Case Study

Andrew Warburton – Sculpting a Continent

climate change in textiles

Andrew Warburton has been designing and making hand tufted rugs for domestic, commercial and commissioned floor or wall artwork for over 30 years. He lives in Dewsbury and has a rug making company in Mirfield called Area Rugs. For WOVEN 2021 he worked on a joint textile commission with BEAM and WOVEN in Kirklees for Creative Town Dewsbury in Market Place, Dewsbury, called ‘Sculpting a Continent’.

Drawing attention to the increase of colossal icebergs, some the size of New York breaking off from Antarctica in ‘calving events’ as a result of climate change, the installation aimed to raise awareness about climate change and inspire people to make changes to lessen our impact on the environment.

Alongside the installation there was an exhibition space and workshop area set up so that the general public could have an opportunity to have a go at hand tufting and contribute to a community created hand tufted textile.

“People came past and wondered if it was a trampoline! I explained it was all about Antarctica, and I had some really nice conversations with people where I explained the thickness of the ice in some places was like the distance from Dewsbury to Wakefield. So they were realising these facts that I had written down and was spouting off about.”

Andrew’s planning and research for the project enabled him to develop his understanding of climate change and its effect on places like Antarctica. Not only did this shape the exhibition, it also allowed him to talk to audience members with confidence about our impact on the natural environment.

Despite a well-established career in textiles, the project has allowed Andrew to develop as an artist and has built confidence in his ability to produce work of public interest. Being part of the WOVEN programme has also given him a platform to show the diversity of his portfolio, enhancing his reputation in the local area.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve never managed to get into the public art realm so this was a really really good start for me. I’ve always struggled for years to be confident to do my own thing – why would people want to see it? And this project actually brought in a lot of ideas that I’ve always wanted to explore.
HATCH were really encouraging, really, really helpful. I didn’t know how to do Eventbrite tickets but she sat down with me and we did those, so I’ve learned that. I learned so many things.
Nat was really, really encouraging me to push the sculpture forwards – she suggested I make Yorkshire Sculpture Park aware that I’m a person doing sculptures in textiles and very local as well. So just the encouragement I got from that was amazing. It’s something that’s stuck with me.
A lot of people who know me in Dewsbury had no idea what I did. I think locally it’s been a great thing and even people I have known for quite some time who are quite high up in Kirklees Council, I don’t think they realised the kind of scope and the depth that I could do.”

Kirklees College has kindly agreed to give this textile sculpture a permanent home at the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre to showcase this locally made creative practice with locally sourced material from around the Heavy Woollen District of Dewsbury to stimulate conversations about climate issues.

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