Cally gave an inspiring talk on her life as a weaver from how she got started to the work she is doing now. She described her journey as a series of accidents! Cally lives and works in Dundee and her walk from home to her studio in an old jute mill takes her through a park, which is a source of inspiration to her. She makes scarves and wraps for retail, but not in huge quantities – each one is unique. She runs courses at her workshop, and now on line, and has been involved in a variety of collaborative creative projects.
Cally’s weaving career began in 2003, when her mother was unable to go to a weaving workshop she’d booked, and persuaded Cally to go in her place. She was hooked, and came home with a second-hand loom. Two years later she signed up for the Bradford Textile Course 2005-2007. In 2010 she acquired a Louet Megado 16-shaft mechanical dobby loom, and in 2012 was able to rent studio space in the newly refurbished Meadow Mill. The space was bigger than anticipated and enabled her to start running workshops. In 2019 a different space became available at the mill – lots of windows, so unattractive to artists who needed wall space, but ideal for weaving. In 2020 a Toika computer operated loom, ordered to replace the Louet Delta Cally used at home, arrived just as lockdown was starting, giving her the ideal opportunity to explore its possibilities.
Cally went on to talk about her weaving and how she produces some of the effects. First she showed us two pictures entitled Faces and Lines – a twill on the right with colour shading in the warp, and on the left a piece showing colour effects from changing from weft emphasis to balance to warp emphasis. Using double weave threading and a range of colour and treadling sequences she produces pieces with subtle curving lines; Mystery Beyond the Mountains is woven mostly in cotton, but the red thread between the black and white squares is wool, giving a 3D effect when washed. The pattern on the Graffiti scarves was not planned out beforehand, Cally improvised while weaving; however Yardage was carefully planned to get the tessellated leaf shape. The patterns headed Data reflect environmental statistics. Lost Ice for example represents the extent of the Polar ice sheet in 2016 (one pick represents one day) compared to the 30-year average.
Sound of the Sea resulted from a collaborative project with 5 other textile artists, and represents the spectrogram of the sound of the sea at Pittenweem. In 2019, Cally and brass worker Jen Stewart, using the sound waves from hand washing to Happy Birthday, created protective armour (Ceremonies of Safety). In October 2019 Cally was one of four Scots on an Applied Arts Scotland residency in Halifax Nova Scotia. They were paired with four locals – Cally with Andrea Tsang Jackson, a quilt maker. They used offcuts of material from a firm which makes children’s rainwear from recycled plastic; the end point of their work a video animation which Cally showed us. The residency was one week, so most of the communication was by phone, zoom etc. Cally’s current project is Sound + Weave + Video.