Weaving out loud

Date: Mar 11 - Jun 18, 1995
Artist: Sandra Brownlee-Ramsdale
Curated by: Anne West

In this 1995 exhibition, Sandra Brownlee’s small-scale, predominantly black and white weavings combine familiar and unfamiliar symbols and abstract patterning with a rich repertoire of fantastic imagery such as birds, animals, architecture, streams, trees, flowers and human forms. Her work reflects the spiritual, psychological and physical connections that she feels with these elements of the natural world. Brownlee draws complex images, row by row, on a traditional floor loom using materials such as fine silks, cotton yarns and sewing threads. Brownlee’s utilizes a palette of black and white, which allows her to work in a linear stream of consciousness, and enables her to concentrate on the graphic qualities of each work.


I have found a way of working as a weaver that makes me feel intensely alive.

From the beginning of my work with woven imagery in 1979, my investigations have started at the loom with initial technical exercises followed by free experimentation in the form of mark-making and doodling. With few preconceived ideas, and rarely any preparatory sketches, each pattern shed is hand picked using a smooth, pointed pick-up stick. Decisions are made about how to make each shed quickly and intuitively. Lines, dots, shapes and patterns are formed as the work progresses, row by row. Ideas for specific figures and appropriate environments to put them in become clearer as lighthearted play turns into a more conscious and purposeful invention.

My earliest weavings were long, narrow, black and white strips; this format allowed me to work in a linear stream of consciousness, which I have always found comfortable. Format, scale, subject matter and technique have varied over the years, but I have continued to utilize a restricted palette of black and white (with the exception of the Floral Images series) enabling me to concentrate on the graphic qualities of each work. When I weave, I am writing… the end products are tactile drawings. Each piece I weave celebrates my pleasure in, and appreciation of, the abstract nature of weaving and its potential as a vehicle for recording my feelings and ideas in a direct, vital way.

My interest in autobiographical note-making, journal-keeping and art-making are combined as I explore the symbolic language that continues to unfold through my weaving.

–Sandra Brownlee, 1995


Curatorial Essay: The Woven Imagination, By Anne West