Meet the Maker: Gal Leshem

(Gal in her studio)

Gal Leshem is a multidisciplinary artist based in London, who is passionate about using her artistic practice to socially engage communities. Gal is also one of Goldfinger Academy’s expert crafts people, leading workshops in weaving, one of the oldest surviving crafts in the world.

Since graduating her BA in Fine Art and Art History at Goldsmiths University, and throughout her MA at the Slade School of Art, Gal has developed a practice using textiles, print, ceramics and video to create engaging projects and workshops for varied groups of people.

In 2017, Gal was artist in residence at Tate Modern and Tate Britain School Workshop Programme. In 2017-18 she was part of Up Projects' Constellations, a research and development programme for artists working in community contexts. 

We caught up with Gal to find out why she loves sharing the magic of her craft with others.

(Gal uses natural dyes, weaving, knotting and sewing in her work to create texture)

Could you introduce your practice... 

I am a multidisciplinary artist, but the core of my work is textiles. I work with many fibre-based methods. I use natural dyes to dye my fabrics, I weave, knot, stitch and sew. 

Every work that I make requires a different process, and every process allows for a different making experience. Usually I’ll also research the origin of the process I’m using and that will inform the work. 

I’m currently finishing a long project that explores the histories of a specific dye plant called Rubia Tinctorum. The process led me to follow old dye recipes, travel to different places to document the origins of the plant and make a few textile pieces that reflect its cultural context and uses. 

Looking for Rubia Tinctorum by Gal Leshem)

What piece of work are you most proud of and why? 

I recently made a tiny tapestry for an exhibition I was invited to take part in. As I usually make very large scale works this was a new kind of challenge. I was really happy with the outcome because it made me go back to the basics - pick up my frame loom, use dyed yarns that I had and create a simple but effective shape. The meditative qualities of weaving also gave me exactly what I needed at that moment. 

(Gal is passionate about using her artistic practice to socially engage communities)

What do you want people to take away from your classes? 

The weaving classes provide participants with easy access into the rich world of weaving. Weaving is a very meditative, slow process that has endless possibilities in terms of what you can make. The great thing about the sessions is that you really get to experience the magic of making a tapestry from scratch: building your own loom, using materials that you are excited by and very quickly you will have made an amazing object that didn't exist before. 

The sessions are structured in a way that allows people to learn a few basic techniques which they can later apply to any weaving project they have in mind. 

It is very important for me that by the end of the class people will understand the logic of weaving (rather than follow a few instructions) so that they can develop their own ideas and follow their own creativity. I think anyone can be a maker and I’m really excited about adding some new tools to their creative toolbox.