Monday, March 23, 2009

The Weaver's Window

"Life today is very bewildering. We have no picture of it which is all-inclusive, such as former times may have had. We have to make a choice between concepts of great diversity. And as a common ground is wanting, we are baffled by them. We must find our way back to simplicty of conception in order to find ourselves." - Anni Albers, Selected Writings on Design (1937).

A dear friend who lives in Norwich (rhymes with porridge), England, has a shop in a Medieval building, called Inanna's Magical Gifts. The upstairs of the building has a room that was once used for weaving the fabulous Norwich Shawls. In that room is a huge window out of which the weaver probably seldom looked. He would have, like Plato's cave dwellers, faced the wall with the light behind him, facing the shadows. His sons were the draw boys and his wife and daughters did the spinning for him.

The shawls woven in that room were, most likely, beautifully detailed with paisley designs that make my eyes cross with their intricacies. Day after day that weaver worked at the loom and I wonder if he got back pains, if the room was cold and damp in the winter. I like to think that the weaver leaned against the window sometimes, watching the people walking past on errands of their own two floors below. He could have seen customers and wool merchants coming to his shop on the first floor and he would have gone down to the living quarters on the second floor after work.

I wonder if his surname was "Weaver."

In 1983, bicycling through England, I came upon a man taking a bit of lunch. We got to talking and it turned out that he was thatching the roof of the cottage behind him. His father, and his father's father, going back time out of mind, had all been thatchers. He showed me an empty cigarette pack that had been his grandfather's brand, which had been left in the thatching some 40 years or more before. His name was "Thatcher" and he had never been more than 30 miles from his home. He belonged to that place, living and working where he was, in the same way a tree or a stone is fixed in time and space.

Weaving connects me to all those weavers, names unknown, who have come before. I know that I will never fit into a place like Mr. Thatcher did, but I feel like I fit into that long line of other weavers. And through our warps and wefts, we are all one.

"There is more to life than increasing its speed." - Mahatma Gandhi

1 comment:

  1. This is exactly how I feel when I bake bread. Beautifully written.