Wheels and looms by Julie Turner.


A few weeks ago I went to Bankfield  Museum to meet Ebony the collections officer to look at some items which I hoped would appeal and excite me and become my ‘starting point’ object.

I had asked Ebony if I could look at spinning wheels and weaving looms. As a fibre arts practitioner these items excite me. Ebony didn’t disappoint as she took me into the museum stores and into the spinning wheel room. I was overwhelmed with the number and variety of spinning wheels, drop spindles and a whole host of spinning paraphernalia. The different woods they were made of varied in colour shade, style and decoration. From the municipal basic to exotically turned and decorated models but each one offered the same service – to spin yarn. Not one of them stood out and spoke to me for this project so we moved on to the next room. The loom room. The contents of this room were slightly less overwhelming mainly due to the fact that many looms take up a large floor area, making them hard to store assembled therefore many of the looms are dismantled for storage. I asked Ebony about an old display upstairs at Bankfield which housed many examples of ethnographic fabrics and the looms they were woven on. She informed me that these looms had been moved into storage to make space for the new king and country exhibition.

Being overwhelmed by the amount of exhibits which fit my brief of spinning wheels and weaving looms, I left Bankfield Museum feeling I needed to think again about my ‘starting point’ objects.

Over the weeks since this first visit I have researched, deliberated, discussed and challenged my initial ideas for my ‘starting point’ objects. Sticking with the broad ideas of spinning wheels and weaving looms I have focused in and become more specific. With this new detailed direction to travel in I have contacted Ebony and asked to view spun, woven or both objects which include unusual items in them. The items which come to my mind are human hair mourning pieces, ethnographic spinning or weavings including items such as tree bark, animal hair/bones etc.

Ebony will now look through the museums vast catalogues and let me know when she finds items fitting this new more precise brief. It’s very exciting; I wonder what she will find!