Agnis Smallwood is a Yorkshire based designer, maker, researcher and educator who in her own words “loves to create, make and teach.” Whilst studying for her degree in Contemporary Applied Arts she was gifted two looms and first discovered a passion for weaving. This passion led on to Agnis designing and creating her own woven fabrics and products as well as sparking a desire to help others learn the art of weaving. She now runs workshops with primary and secondary schools as well as working with community groups and organisations teaching a wide range of weaving methods and sparking the creativity of children and adults alike. Agnis facilitated a workshop at Settle Stories 2017 Creative Summer School and the children loved her!
“Agnis created a fun and relaxed atmosphere in which she shared her love of crafts. Adults and children alike enjoyed creating something new and exciting. A great afternoon!” Workshop participant
Agnis has fond memories of travelling along the Settle-Carlisle Railway between her home in Leeds and Carlisle and so in anticipation of her return to Settle Stories this April, I caught up with her to get to know her a little better . . .
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
A: I love making and I love making with other people, so I guess I am proud that I have been able to create a job doing this. For me that is an important achievement to be able to do what I love each day.
Q: What inspires your creativity?
A: I am inspired by the everyday, the world that I inhabit, the journeys I take, the places I walk around, the people I meet. A previous collection of work was called 'Forgotten' and it celebrated the plants and grasses that grew between the cracks in pavements and on wasteland. Dandelions and nettles can often be thought of as worthless weeds but actually they are incredibly beautiful.
Q: Give one piece of advice to your younger self.
A: 'Have confidence, you will make mistakes and it might not always be easy but have confidence and believe in what you are doing'
Q: Who is your artistic idol & why?
A: Gosh, this is tricky, I am inspired by so many different people for different reasons. There are some fantastic contemporary weavers who inspire me to investigate more on my own loom. As well as pedagogic practitioners who make me think about the way I teach and how I work with and alongside different communities.
Q: What is your key goal with your artistic practice?
A: I don't know that I have one key goal, that I am aiming towards. I feel like my artistic practice and career has been more of a journey, different experiences have led to other opportunities. I don't always know where I am heading which is exciting (also a little scary!) This year I am trying push myself and do things I have never done before, so far, I have designed a shop window display for the first time as well as having been filmed and it’s only the beginning of February, so I think that is a good start for 2018!
Q: If you could be any literary character, who would you be and why?
A: I would love to be Paddington Bear! I loved reading the stories as a child and hearing about the different adventures Paddington got himself into. I also really love a good sandwich, so I would always have one under my hat for an emergency, maybe just not always marmalade!
FULL SETTLE STORIES PROGRAMME - CLICK HERE
Written by Charlotte Furness
Images © of Agnis Smallwood and John Kane Photography