A Model Group Member? Reflections on the ETN by Andrea Milde PDF  | Print |  E-mail

I met Joe at the last Conference of the European Textile Network in Kaunas, Lithuania, in September 2011.  When he e-mailed me asking for my perspective on why I became member of this group, and why I should encourage other people to join, I first thought of myself as a model group member, although I am not quite certain about this.  Regardless, I will summarize my experience and reflections as a group member having little time to think about it. 


Some participants of the 16th ETN Conference at the garden of the Čiurlionis Museum in Kaunas photo by  Remis Scerbauskas ©2011


I will begin referring to the background where I grew as a person and as an artist.  I'll start with the simple  geographic layout which runs through  my development as a person and artist: I was born in Germany where my parents lived in the eastern periphery, in time I took the reins the took of my life and a backpack and travelled independently for a few years within Europe and a little further. I spent a period of more then two years in France learning my trade, weaving pictorial tapestries. Then I moved to Spain where I’ve lived for about 20 years.  During this period, I learned to live without deep and solid attachments to places, adapting to different cultural contexts and learning several of the languages spoken in Europe today. I trained myself to get soaked under the rain falling in every place I visited and nourish my imagination with things I saw and heard during my trips. I learned to accept, appreciate and compare difference recognizing what was good and life affirming while reject that which wasn’t.  I embraced my European identity in a very positive, constructive, and wide sense.
ETN members map
 I don’t recall how long ago I joined ETN.  It has been several years since, though I must admit, through most of them I was silent or in the shadow because my daily life took all my time and efforts. There was no time for an own artistic production and, therefore, there was nothing to be shown and only occasionally could I participate in conferences, talks or exhibitions. During all that as a “passive member”, ETN helped me as a link with the “outer and professional world”. The Newsletters and the Textile Forum magazine and later the virtual space, became the link that went on nourishing me with information. The ETN supplied contacts, involved me in debates, kept me updated about the new initiatives, the gradual changes that took place in this particular world of the “textile”, the streams that were being created and also the islands resistant to winds and tides of those changes.
 AM and Friend
Above all, my connection with ETN helped me to deal with a feeling of loneliness fuelled by my peripheral positioning (partly sought and partly a consequence of my situation as perpetual guest while travelling), offered me a wide frame in which to place my work, a scale outside my own purely subjective criteria with which to measure and contrast it, and a versatile context in which to include it, to counteract the absorption that isolation provokes and to become aware of the fact that, although we are few, we are fighting to survive, that it is worth battling and that together it is easier to get out from this battle with possibilities of survival for that that fulfills us: the textile world.
So far, this is what I can tell you about the reasons that made me become a member and stay in ETN. What about the reasons to continue being a member in these times of crisis when everyone thinks twice before money on anything? I’d be lying if I say that it hasn’t come to my mind, though very briefly I must admit, the possibility of quitting from ETN, although temporarily, until the worst part of this crisis finishes.The present situation affects negatively and directly all of us who work with arts and culture. Sadly, money for the arts and related activities is the first things to bet cut  in times of crisis.The benefits of belonging to a network such as ETN are not necessarily immediate but rather gradual and continuous, and in the long run and they may even not be directly for yourself, as it has a caring component, understanding that, what benefits others in a different place or time, also benefits the cause that makes me still feel part of this “textile world” The conviction that it is precisely in these moments when we must strongly support this type of Cultural network because they help us to keep focused despite our fears, our daily fight for survival and keep our connection to a larger world view

Text by: Andrea Milde

Translation by: Marisa Fernandez
Orginal Spanish version on next page

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