South London-based Catarina Riccabona is a textile designer and weaver, who makes throws, cushions and blankets by hand. She uses unbleached and undyed linen in the warp; and linen, hemp, wool, alpaca and second-hand or recycled yarn in the weft. She also uses waste warps from fellow weavers – the final meter of a warp on a loom which cannot be woven and is usually thrown away. She adds color using plant-dyed wool from Finland or recycled linen from a UK company which processes industrial surplus into new yarn.
“The technique essentially hasn’t changed since the beginning,” she says. “Weaving was always a combination of two systems of threads, one running lengthwise, one running across. Because it’s simple and that has been valuable for so long and still is, it’s just something that’s everywhere. I think is quite powerful. There’s always evidence of the human hand, the fact that it’s not one-to-one reproducible. It makes it a testimony of one moment.”
She retrained at London’s Central Saint Martins after realizing that an office-based job was not for her. “A tutor told me that creativity is just one element, the question is much more what is your personality – are you motivated to get up and create your own structure for the day? That gave me some sense of empowerment. I thought, ‘OK, I can do that. It’s down to me – I don’t need the permission of someone else.'”
She is based in Deptford co-working space Cockpit Arts as the result of a grant awarded to weavers to encourage the craft. “I remember when I first entered that studio, I literally jumped around like a little kid and had tears in my eyes,” she says. “I couldn’t believe my luck to have a studio. London is great, for a craftsperson like me – to live, to work, to survive. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that – and it’s very connected to my personal journey.”