculptured sleeves based on the lines and shapes of Mike Savage’s “Core”.

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Georgie’s piece had air filled tissue paper baubles as the end of the arms based on Colin and Louise Hawkins’ “Plantain”, hand-blown white glass spheres.

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Jenny was carefully sewing tissue paper pantaloons, which formed a type of jumpsuit with interesting ridged areas.

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Lizzie was inspired by the shapes that Julie Major’s “Collar” (the delicate white piece in the scarlet painted stone house) created, and she made a block print that replicated a section of the piece that could be repeated to create similar patterns.

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My piece evolving slowly … a longer sleeve and more “God Rod” inspired skirt pieces.

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Even more evolved … a black skirt which was created out of random scraps of black materials I cut up, and each scrap pinched in the centre and threaded onto a wire ring to create the gorgeous pleated shapes. This was the only way I could think of creating a piece that was inspired by the complex patterns of Robin Connelly’s “Rhyme and Repose”. I hope that at least the charred oak colour is reflected in the use of the dark material.

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Jenny’s piece, with her sewing on triangle detailing.

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Lizzie used cable ties around the waist to create a skirt shape and then weaved string in between these ties. Above she had paper with wire in to create petal like shapes, as she was inspired by the irises growing in the flower beds in the pool garden.

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Finished! We placed all our finished pieces on a table and stood around and discussed what had inspired each element of our design. It was interesting to see what sculptures and elements of the garden had inspired each person.

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They looked great all together at the end!

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I really enjoyed the day and it was nice to do some textiles as I haven’t done much since I left Sixth Form last summer! Liz, Corinne and Jenny were great to talk to and really inspired us all to create our pieces and to carry on creating in the future. The others involved are going into their 2nd year of A Levels in September and are looking forward to using their creations, and inspiration from the day, in their coursework.

Visit there website – – to see what they are up to at the moment, and look out for them at next years Fresh Air as we hope they will be attending!