The Tug of Warp, 16” x 20”, 2009

The Tugged Warp

Caitlin Erskine-Smith

A Space Windows

February 19 – March 27, 2010

The Tugged Warp explores the transformative process wherein autonomous agents became collaborative partners through the struggle of bound weaving. The performance and remnants on exhibition bear witness to the negotiated processes of production. 

Performed at Nuit Blanche in Toronto and Nocturne in Halifax, two artists wove on separate looms attached by a single warp. Positioned metres apart they wove their distinct patterns, slowly tugging their looms closer to each other until they met. The closer the two became, the more difficulties they faced as each weaver’s actions impacted upon the other, forcing the artists to develop forms of communication to continue their work.

Each performance met with its own set of challenges: winds and rain swept through Clarence Square the night of Nuit Blanche, leaving the artists facing tangled threads, flying branches and mud; at Nocturne the threads snapped as the weavers pulled forward. Each evening’s labour was about a single project resulting in two distinct works as the warp was sliced in half, highlighting the struggle, negotiation and the possible synchronization of the weaving process.


Caitlin Erskine-Smith has studied in Europe, South America and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Building on these experiences of intercultural dialogue and divergence, she is particularly interested in the ways in which intended and communicated meaning can be estranged. Focusing on textiles, her work incorporates traditional techniques to consider modern conflicts of identity, language, and change. She has recently exhibited across Ontario, in Halifax and Korea.