Jacquard weaving 1998-2003



“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves”

Flowers and Leaves #4: Ada Lovelace: Queen of the Engines 1999 Jacquard weaving 48 x 40"

Artist statement


Flowers and Leaves #12: cyborg.leaf  2001, 71" x 40”

Jacquard weaving

Flowers and Leaves #7: Cyborg Des-cending Staircase  1999, 60 x 40" Jacquard weaving

Muybridge or
‘Flowers and Leaves’

Flowers and Leaves #19: green.tea 2003, 62 x 40”

Jacquard weaving

Flowers and Leaves #20: muy.broom 2003, 62 x 40”

Jacquard weaving

Statement 2002

I am interested in the relationship between 'nature' and ‘constructed' or designed nature, particularly ornate Rococo floral motives from the 18th cent. My interest in Jacquard weaving started in 1997 with Ada Lovelace’s quote: “The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves”. Ada had a background in art and science, poetry and mathematics (her father, Byron, was a poet and her mother a mathematician). This reflects my own interests in science, art and language.

Ada was educated in mathematics and collaborated with Charles Babbage, who invented the 'Analytical Engine' in 1843. It never quite worked, but contained the basic operating principles used by computers today. Ada translated a text by Manabrea and her notes took up more space than the original text and contain the first instances of written software. She discusses the process derived from the Jacquard loom, which uses punched cards to store and process complex information as 'zeros and ones'.

Textiles brought back to Europe from Asia during the 18th century, created a demand for local production of elaborate woven floral designs. Textiles play an important economic role historically and still today; they reflect cultural exchanges, colonial relationships, cause trade wars and labour problems.

The Jacquard loom was central to the industrial development in 1804 and represents the positive and negative aspects of technology. Developed as part of the Industrial revolution, the Jacquard loom caused obvious labour problems. Ned Ludd was a Lancashire weaver who protested and fought the use of these new machines and left us the term 'luddite'.

Crafts and contemporary weaving are often associated with ‘traditions’ and often a romantic view of a past, lost forever. Working with ones hands holds many of the same desires associated with a desire for untainted nature. In reality, textiles have often lead innovation and technological change.

Definitions of ‘nature’ reveal a range of contradictory meanings. Nature often suggests that which is separate from human activity and is used to project desires seemingly unattainable, thus nature is romanticized, patronized and the passive recipient of our desires. Our backyard gardens aim to cultivate nature in our ideals while keeping 'real' nature at bay.

Donna Harraway in the Cyborg Manifesto proposes more fluid boundaries between humans, animals and machines instead of defining them as oppositional or binary positions. She suggests: "We are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short we are Cyborg” and "The Cyborg myth subverts myriad organic wholes, in short, the certainty of what counts as nature - as a source of insight and promise of innocence - is undermined, probably fatally.” (from the Cyborg Manifesto).

Computers and weaving have also been connected in Sadie Plant's essay: 'The Future Loom: Weaving Women and Cybernetics' and her book ‘Zeros and Ones’, which discuss weaving as a digital processing of data. Weaving, of course, is, and always has been a digital process.

Flowers and Leaves #9: ...When Women Skip (in) Paradise 2001,

72 x 40”

Jacquard weaving

Flowers and Leaves #11: Cyclamen I 2001, 67 x 40”

Jacquard weaving