Brown Linen – Jeanette Sendler

13 Sept – 2 Nov 2008 at St Andrews Museum. Following the success of a highly productive artist’s residency with Fife Arts Co-operative in Newburgh, Jeanette Sendler has put together a body of work which is inspired by the town, its history and traditions, in which she’s lived for the past year.

‘Brown Linen’ indicates the fact that Newburgh never produced ‘White Linen’ which eventually brought about the death of the village’s cottage weaving industry. Many years later, the linoleum industry brought back high numbers of employment. The patterns and colours used in the floor cloth designs and the employment made Newburgh a happier place.

Patterns have been developed over centuries. It is a way of mark making on paper which only invited/skilled people can read. It is a kind of secret coding for members of the weave, knit, print or tailoring society. It ensures that a skill gets passed on to the next generation.

150 years after the handloom industry of Fife come to an end, Jeanette Sendler learned to weave in Newburgh. The jute history of Dundee and Fife influenced her choice of material – linen and jute. She created fabric bearing adapted patterns of the floor cloth and lino dating from 1870s to the 1940s.

The challenge for her was to work the woven material into 3-dimensional shapes to bring alive the people behind the past story. The show therefore represents a culmination of old and new skills which she has gathered over the years, such as tailoring, knitting, felting, printing and weaving. All the techniques used are for making cloth.