Deep inspiration: the JOY of Jilly Edwards

I get inspiration for my artwork from many places. You never know when the carpet you're sitting on in the middle of the night at Dallas/Fort Worth International will start you sketching something that could become a tapestry. But a very direct source of inspiration this week was Jilly Edward's new book, Joy: Yellow is the New Blue.

This is the sort of book that makes me run to my sketchbooks, paint, and yarns in excitement. It includes essays by June Hill (curator), Jessica Hemmings (Professor of Crafts & Vice Prefekt of Research, University of Gothenburg), and Jilly herself. I especially appreciated Jennifer Harris's essay near the back of the book about tapestry as a contemporary medium.

Jilly is a tapestry artistweaver from the U.K. Her book is 200 pages of inspiring photos, musings, and poetry. And it is presented in such a gorgeous way. The book is sewn (with yellow thread!) so that it lays flat and it is printed on matte paper that is perfect for representing her weavings.

What do I weave? An instant response could be, that I weave ‘wooly pictures’, but its more to me, its incredibly personal. I don’t weave ginormous battle scenes or political or current statements. I weave about time and space. I want to share a moment with my viewers, giving them time to reflect on the world around them, as I do.
— Jilly Edwards

This little yellow box contains a description of Jilly's artistic process. Curator June Hill says this:

Journaling is important to Jilly Edwards. Her books of gridded lines are covered with notes, sketches and scraps of paper from things observed or experienced. Words are important too, hence the poems. Part way through the planning of this project, she filled her current journal with jotted thoughts on possible titles. How to describe not only a body of work, but also all the process contained therein?
— June Hill

The box containing the marvels of Jilly's art.

This book has a completely unique presentation. It comes in a lovely yellow box and includes a flip book that made me laugh right out loud in delight.

The treasure box opened. 

I adore the way this book is bound. The paper is luscious. Much of it is yellow. And it lays flat when opened.

The images are all about tapestry. I think there is only one photo in the whole book with Jilly in it and it shows her back and hands as she is weaving. Looking inside her process and her studio is fascinating though most of the details you'll be left to discern from the photographs as this book isn't about describing the actual process of weaving tapestry. There are images from her Wanderlust show as well as a show at Saatchi Gallery in London.

And you won't be surprised at how fascinated I was by one project she describes where she took the yarn scraps from each week of work and wove a 8 x 8cm piece at the end of the week. At the end of the year she had a display of 52 small pieces that looked back at her tapestry journey over the year. There are photographs of each of these 52 weavings.

Photos of Jilly Edwards' studio in Joy: Yellow is the New Blue

One of my favorite sections of the book shows Jilly's sketches. Being able to see inside a bit of the design process and what things are inspiring to her is powerful fuel for my own creative process.

This is the flip book. It is old-school video in paper. I love it.

Flip book that comes with Joy: Yellow is the New Blue.

It is not surprising that I heard about this book from Tommye Scanlin, that font of inspiring tapestry information. Joan Griffin ordered the first US copy and I'm happy she told us all about it! I ordered a copy straight away. The book is not expensive for the gorgeousness it is, but I will warn you that shipping to the USA is not cheap. A less expensive shipping method was going to take 6 weeks to get to the USA and that isn't going to work for most of us. So save your latte money for a couple weeks and it'll pay for the shipping. 

It is completely worth it. You can get your copy HERE. And if you're not familiar with Jilly's work, THIS video is wonderful.

I'll end with this bit from Jennifer Harris's essay.

Tapestry weaving exemplifies ‘slow’ in making terms and is the antithesis of the fast communications of the contemporary world. It can take years to weave a large, complex design in tapestry, which is why it has come to be regarded as an expensive, elite art form. Large tapestries that are not commissioned are highly speculative art works, costly to produce in terms of both time and money. Time is effectively woven into the tapestry medium. Unsurprisingly, therefore, traditional hand-woven tapestry is not currently fashionable with young artists, although its history and links with painting make it attractive to artists generally...
— Jennifer Harris, essay in Joy: Yellow is the New Blue

Please leave your thoughts in the comments below! ... either about the quote above or what you think of the book when your copy arrives.