The Textiles & Fashion collection recently acquired a striking and innovative ‘woven sculpture’ by artist Rita Parniczky. The example of her work was kindly donated by the Worshipful Company of Weavers, which had had the piece on display since its commission in 2010. We invited Rita to visit the Clothworkers’ Centre and see this example of her work for the first time in nearly seven years. Rita talked about her inspirations, techniques and creative process, and provided insight into what she’s currently working on.
The ‘X-Ray Series’ hanging was created in 2010, shortly after Parniczky graduated from Textile Design at Central St Martins College of Art & Design, University of the Arts, London. Despite her background in textiles, Rita explained that she considers her practice to be more closely aligned with sculpture, and refers to her work as woven sculptures rather than textile hangings.
The monochromatic, textured piece features a complex structure of intertwined yarns of monofilament nylon, hand-dyed rayon and cotton. Rita’s weave technique forces supplementary warp threads into unnatural paths, creating an intricate, multidimensional surface reminiscent of tributaries or veins.
The piece was produced to commission for the Worshipful Company of Weavers after Parniczky was awarded one of the Company’s prestigious prizes for innovative work. The sculpture was displayed in the Company’s offices near St Pauls in the City of London, before being generously donated to the V&A earlier this year.
Rita described how winning the prize encouraged her to pursue her work professionally: ‘the support gave me validation and a belief in my work’. The prize included £2500, which Rita put towards the purchase of a Leclerc loom so that she could produce larger scale, complex pieces in her own studio. This particular ‘sculpture’ was woven on a George Wood loom and was the largest scale example of work that Rita had produced up until then. For her, it now represents the shift from her student work to her professional output.
It took Rita five days to set up the loom before beginning to weave this commission. Once prepared, she wove around 15 to 20cm a day, depending on the complexity of the section.
The sculpture is part of a body of work entitled ‘X-Ray Series’. The inspiration for these pieces came from a series of photograms that Rita produced using everyday objects. The interplay between dark and light and similarity to x-rays informed her monochromatic colour scheme. She explained that light is an integral part of her work. She creates surfaces and textures that will interact with shifting light. Rita described how bright light can transform the nylon monofilament yarn to look almost crystallised, ‘like the glittering surface of the sea’.
A focus on light and how it affects her woven installations has become key to Rita’s current practice. She now creates space and time-specific installations based on the movement of light. She thinks carefully about how sunlight shifting across a space will interact with her work, making light itself one of her mediums.
The X-Ray Series woven sculpture is an exciting addition to the V&A’s contemporary textile collection, demonstrating innovative techniques that push the boundaries of woven material.
If you’d like to view the object in person, you can make an appointment at the Clothworkers’ Centre, where you will be able to view up to 5 other objects of your choice from the Textiles & Fashion collection. To enquire or make an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.