NO.20 JILLY EDWARDS: UP OUR STREET - 8 Holland Street's neighbours, near and far


"You weave from the bottom and, rather like building a wall, work in triangles and diamond shapes that interlock. The work is slow; you have to make sure that what you want to weave is in essence about you - that's what drives the weaving."


Newly established in her old haunt Bath - and just a stroll away from our gallery - Jilly Edwards is the doyenne of creative textiles. She talks us through the beginnings of each tapestry and the intricacies of her craft and, after moving house thirty times, feels settled... for the time being. 

From Jilly's bedroom window, the creamy spires and finials of Bath stretch up to the valley beyond and, though the paint is barely dry, she is very much settled in and seeking inspiration. "We just came into the Virgo moon," a serendipitous sign, she explains, "a time for moving forward and bringing forth your thoughts. From this new place and new view, I thought ‘this is it, this is what I’m doing next – here we are.'" The sketchbook came out and, some weeks later, the threads are - inch by inch - taking shape on the loom in her studio at the end of the garden.


It must be a comfort after moving house thirty times in her life to feel that, for now at least, there is no need to. The streets of Bath are somewhere she has had a familiarity with for five decades now, having lived on the Circus in the 70s. Touring exhibits of Jilly's work can do the travelling around for her now - and we hope she will call Bath home for a while yet.


'Elements' is the latest collection of weavings displayed exclusively at 8 Holland Street. They were produced at a time of great flux in Jilly's life. Landscapes are an integral inspiration to her work, but difficult times managed to thread their way into the works too. The preparatory paintings Jilly mocked up to hang from the loom as she worked told of black moods some days and great vibrant joys on others. "Surprising colours came in as I worked. 'Elements' really is elements of life and people will find their own elements within it; something of themselves."


The new studio displays each of the elements that go into Jilly's works: shelves of books to gather knowledge on anything from astrology to pottery, fifty years of scribbled sketchbooks with daubs of coloured crayons and splashes of paint, the vivid and ordered yarns in deep cupboards. The loom itself, with a tapestry in progress, is too enticing a thing not to peer in at. The curtain of warp is steadily worked into all manner of patterns and shades by threads with shining wooden bobbins at the end. As it simmers into life, a project will fill Jilly's hours, "I may do fifty or hundred drawings whilst I'm looking into a subject and end up with just one weaving. It may become a whole series, like 'Elements'. You never know what it’s going to develop into or what it stirs in you."  


Busy with the Virgo moon and with her feet firmly in Bath - under the loom - for now, she's delighting in being back. The Georgian city's sweep is on her doorstep, the lush countryside a few minutes stroll away: "luckily, you can walk into the Royal Crescent or the Circus on a nice flat path across the park from here. The rest of Bath - a bit like all this warp - just seems to be vertical!"


The 'Elements' collection is made up of nine framed tapestries ('Elements VIII" has now sold) and is on display at 8 Holland Street Bath.



Installation Views