Tara Glastonbury is craftswoman with a passionate love of textiles, tradition and travel. We are lucky to have Tara onboard as one of the tutors of our brand new Summer Workshop Series.
After more than 20 years in the corporate design world, she has returned to her original interest in textiles. During 2014 she undertook a textile residency in Mexico where she spent a number of months learning from master weavers and embroiderers. She became skilled in embroidery techniques that had been brought to Mexico by the Spanish and then adapted through generations of makers.
She talks to Craft here about her craft memories, her philosophies around the handmade and what she learnt in Mexico.
What are your earliest textile craft memories?
My earliest textile craft memories are from my Mum and Nana. If I picture my Nana during my childhood I see her knitting – usually something for me or one of my sisters. I guess knitting would also have been the first textile craft I learnt. Mum has been a big inspiration too and always seems to be able to turn her hand to any textile craft she takes on.
Why is the handmade important to you personally?
For me it’s more the act of making, rather than the made product. I find the process essential to my wellbeing. I think when people get the chance to make something with their own hands it gives them a real sense of achievement, pride and even self-confidence.
Work in progress, Mexican inspired
Tell us more about your recent residency in Mexico? What was the most unexpected thing that you learnt while you were there?
The textile artist’s residency was in Oaxaca, Mexico, a city of just over 250,000 people. It’s a vibrant place with a real focus on the arts and crafts. I was there for six weeks and my time was divided between learning to weave on a backstrap loom and embroidery. Apart from the hands-on skills I learnt, the Oaxaca Textile Museum was an endless source of inspiration. Just the sheer number of communities – each with their own textile specialty – that the museum is trying to document and support is mind-boggling. One of my favourite exhibitions was about a community successfully reinvigorating its traditional cotton weaving industry. Lately they had also be trading with another community on the coast of Oaxaca (it’s a state as well as a city) who are also returning to an old way of life – that of growing coyuchi cotton, which is native to Mexico. It’s a fibre I hadn’t come across before, and has a beautiful, natural colour.
What was the last significant craft item you brought into your collection?
Before I went to Mexico, I was travelling for a short time in Spain and while in Barcelona I purchased a hand embroidered Mantones de Manila to add to my textile collection. It’s bit of a weakness of mine when travelling, I always seem to need an extra bag to lug it all home, but this piece was just too stunning to pass up.
What are you reading at the moment that is keeping you inspired?
It’s a book I’ve read previously, but right now I’m finding inspiration in ‘In Praise of Slow’. Having spent the last decade dealing with major deadlines in the corporate world, it’s a reminder of why I’ve left all that behind and how I can refashion life in the slow lane.
What are your crafty New Year’s resolutions?
Following on from the last question, my crafty resolution for 2015 is to have no plans. I want next year to be a year of play and experimentation. I’ll take up opportunities as they arise, but I don’t want a series of goals I’m working towards or to-do lists to tick off.
If you could take one of the other Summer Workshop sessions, which one would you pick!?
That’s a hard one! I think I’d choose the Ceramic Object Making with Chela Edmunds, it’s a long time since I’ve had a chance to play with clay.