Sue Lawty’s work has an immediate appeal to me as a textile conservator and a student of textiles. There is an absolute beauty and serenity in the order created by Sue’s careful sorting and understanding of the elements chosen by her, be it textile fibres or found objects, uniting them and transforming them into her own original creations. Warp and weft relationship, interlocking, slits, tension, damaged areas, and the many more features which can be found in a textile are identified by Sue and extracted to create a new and original piece. Most recently, in her compositions of “found objects”- shells and stones- become textile features and are further synthesized into essences and a new form. It is fascinating to observe how the careful alignment of multiple rows of tiny flat grey stones can represent to you so fully the fine tightness of the weave of an ancient pre-Columbian textile. As a Textile Conservator, I too look very closely at the structure of a textile: its technique, materials, areas of damage, past historical evidence. All this information is the basis of a report on its condition and proposal for its treatment. My aim, as a conservator, is to re- introduce a certain order to an existing piece, a balanced order which will prolong its life for the study and enjoyment of the observer. From the same data Sue creates a new piece with references to the old. As we both peer over a beautiful 17th C Tournai tapestry in the Textile Conservation Section at the Victoria & Albert Museum, we are both enchanted by it, admiration and wonder unite us, although our response to it will follow different sympathetic paths. Susana Hunter 11/12/05
‘The War of Troy’ tapestry awaiting conservation. Museum no. 6-1887. Woven in Tournai (Flandres) in 1490. Conserved in Textiles Conservation Section, V&A by Frances Hartog and Albertina Cogram, Senior Conservators. Estimated 3,473hrs. conservation time. Tapestry to be displayed in new Medieval and Renaissance Galleries due to open 2009.