Marianne Kemp is a Dutch textile designer who specializes in working with a rather uncommon fiber: horsehair. This material is extremely unusual but also very versatile. Through Marianne Kemp’s skillful hands, it is transformed into wall panels, window panels, clothes, jewellery, and various interior design items. And if the material alone is not enough to make you fall in love with her work, the unconventional patterns allowing for amazing color combinations will definitely win you over! Marianne Kemp talks about herself in this interview to be read in one breath.
D: I was really impressed by your style, so modern and innovative. In your approach, I see some similarities with Modernism and Bauhaus movement. Do you agree?
M: I love Bauhaus textiles. Besides that is the colour combinations which you can easily recognise as the Bauhaus. My starting point many years ago was about patterns and colours combinations. But since 2001 I’m more interested in texture of fabric. How can I create texture in fabric using the weaving technique in combination with an extra material like horsehair. To bring the weaving technique further than just stripes or beautiful woven fabric. I have a love for installations, which broadens my view in using different materials and create 3D effects. I love architecture designs for lines and surfaces; weaving is architecture in it’s smallest way; horizontal and vertical, maybe you can see this as Modernism.
D: another thing I find really interesting about you is your favorite material: horsehair. Would you like to talk about this choice?
M: horsehair is a beautiful material which got a natural shine and great texture to work with. I have tried other, not natural materials but it doesn’t work for me. I also work with certain tree fibres but horsehair is my all time favourite combined with linen or wool it gets the natural feel to the fabric which gives the end result character. Also horsehair is a very strong fibre, I can make great texture in fabric with it. I still haven’t finished with it, still got many ideas I have to explore. Besides the strength and shine I also of a large range of coloured horsehair, it is a delight to work with this material.
Marianne Kemp and the textile world
D: interior design items, clothes, textiles, installations, 3D objects. Your work with textiles is really multifaceted. Is there something you have not experimented with yet, that you would like to try your hand at?
M: few years ago I made some samples for outside products/art. This is something I would love to dive deeper into. Last June I made a large weaving for an art project outside. It was much harder than I expected beforehand. It is not so simple to translate small fragile techniques with rough materials on larger scale. I would love to bring that project further. On the other hand I would love to do more collaborations with other creatives. By working together and also with other materials, it gives fresh ideas for application.
D: weaving is a very slow creative process. I imagine it requires a lot of patience. How did you develop a passion for such a demanding means of expression?
M: when I weave it is quiet and I can concentrate at my best. It is the only moment of the day that I do one thing at the time and think about one thing at the time. Some call it meditating. My hands need to do something to give my brain rest. While weaving, having the threads in my hands, new ideas for designs come up.
Marianne Kemp. Open soul in her works.
D: where were you born? How did your birthplace shape the person you have become?
M: I was born in Woerden Holland. What was special about my birthplace is that there was so much space around the house and we had a huge shed. My father kept lots if things. So as girl I collected things that I found interesting in the garden or shed and make them into objects, hairpins, or soldering jewelry, cutting wood, making clocks. Since than I have a love for going to brocante markets and junks sales, I also have a large collection of ‘interesting stuff’. You can also still find some interesting old textiles. I found that before I got into textiles I had a wider interest in making things, not only textiles, so maybe in the future I will get back into making objects again with not only textiles.
D: would you like to tell me something about your work, hchwa-d? I adore it and I would love to know more about it.
M: all my works have a different starting point, sometimes it is a technique, sometimes it is a ‘texture’ I saw some which I want to reproduce in the weaving technique. Most of the time the way I get my ideas is while I’m weaving something, having the material in my hands. Funny you mention HCHWA-D, this piece I created while my father was getting diagnosed with dementia, HCHWA-d is the specific name of what he has. In the period when this disease appeared I was weaving this piece. When I sat behind my loom, I thought of my father and thought about the gaps that where falling in his brain, memory loss. This piece was weaving itself under my hands I had no plan.
D: which book would you recommend to someone who is interested in textile art?
M: weaving as Metaphor by Sheila Hicks. When I give workshop weaving to beginners this is the best book. Another great inspiration is Peter Collingwood, he had a total other way of weaving. He thought of a design and if it wasn’t possible to make with the loom he had, he would simply adjust the loom, also not afraid of using a saw. So he did not let the loom and its limits stop his ideas of making new kind of textiles. Jessica Hemmings is textiles expert who wrote a few interesting books on textiles.
Marianne Kemp’s website
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