Ann Richards

A biologist by training, I draw on the forms and function of living things as a source of ideas for woven textiles. I make strongly textured and elastic fabrics, whose form emerges naturally from the contrasting properties of different yarns and weave structures. My textiles undergo a surprising transformation from the smooth, flat state they have on the loom, to the pleated textures that they assume when they are wet-finished. As water is absorbed, energy trapped within the fabric is released and spontaneous shrinking and spiralling movements of the yarns cause the fabric to ‘pleat itself’.

Recently, I have begun to apply additional techniques to modify and extend these ‘emergent’ forms, with an increasing emphasis on combining traditional materials with more unconventional yarns. In the "Steelpleat" fabric that I developed for jewellery, the energy from high-twist silk gives a naturally resilient pleated texture, while the high metal content gives a temporary `memory' for additional pleating and shaping. So this `hybrid' mix of textile and metal generates unique qualities that neither material could achieve alone, creating textile jewellery that is flexible, lightweight and comfortable to wear. In working towards the “Bees” exhibition, I became particularly interested in honeybees and the honeycombs they build. These are fascinating structures, whose intricate texture is very beautiful, and so I have produced a group of neckpieces relating to this theme, combining techniques of weaving, folding and stitching to create cellular structures that echo the form of the honeycomb.

1947, London

1987 West Surrey Coll. of Art & Design. Higher Dipl. in Woven textiles
1972 Chelsea College, University of London. M.Sc. Applied Hydrobiology
1969 University Coll. of N Wales, Bangor. Zoology/Marine Biology

2006 Garnindkøbsforeningsprisen (Danish Yarn Association Prize)
1996 David Canter Memorial Fund Grant, Whitchurch Silk Mill.
1989 1st Prize (MITI Award), 4th International Textile Design Contest, Tokyo, Japan.

Recent exhibitions
 Digital Experience. Walford Mill Crafts, Wimborne, Dorset.
2006 Striber til Stol og Krop (Stripes for Chair and Body). Rundetaarn, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2006 Lægge i læg (Putting Pleats into Place) - Textile Jewellery and Scarves by Ann Richards.
Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
2003 Artists at Work: New Technology in Textiles and Fibre Art. Museo del Tessuto, Prato, Italy.
2001 On Growth and Form: textiles and the engineering of nature, Textile Museum of Canada.
2000 Design World 2000. Helsinki Design Museum, Finland.

2006 “Silk Pleat” scarf. Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen, Denmark.
1993 Tablecloth for NorthGuild, Southampton City Arts
1990 Pleated scarf for Våv Magasinet, Glimåkra, Sweden.

Public Collections
Crafts Council, London;
Deutsches Teknikmuseum, Berlin; 
Fashion Foundation, Tokyo; 
Hove Museum & Art Gallery; 
Art Gallery, Gateshead;
Textile Collection, University College for the Creative Arts, Farnham.





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