Heather Shields - Textile Designer/Weaver
You wouldn't think that technology had such a strong application to traditional creative forms...
That was what struck me the most about my time with Heather. I wasn't arrogant enough to assume I had the first idea how weaving works, but I was almost entirely sure it wouldn't benefit from the use of a Macbook.
But as it turns out it does. This kind of ongoing lack of awareness of the evolution of traditional arts is actually a little worrying when you think about.
We all except digital photography, video, painting etc but the idea that botique and handcrafted can go hand in hand with some serious tech isn't really talked about all that much.
The word fascinating will no doubt be a recurring one on this project, but it was fascinating to realise that everything has evolved. Even those things which I, in my ignorance, though of as inherently old fashioned.
Which isn't to say that Heather's work ethic is anyway damaged by the connivence of technology. From what I've seen only it seems like it enhances it.
The hand crafted nature is still there, that tactical skill and human design element is as essential as always, but with technology providing that helping hand (all puns always intended) it seems to open even more creative opportunities. Heather's work is a prime example of technology being used an artistic tool and not a creative crutch.
The 21st century is full of crutches. Most of well are well intentioned, a lot of which are needed, but there's also no small number that are turned into lazy shortcuts. Heather's work isn't that. This is a painstaking and involved as textiles ever was. It's just different.
If anything, doing three scarves at once shows how much they used to slack it back in the day only doing one at a time.
Technology also allows Heather's work to be a business more or less entirely herself. In a lot of ways techonology is now becoming the key to keeping crafts like this alive. It may well force artists into adopting business roles that make them uncomfortable, but I'd be inclined to call that an exciting new frontier.
So there's the future of keeping the old ways alive: embracing technology.
The tired memes saying that we've all lost our way because we use our phones so much are as wrong as they are boring and ill informed. We need to openly embrace the tools of the future, use them to enhance what we already have and push forward. Close minded conservatism has no place in the battle to further the human race.
And if we want to believe all the tired old cliches about artists it certainly doesn't belong in the arts.
Which is just another reason why work like Heather's work is so valuable. This is the change we want to see in ourselves in actions. That her products are of the unrivalled quality doesn't hurt either mind you.
Find out more about Heather's work and purchase her products at heather-shields.co.uk