Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meg Little in Orleans Sept 13 & 14

We're having a trunk show of Meg Little's hand-tufted wool rugs this month. She'll be at the Orleans gallery and available for consultations September 13 and 14, from 11am to 4pm.

There is no mistaking one of Meg Little's rugs. Her designs are instantly recognizable and her color work is literally inimitable.

There are two huge frames in Meg Little’s studio, occupying space from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall. Stretched across these frames is a strong polyester cloth that will back her rugs: her artist’s canvas. The design process does not start there, however. It begins with perhaps a gaze at her garden or at one of Little’s favorite painters. From her ideas, Meg will make an uncolored scale drawing and will then choose the colors using the studio floor for her palate.

With a keen sense of color and blending, Little selects her yarns, gathering and mixing four strands to produce one color. A rug that seems to be made up of five colors might include one hundred subtlely related colors. With the help of her assistant, order emerges from the heap on the floor, in the form of neatly wound balls of mixed yarn. Using soft charcoal, Little transfers her drawing freehand to the backing cloth.

After drawing out the design she can begin to hand-tuft the rug. This is done with a hand-held electric tool that punches the yarn through the stretched cloth, where it is eventually held in place with latex and covered with a lining of cotton and twill tape. With their looped pile, these rugs have the look of antique hooked rugs, but the laborious process of hand hooking has been replaced by a speedier more versatile technique.

Just as there is nothing old-fashioned about the rugs’ construction, there is nothing old-fashioned about their design. With two degrees in textiles from Tyler School of Art and Rhode Island School of Design, Little approaches traditional pattern and motif with a thoroughly modern eye. It was while teaching at Plymouth College of Art and design in England Little first learned this rug making technique which allows her to freely use color and yarn in a painterly fashion. Making hand made rugs has allowed her an unparalleled freedom, giving her the perfect opportunity to explore the interaction between color and pattern.

Meg Little’s work has been equally influenced by fine art and the long tradition of decorative arts. Her compositions use traditional motifs in a contemporary context, particularly in the way she breaks up space and manipulates scale. Although the designs and colors may be painterly, using multiple patterns and lyrical color mixes to define space and evoke movement, these rugs are not fake paintings. They are definitely meant to walked upon.

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