When the Midlands Textile Forum decided on this title for an exhibition to be staged at the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham, (on from now until 30th September), I had to smile!  I could just imagine certain men of my acquaintance brightening up with the titivating thought of what they might see!!  But they would be disappointed.

Not in terms of the quality of work on show, but in the subject matter. 

Exotica refers to the plants that can be found at the Botanical Gardens which, although not large (15 acres), is perfectly formed!  Just like the exhibition.  22 works are shown by 17 artists in a long thin gallery with good lighting and plenty of space around the exhibits. 

Themes are good for exhibitions.  One study day at the Gardens led to different interpretations from each artist, and the range of textile techniques used, the different approaches, the different subject matter taken from the Gardens worked well together.

Themes are also good for individual artists developing their work.  I used to be a total scatterbrain, tempted by a myriad of techniques, a wealth of subject matter and influenced by everything.  (Some would say that I still am but I suspect they don’t know what I was like before!!!) 

For me, finding weaving was a turning point in my life.  From living the life of a musician, I found myself pulled to weaving.  It stimulated my brain cells, helped me to look at life with the eyes of a visual artist, and challenged me in many different ways.  Then, in 2006, I got the book Above The Earth.  Casually flicking through this lovely coffee table book, I was taken over by a total certainty that I had now found my genre in weaving – a total expression through weaving of what I am about.  I still have that feeling today, and am aware that this will probably be with me all my life.  Satellite and aerial images of the unpopulated areas of the world, away from the obvious visual physical damage that humans have perpetrated on this lovely planet, inspire me with thoughts of how to affect people’s perception of their world through weaving. 

The limitations of having a theme can be a positive thing – a jumping off point for delving deeper.  Limits are good for stimulating creative thought and lateral thinking.  As a child, how often can boredom develop into imaginative ideas for play, for making something out of materials close at hand.  I know for me as a child that I developed some crazy ideas that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, but I always had fun finding out. 

Now I have found my theme for weaving, my world is opening up in ways unimaginable to me before. 

Do you have something that inspires you in a similar way?  Do you want one?  Sometimes just thinking about it can help address that overwhelming feeling that can come from too much choice.  Perhaps this week might be a good time to ponder what you want to be your special theme…..