In the earliest years of the Grassimesse one of the more regularly encountered products was handwoven textiles, textiles being as they are and were the sort of product where the hand versus machine, craft versus industry, debates of the early 20th century can be particularly well, and particularly well focussed, undertaken. And that not least because textiles stand, in many regards, as a proxy for wider debates and discussions on the production of our objects of daily use; one thinks in particular of the rise of power looms in the course of the 18th century and the resistance of the weavers, not least the actual physical, bodily, resistance of the Luddites and their ilk who destroyed the new machines that were replacing their hands.
And although in the course of the 1930s ever more machine produced textiles appeared at the Grassimesse, including those from the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau’s DeWeTex brand or Berlin based Polytex who produced designs by, amongst others Bauhaus Dessau students, handwoven textiles remained a firm feature; not least through the presence of the likes of ex-Bauhäusler Else Mögelin or the (¿contra-?)Bauhäusler and (¿extremer-?)Hellerauer at the Loheland-Schule, Fulda.
And hand-weaving remains a firm feature of the Grassimesse to this day: if we counted correctly with Katja Stelz from Palingen, Linnea Blomgren from Stockholm and Andreas Möller from Hamburg, there are three handweavers at the 2023 edition, four if one adds the hand-knotted rugs by Michelle Mohr from Waddeweitz.
What makes Andreas Möller, for us, so interesting, is however less the textiles produced under the name Weberei Hamburg, whereby nothing against the textiles, technically or aesthetically.
But for us the more interesting component is Flying8, a self-build loom developed by Andreas, a self-build loom we first met in the Grassi Museum für Angewandte Kunst in context of the 2021 exhibition Cultural Affairs. Art without Borders; and a self-build loom which not only allows for lo-cost, lo-tech, local hand-weaving in global communities with little or no resources/sources of income, but also allows for lo-cost, lo-tech, local hand-weaving in your living room…….
…….don’t look at us like that!
We’ve not gone all William Morris, we’re not advocating a return to the Middle Ages where everyone practised a craft at home, although that said there is something very appealing in the thought of every home equipped with a 3D printer and a loom, give everyone a garden and your approaching self-sufficiency; however, aware as we all are of the problems of decentralised industrial production and the very real and very pressing needs to consider and implement alternatives the question of why not weave your own blankets, towels, cloths, rugs, clothing materials, wall hangings, etc, is difficult to avoid.
And not least because Flying8 makes it actually possible.
Whereby, OK, maybe not a loom in your actual living room, that space is any case taken up by your home office desk, or by your lathe; but let’s say a community loom, that not only allows everyone access to their individually designed and self-produced textiles, but which also in allowing access to individually designed and self-produced textiles forces reflections on where not only our textiles come from, how they are produced and if we actually need them, but where all our objects of daily use come from, how they are produced and if we actually need them. Or put another way Flying8 enables weaving to be the proxy for wider debates and discussions on the production of our objects of daily use it has long been.
In addition while the Flying8 is an easy to assemble loom, the dance with pedals and shuttles and colours and warp and weft and et al still has to be learned and practised, practised and practised. Which leaves you a lot less time for Instagram, TikTok, Zoom et al. And a lot more time for your own thoughts. And for those you share your house and life with.
Further information on Andreas Möller, Weberei Hamburg & Flying8 can be found at www.weberei-hamburg.com
And for all in or near Leipzig Andreas Möller, Weberei Hamburg & Flying8, and all the other handweavers, can be experienced at the Grassimesse, at the GRASSI Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Johannisplatz 5-11, 04103 Leipzig until Sunday 22nd October
Full details of the 2023 Grassimesse, including opening hours and ticket prices, can be found at www.grassimesse.de