In conversation with: Áine Byrne
Áine Katrina Byrne is a Textile Artist and Designer originally from Ireland and now based in London. After Completing her MA at the RCA, Áine spent time working as a designer in India, before returning to London to continue her work within the field of textile design. Áine woven designs both digitally and by hand for the fashion industry, supplying high end clients and the high street. Áine is based in Hackney Wick Space studio and works as a lecturer at CSVPA.
What attracted you to textiles? How was your creativity captured?
I began my time at university studying fashion design, however, I soon realised I was more attracted by colours and materials and less by the technical construction of clothing. I was fascinated by the idea that you could construct a fabric from just a thread and manipulate fabrics through dying and yarn choice. This fascination informed my decision to change courses and begin studying textile design . My imagination was captured by the various techniques and specialisms I was introduced to, including embroidery, print and weave. I was excited by how experimental textiles is as a discipline.
What Textile techniques and tools did you use at the start of your studies?
My fascination with constructing a fabric from yarn to cloth lead me to try hand knitting, machine knitting (domestic knitting machine) and working on a hand loom. Alongside the construction of fabric I was always trying and testing new ways of manipulating fabric by using machine embroidery machines, including the tufting embroidery machine and the Irish freehand embroidery machine. I love to manipulate fabric through colour and pattern so I also experimented with printing onto fabric, using various techniques to completely change the material including flocking, Devore and printing puff binder on to materials. I have always been interested in transforming fabrics from their natural 2 dimension to 3 dimensional, so they can stand alone. This is what attracted me to woven textiles, as you can manipulate the fabric from beginning to end by what fibres and yarn you weave with.
Tell us a bit about your processes and techniques and how you use them.
My chosen textiles specialism is Woven textiles and I usually work on a hand loom. I love the freedom you have on a hand loom to manipulate the fabric from beginning to end by what fibres and yarn you weave with. As I am drawn to chunky more 3 dimensional constructions, I usually work with quite thick yarn which enables the fabric to grow quickly with a more instant result, rather than the slow process of working with really fine delicate yarns. I am currently working on a large scale tapestry loom I have built in my studio, I find working on a frame loom sometimes gives me the freedom and is less restriction than working on an arm loom, as I can built out and use even more experimental materials.
What Inspires you today?
My surroundings and the city landscape are always an inspiration. I have always been interested in the behind the scenes construction that goes on in the city, the making and the fabrication of the city. The trains, the cranes and the scaffolding. London is constantly growing and full of building sites. I am really inspired by colour and try to keep a camera with me at all time to document colour combinations in the city, especially bold and bright industrial colours that can be seen everywhere in the city. I love to keep up to date with art exhibitions in London and this also acts as a constant inspiration. I have always been interested in objects or materials built to be purely functional and adding aesthetic value to them.
Tell us about an aspect of your work that holds particularly fond memories and why?
My collection during my MA holds a particular fond memory, mainly because at the time I had more time and dedication to one collection, researching experimenting and creating the work for the entirety of the final year. It was inspired by a trip to a wooden mill visited in Bradford, the machinery in the mill but also the products it produced including pool table felt and biodegradable coffins. This lead to a collection comprising of large pieces woven from rope, prints bonded with builders netting alongside jacquard silk suits.
How has your work developed since you were a student to today and how do you see it changing in the future?
I believe my work has developed through introducing new methods and materials along the way. I like to experiment with a variety of materials and these investigations lead to the development of the quality of the work also through working in industry and having more constraints in what can be produced this leads to more refined and considered design choice and making.