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  • Writer's pictureamanda haran

Mentor Alice Fox: A Familial Responsibility Powering Future Practice

This week, I had a career highlight when I met Alice Fox, a textile artist who inspired me to think about sustainability and ethical approaches in my creative work. As a weaver and textile artist, I feel deeply connected to my genetic past as part of a weaving pioneer family. This connection influenced my desire to create art that is kind to the world and society. Alice suggested that I write a personal manifesto. I am taking my time to make one that recognises my genetics as a core influencer in creating art that is kind to the world and society.

I have long cherished Alice's books, dipping in and out of them for collaborative inspiration, visual creative stimulation and touching the tactile cover. However, meeting her in person, albeit virtually, was an even greater joy.

I think the following captures why I felt drawn to Alice at this time in my textile adventures:

'Sustainability is at the heart of my practice. The desire to take an ethical approach has driven a shift from using conventional art and textile materials into exploring found objects, gathered materials and natural processes. '

The desire to gather and see the beauty and use in the discarded has always powered my art. I have always been drawn to sustainability, and I am proud that it is at the heart of my artistic practice. I constantly seek new ways to incorporate found objects, natural processes, and other environmentally friendly materials into my work. When talking to Alice about sustainable practice, I used the phrase 'genetic responsibility,' which made me laugh then. However, having thought about it a little more, I realised this was not as silly as it first appeared. 

My kin, the Horrockses, a weaving pioneer family from Bolton, Lancashire, had featured firmly in the history of the Industrial Revolution in the UK. They gained worldwide fame and specialised in the early days in 'clouding', where two strongly contrasting coloured yarns were combined uniquely. Note the word 'clouding.'

This week, I started my course to become more 'Carbon Literate' with SAIL, inspired by my time at Leeds Museum and Mills. Sections discussed how gases emitted during the Victorian manufacturing heyday were still present in the atmosphere and contributed to today's global warming, a current 'clouding.' 

I identify as a textile artist and a weaver; I identify a deep connection to my genetic past, particularly as the women of the Horrocks family played such a vital role in the business. I recognise the part the company had in our current climate circumstances. As a community collaborative artist, I am responsible for ensuring my practice and those offered to the groups I serve are as kind to our world and societies as possible. Perhaps the reason I feel this in my core is because of my lineage.

Alice Fox suggested I write a personal manifesto; I am taking my time with this opportunity, letting it brew, but my historical and current wanderings this week make me know it has to have my genetics recognised as a core influencer.

I am grateful to Alice for inspiring me to write a personal manifesto, one that recognises the influence of my genetics on my creative work and drives my future artistic practices. 



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