Prague teachers to present ‘talking weaves’ project to Leeds schools as part of 2023 festival

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“I am a visual artist and Atelierista of Early Childhood at the International School of Prague. An Atelierista is an artist educator who works with children to help them explore different languages ​​and methods of creation. In my spaces the children are artists rather than students!

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They have created ‘talking weaves’ with their pupils and want to bring the project to Leeds as part of the LEEDS 2023 school projects.

Our 5 and 6 year old classes have been working on a project which is about telling stories through weaving, and we want to bring it to children in Leeds as part of LEEDS 2023.

The idea for the project was born last year when I started learning to weave on my own. I was working with a group of kids who were sewing at school and one of the kids asked what else we could make with yarn.

I spent the whole summer weaving bits of yarn, playing with patterns and experimenting with colors. You can create something tactile and beautiful and I knew the kids would love it.

As I created more and more weavings at home, I started thinking about the connection between weaving yarn and weaving stories. I wondered what kind of stories a weave would tell if it could talk, and I knew I had to share my idea with Elizabeth, a fellow teacher and technology expert at school.

Akshaya Krishnamoorthy and Elizabeth Perry are teachers at the International School in Prague.

Elizabeth Perry continues.

“I met Akshaya for a coffee and she asked me if I thought it was possible to talk about weaving using technology. I think she expected me to say no, but my answer was “yes! I think we could do that! I was really interested in the connection between the words ‘textile’ and ‘text’ and I knew that our students could create something incredible.

It sounds complex, but making a weaving speech is actually quite simple. Kids create their weaves, record their own stories, then clip metal clips through the weave into an electrical circuit that’s hooked up to a laptop computer.

When you touch the fasteners, the stories play out loud. We’ve had stories about everything from a magical snail that turns animals into ballerinas, to how the world was created. The kids named the project The Weaving Giant, which I think is absolutely perfect.

Some people think technology is too difficult for a 5 or 6 year old to understand, but they couldn’t be more wrong. We don’t give young children enough credit or autonomy; they are natural problem solvers and they pick things up incredibly quickly.

We are now working with the LEEDS 2023 team on ideas to bring The Weaving Giant to Leeds as part of the school boards project. We saw the app at the very last minute and had to try it – we knew very little about the history of the textile industry in Leeds but when we read it we couldn’t believe how relevant this project was.

It fit the local context of Leeds very well! We could imagine school children making their own weavings and recording stories about their life and community.

We came to Leeds last weekend to hold a first workshop at Tetley with teachers and artists. They wove on laser-cut looms and tinkered with technology, and we had amazing conversations about what we could do. The fact that a conversation we had in a cafe in Prague could reverberate across Leeds and maybe even further afield – it’s magic.

Berta D. Wells