Sunday, 28 October 2012

Words and colours for inspiration at Gloucester Cathedral

The Symposium, ‘Architecture, Colour and Cloth’ at Gloucester Cathedral I attended yesterday was an inspiring range of ideas and imagery presented by a series of super textile speakers – two of whom were Ptolemy Mann, Anna Glasbrook. who were both exhibiting their work within the side aisles, cloister walks and a small gallery room. Sophie Smallhorn showed us her work based on clever colour harmonies and contrasts and told us how she was the colour consultant for the Olympic Stadium – all the wonderful coloured architecture and lights were all down to her.

Margo Selby showed her beautiful woven surfaces that are based on repeat pattern, made intriguing by her sensuous use of colour. Her designs have been made commercially now by leading textile firms and she showed us her beautiful shoes that she was wearing that are covered with her woven textiles.

This event was held in the Chapterhouse of Gloucester Cathedral. itself a superb example of beautiful design in its vast height of stone-carved walls and magnificent stained glass window. Our lunch was taken in the King Henry room, where Henry is supposed to have first met Ann Boleyn – this time, the walls were of solid carved wood and massive beams to the ceiling.

Ptolemy Mann creates woven textiles in soothing colour changes, space dyeing her own yarns in the traditional ikat weave process. Her designs have also been used as printed lengths and upholstered textiles. Long lengths were hung from each of the pillars in the main cathedral.

I viewed these long hangings to the accompaniment of the most beautiful music in the Cathedral which seems to reflect the up-lifting nature of the textiles. Here’s a little snippet for you.

Textile by Ptolemy Mann, with Gloucester cathedral choir and orchestra.


Woven textile, in progress by Ptolemy Mann.


Stitching between two surfaces – work by Anna Glasbrook. Also shown were panels Anna made for a garden in Chelsea Flower Show which won a silver gilt.

Although there are not a large number of items on view, the setting of Gloucester Cathedral makes a visit a very up-lifting experience. The exhibits will be in the Cathedral until 31st December.


  1. What interesting and exciting work from all the artists! I particularly like Margo Selby's boots - I do covet them.

    1. Me too. Shall we put them on our Christmas lists?