Frances Crowe is a tapestry artist, DCCI member and Contemporary Tapestry Artists Ireland (CTA) member based in Roscommon. She creates unique and original artworks in the woven image.
Frances explores the personal landscape of emotion and memory in her tapestries, recording world events for posterity. Displacement, separation, climate change and global warming are a constant theme in her most recent body of work.
During the Covid pandemic lockdown she created a series of works documenting the current and ongoing phases of recovery, and reopening of the economy.
Her latest large scale tapestry titled Torn apart was woven in 2019 for the third Interconnections exhibition.
Frances worked with 9 other Irish fine art weavers to create the TIMELINES On the Edge tapestry, currently on show in the Made in Ireland exhibition at the National Design & Craft Gallery.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
A typical day in my studio revolves around time spent at the loom or the upright tapestry frame. Many long hours and days go into the creation of one piece. Warp and weft, over under, over under, as the tapestry grows. Blending yarns to achieve the correct shade and pallet of colours, winding bobbins, thinking and planning for the next work while continuing to make the present piece. Sketching, drawing, designing, are all part of the day.
What do you like most about your work?
The connection between the hands, the materials, the mind, and the creation. The isolation, the quiet space created between and within the making.
What do you like least about your work?
When the tapestry is finished it needs to be cut from the loom. That is always exciting, when you hold a work in your hands after living with it attached to the loom for months. However, the next stage is my least liked job of work – finishing the threads that hang at the back, sewing slits, making hems, blocking the tapestry, and finding the most suitable way to display or hang the work.
What’s your favourite craft item in your home?
It has to be a beautiful hand-thrown ceramic lamp, which I swapped for a tapestry wall hanging many years ago with Michael Kennedy, now deceased.
As with all craft careers, you need dedication, honing of skills, practice, and total commitment.
What other maker in your discipline do you most look up to?
There are many. All of my colleagues in CTA and Timelines, along with the members of Interconnections. I will name one Polish tapestry artist, Wlodzimierz Cygan, for his innovative fiber optic works and American tapestry weaver Erin M. Riley for her commentary on society wall hangings.
What advice would you give someone who is considering this craft career?
This particular craft career is tricky to advise about, as it usually finds you, you fall in love and remain dedicated to it for life. It becomes your partner and gives solace, meditation and peace when needed. It is very slow, so from a production point of view it is impossible. As with all craft careers, you need dedication, honing of skills, practice, and total commitment.
How do you start your day?
My day starts early with a cup of tea in bed, along with the laptop. Checking out social media, updating submissions, emails, and opportunities. Followed by a long walk to clear my head, and coming up with solutions for current designs and work.
What’s the first thing you do when you leave the studio?
I am fortunate to have my studio at my home. When I leave the studio at about 5pm, I usually collapse on the couch, in front of the fire and chat with my sisters on WhatsApp, before dinner with the family. Hubby usually cooks.