Woven through with fresh values
No human eye is really innocent. But it is a rare pleasure to see through the eye of an artist who has departed from the tired patterns of our everyday view of the world even though the eyes of artists that we call primitive are biased just as our own are biased towards any tidy modern concept of perspective. Each is sophisticated in different ways. Each approaches its view of the world with all past and present information stored in mind and body.
Lynne Curran is a tapestry weaver with a personal vision which allows us fresh insights. She works in the painterly traditions of such artists as Stanley Spencer, David Jones, Samuel Palmer; and she "draws" in a similar way to David Hockney in his early 60s period. What Lynne Curran has in common with all of these is a conviction that our everyday view of the world, our surface realities, do not bear an importance worth recording. She and the others have been engaged on a more personal search which seeks for a potency that our standardized view of the world has lost. Some have been concerned with dreams, some with intense feelings of time and place, others with humor or religion. What each of them has tried to do is to find a way of making visible, and preserving, the preciousness of certain moments.
There is much that changes throughout Lynne Curran's work, but what remains constant is nature. Her tapestries are filled with plants, hills, animals and sometimes a lone human. When humans enter they are shown in a lyrical relationship with nature. They are never allowed to dominate their surroundings.
All of Lynne Curran's work that I have seen is strongly autobiographical. "Myrica Gale" shows the sweet gale herb collected by Lynne in Connemara and Argyll. "Yarrow" is a self-portrait with animals and plants inside a border of Scottish folk charm and Celtic scrolls. "Rag Rainbow" is a self- portrait of Lynne asleep after climbing the mountain Ben Cruachen. In each of these, color plays a central part in evoking mood. "Myrica Gale" has colors that glow softly , darkly, while the singing colors of "Rag Rainbow" recall the exhilaration and glow of one's tired head and limbs after physical exertion.
Of Rackwick Lynne has done two tapestries, one in miniature and one full size.Rackwick is a bay in Hoy, an island in the Orkneys north of Scotland. Difficult to get to, hard to make a living on, the Orkneys have managed to preserve a sense of history which has elsewhere been trampled over by "progress." The steep rocky cliffs drop into the sea which thunders underneath them. Here the strong Celtic not designs seem to be at home. Lynne Curran has used them in the wide border of her large Rackwick weaving. The knots seem to have come out of the hands of old sailors. Jewel-like, in the center is the little picture of Rackwick pulsing with linear energy. The slow dance of the Celtic knots in the border is made slower by the central vibrance. It is a record of intense feeling, and the slow craft of tapestry weaving has helped to distill and amplify those feelings.
When I've seen some weavers at work I have wondered why they did not just paint the image they were creating. With Lynne Curran's work one can see that this would be contrary to the need to stitch in the intense feelings. Paintings are made on a surface and they never really meld with that surface completely. In Lynne Curran's work the colored rags, linen, camel's hair, silk and cottons are inside the tapestry. They do not just sit on the surface and the substance -- the warp and the weft. Sensibly Lynne allows her threads to show their own characters. The way the edges of her tapestries curve reflects the natural tendencies of the threads and intensifies her own wavering edges. There are no cold, tense, straight lines in her work. There are warm, strong, curved lines and quivering mysterious paths which do not hurry.
The core of her work is her intense feeling about places. She has found a medium that marries well with her own vision and it is to her credit that it is impossible to know to what extent the medium dictates to her or she to the medium.