Conversation with Heike Gerbig, Germany

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I …have been a writer and an editor for most of the 50 years it took me to discover the addictive powers of textile art …rarely touched a needle till then …now benefit greatly from that, for in blessed ignorance of techniques, styles, how-to’s I just go ahead an do things the way I feel they’ll work for me …mostly use vintage fabrics, hand dyed by myself, and repurposed materials which had a life of their own before they become part of my pieces …would like the onlooker to feel encouraged to slow down by my work, breathe, grab hold of own, perhaps only half remembered story threads …like to work in a dressing gown…

Conversations with the Maker (CWTM) Did you always envision a life as an artist?
Heike Gerbig(HG) I guess I did, yes.

CWTM Do you have a dedicated studio?
HG Sort of… I have a room where I keep fabrics and papers and other materials, with a table and chair, an ironing board (and a pet bed, when the cat-sharing cat is in residence…) But I don´t actually do much in there. It´s a mess. It´s sandwiched between the kitchens of 2 adjacent appartments, which I find decidedly anti-creative – and anyways: I believe in letting scraps and things drift towards each other on their own account – so most of the time I quietly close the door to that room and sit elsewhere…

Fibre Textile Artists Interviews

CWTM Can you describe a typical day?
HG A good one would be: getting up late, being left in peace, eating a hot breakfast, drinking black tea, doing a couple of hours of hand stitching and/or dyeing, eating lunch, going out for the afternoon, then working into the night.

CWTM Would you consider your art making to be more about the process than the outcome?
HG Yes.

CWTM Any indispensable tools or equipment?
HG Old fabrics. Paper. (Red) thread. Black tea. A needle. A sewing machine.

CWTM Do your pieces start with a planned course of action or are they more spontaneous?
HG I´m doing a lot more planning now than I did early on. In the beginning, I felt I had to jump into things like from a 10-m-board…

CWTM How do you know when to “stop” – when do you consider a piece actually finished?
HG When it feels just right, I guess… When there is time, I prefer to wait for pieces to announce themselves finished…

CWTM Your greatest source of inspiration is….
HG If I would live closer to nature, nature would be a main source I suppose – living in a city it´s a mosaic of tangled facets and fragments from streetlife, magazines, exhibitions, the internet…

CWTM Favourite quote?
HG “I laugh when I can, and I live with the rest…”

CWTM When do you do your best creative thinking?
HG When I´m left in peace, drinking tea, having eaten a hot breakfast.

CWTM What do you enjoy most about your work?
HG That it´s not 9 to 5. That it seems to keep me sane.

CWTM Best advice you´ve ever received?
HG I’ve always been quite immune against advice…

CWTM Worst advice you’ve ever received?
HG …which sometimes is an advantage…

CWTM Best part of your day?
HG When I´m getting up, and when I´m going to bed.

CWTM Who would be 6 people that you would invite to dinner?
HG Wouldn´t know how to cook dinner for 7.
CWTM What inspires your creativity?
HG I don’t drink. I don´t do drugs. I don´t smoke. Creative expression´s a neccessity to get some flow and thrill out of life…

Fibre Textile Artists Interviews

CWTM What are you excited about right now in the world of textile art?
HG Something else every day. I make a point – as I did already as a writer – of not looking too close at what others do…

Fibre Textile Artists Interviews

CWTM You’d be lost without…
HG A certain amount of peace and quiet…

CWTM What would you do with a few extra hours each day?
HG That wouldn´t change a thing. One never has enough time…

Fibre Textile Artists Interviews

CWTM Your favourite luxury in life?
HG Time. “Time brings everything. May I be granted with time”, as German novelist Thomas Mann once said…
CWTM Has the advancement of computers and technology impacted your work?
HG I only started that kind of work when information technology was in full swing already. I´m glad about the lots of international contacts the internet makes possible, for the “window into the world” it provides – but it can be a treadmill and a trap, too – inspiring, but more innutritious than a lot of people seem to think…

Fibre Textile Artists Interviews

CWTM Is it important for us to be recognized by the art world and if so, how can we help affect that change?
HG Of course it is. Be proud of what we do…

CWTM What is next for you?
HG Further mapping out my creative identity. Further exploring ways to melt fabric and paper, stitch and paint, images and words…

Fibre Textile Artists Interviews