Artist Statement

Ruth Jones Portrait

My work in tapestry involves deciphering patterns of natural objects and sensing inner essences of live forms. I try to better understand my chosen subject by breaking it down into 'pixels' of information suited to a preparatory working drawing that will become my roadmap while constructing the tapestry at the loom.

Tapestry - as an intimate two-dimensional sculpture - benefits from preparatory work in which I identify the codings and hidden structures I want to reveal in the finished weaving. Through its mathematical constructs, the weaving process further helps me distill the patterns and support resolution of the image-in-progress.

While at the loom, I benefit from the preparatory drawing I have fastened to the far side of my warp. It acts as an outline for my compositional elements. And yet, as a music recital draws from its score and yet is not its score, so must the tapestry be brought to life in the moments of weaving. To imbue my work with spontaneity and life, I let the progressing image inform my choices. I see what to do in the moment, based on previous moves (the work builds from the bottom to the top, much like a brick wall, which needs all previous rows of bricks to support the next row), and try to get visual preconceptions (about how I thought the area in question might look) out of the way.

“Ruth Jones is a master of tapestry's quintessential play of light and dark. For her, every thread is a careful coiling of colour, multiple strands working together in pointillist teamwork. Her knots, hundreds to the inch, can resolve literally microscopic detail. Part of her secret is the arsenal of wool and silk threads a weaver uses: wool absorbs incident light, and silk sends it back toward the viewer's dazzled eye. No one in Canada wields these more skillfully than Ruth Jones.”
- Michael Scott, Arts Editor, The Vancouver Sun

The act of tapestry weaving involves a rudimentary kind of binary language and thinking that is both simple and profound in its scope. Which warp thread I turn around on actually matters to the elegance of the shape I am building, even though I will make this decision thousands of times within one tapestry. I am reminded of the computer's origins in tapestry code. No matter how large the quantity of information we expect to send and receive via the computer, we depend on each singular binary decision to be true, right, and appropriate.

Weaving by its nature is an intimate journey through the soul of an image, which has been for me a very compelling reason to pursue the art. Tapestry allows me a chance not only to order an image by pixels of hue and tonal value, but to slip into it. The extreme tactile intimacy of the process, in which I am embraced by the loom and have my hands inside the image, may account for the mysterious resonance that emanates from finished work. I initially noticed it in the works of historical and contemporary tapestries by other weavers, and was amazed to discover it, when I first began weaving, coming from my own work. I think that this fascinating emanation has fueled my commitment to a hand woven medium.

In tapestry process, colour blending happens when I interweave thin triangles of one hue into receptive thin triangles of another hue. The resulting intermixed area is called hatching or, from the French, hachures. To explain this perception of tapestry resonance to myself, I say that it is the result of one's state of being getting hatched into one's state of doing.

Ruth Jones