Today’s Material Arts Lecture – Dr Keireine Canavan

It was great to have so many interested and attentive students from UWIC’s BA Textile and Ceramics programmes gathered at Llandaff Campus today to hear the first material Arts lecture ‘Traditions and Cultures: Middle East’.

I would also like to thank Stuart Neil for his introduction to WordPress Blogging, and for the comments I have received to date.

If you have any further questions or comments to make about the lecture or Sadu weaving, I would be delighted to hear from you.

Good luck with your blogging and reflective journals, which I look forward to reading.




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42 responses to “Today’s Material Arts Lecture – Dr Keireine Canavan

  1. julie rees

    Hi Keireine, this is the first time i have done this so fingers crossed i am in the right blog ! I really enjoyed your lecture yesterday and found it fascinating the way that the patterns produced are all forms of expression and how they tell a story and give so much info on the type of tribe they are from . You hear such awful things about this country , it must have been quite frightening for you but when you see the beautiful pictures of your “office” and how welcoming the people were and the skill and craftmenship that goes into these beautiful pieces , it just makes you feel quite humble. I will follow with interest , a diamond shape will never be just a pattern anymore !

    • alsaduweaving

      Hey Julie. I was really touched by your comments – thank you, It makes the work all worth while, if we can share and distribute knowledge about countries and cultures we generally don’t know very much about. Kuwait is a wonderfully exciting place, where the people are warm and hospitable, but you are right; the unknown is frightening at first, but different cultures’ humanity is so often portrayed through the traditional language of textiles, which makes exploring and researching them so wonderful. Keep looking at diamonds! Keireine

  2. becarina

    I found your lecture interesting because I never think about other peoples reasons for putting patterns on their textiles(pretty silly considering we all analyse our own work constantly). I also never considered the use of fabrics and how important they would be to the life of people in Bedouin tribes. Thanks for making me think about these things.

    • alsaduweaving

      Thank you for commenting, and I am glad you found the lecture interesting and made you consider things that you might not have thought about previously. I am delighted when I am able to share something of the work I am researching with others who might not have had the chance to travel to the Middle East, and experience the wonders of Sadu textiles. Keireine

  3. Johnathan English

    Hi Dr Canavan…
    Having attended the lecture the other day which you presented at Llandaff I must admit to being left quite confused…
    Whilst I enjoyed the lecture itself, and wrote three pages of notes on what you talked about, I find it difficult to understand, as a ceramics student, the relevance…
    Please excuse my ignorance maybe Im a little slow!!
    I must say however that I found your lecture very well presented and the content well reserched and interesting…
    Having travelled myself to the middle east I can appreciate the work involved in your research…
    Kind regards…
    Johnathan English.

    • alsaduweaving

      Johnathan – thank you for your comments, and I am glad you enjoyed the content of the presentation, if not the relevance to you as a ceramicist. I think surface decoration must be one of mans’ earliest expressive forms, whether it be on ancient barkcloth textiles or sods. Where did you travel in Middle East? Would be good to exchange cultural experiences. Keireine

  4. Jennifer Kirkham

    Your lecture really interested me. A culture and topic I had never heard of before so I found it all intriguing. What i found most interesting throughout the whole lecture was the interpretation of the symbols that they incorporate within their weaving. I have never seen the use of symbols as a way of expression, using words would always be my first point of call however learning about their lifestyle and influences changed my views.
    Thankyou for introducing me to a new topic.

  5. Thank you for the lecture last Wednesday. For some odd reason, I found that the fact deserts are really quite rocky rather fascinating!
    I have to say, I knew nothing about the Bedouin tribe (or middle eastern textiles for that matter!) before the lecture, so I definitly learnt alot, especially about symbols. I look foreward to hearing mroe about your reasearch.


  6. Aisha

    In response to the lecture we had, I found it very interesting, being from the middle east myself I found I could relate to alot of what you were telling me. What I found most intriguing was the stories behind the symbols, the colours and the decrotive parts of the weave i.e the tassels. I liked that different tribes were represented differently through different weaves and decorations. I wouldn’t of thought so much thought and planning was put into the process of weaving. I deffinatly have enjoyed learning more about weaving, especially in relation to a part of my own culture.

    • alsaduweaving

      Aisha, I am delighted you enjoyed learning more about you own culture and hope you found the lecture respectful and full of admiration for this wonderful craft and Bedouin people. Masalama. Keireine

  7. Manisha Harkins

    I thoroughly enjoyed your lecture, which was, yet again, a reminder of how much textiles convey to us beyond mere aesthetics and just the pleasure of looking at and displaying them. It was fascinating to have a glimpse of the Kuwaiti bedouin culture via their painstakingly woven Al Sadu textiles, and what the patterns and symbols mean to their tribes and to Kuwait itself. In that respect, it seems all the more vital to support your work and that of your colleagues in Kuwait, in the hopes that we can not only record the language of Al Sadu weaving, but also encourage new generations to weave in the same way and preserve their prescious traditions.

    • alsaduweaving

      Manisha, You empathise my thoughts entirely. I believe it is essential for Kuwait and it’s people to recognise and support the importance of Al Sadu and for future generation to respect and understand this craft form, before it is lost forever. Thank you, and also for your recent and very interesting article, published in UAE’s The National. Keireine

  8. jasmine harrold

    I found wednesday’s lecture on Al Sadu weaving interesting. As we were taught about not only the weaving itself, but also about Kuwait as a place. I thought the most interesting part about the weaving was the symbols which are used to represent objects and animals. I also liked that the colours used in Al Sadu weaving have a meaning. I find it a shame that there are so few Al Sudo weavers left in Kuwait, and think the work you’re doing there is important as theres so little information availble about this type of weaving. Jasmine

    • alsaduweaving

      Jasmine. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts. I shall be publishing further information as my research develops and hopefully present additional public lectures and conference papers (please see below). Keireine

  9. hannah d

    Hello! I also found your lecture extremely interesting. I was completely oblivious to the Al Sadu weavings of the Bedouin communities – thank you for opening my eyes! I was particularly intrigued by the traditional techniques used, which can be rare to find in the 21st century. I loved the bold colours used within the weaves as well as the symbolism of the different shapes created in the fabric. I also appreciated how the simple patterns and shapes can tell a story regarding everyday life for the Bedouin communities!

  10. I have finally done it, so i hope enjoy my blog (it is under this name).


  11. I’ve written a piece about your lecture on my own blog, the link is below (hope it works!);

    • alsaduweaving

      you need to invite me to view it….. Keireine

      • I’ve copied and pasted it below to make things easier 🙂

        Wednesday 29th September 2010

        My first lecture at university! I really enjoyed my first lecture, it was so interesting! My favourite part was the symbols and how the such simple drawings can mean so much and tell stories. The slideshow was eye-opening because Kuwait as a country is so simple humble, it shows just how many of us take life for granted. The Al Sadu weaves are so beautiful and I cant believe the size of most of them. I’d love to travel to Scotland to see these with my own eyes. Overall I’ve taken in so much from this lecture and simple shapes will never just be simple shapes again! Thanks Keireine!


      • alsaduweaving

        Rebekah – I hope you are still inspired, as you move on with your textile studies. Keireine

  12. Hi Keireine,

    I am currently writing a piece in response to your lecture, with added information about my trip to Morocco- Marrakech this summer. I also did research into weaving out there and have found it very interesting that the colours and patterns used are very similar to those of the Sadu textiles. I will be unloading my piece to my blog but there is alot on my blog currently if you have time. Thankyou again for the inspiring lecture, I wish we could have more.
    Bethie Helliwell

  13. Hello, I am a ceramic student but was very interested in the information and experience you have gained in Kuwait. I am keen to learn more about the intricate weaving and can’t wait for next weeks lecture. Would it be possible for you to send me some of the images featured in your power point today and their sources please as I am eager to write and reflect on it in my person journal.


    • alsaduweaving

      Hi Jess. I am glad you enjoyed the lecture. I am delivering another presentation at Material Matters conference Goldsmith’s London Uni on 14 Oct and another WIRAD: DIGIT research lecture at Howard Gardens 24 Nov at 5.30pm. You can download some images from my blog, or if you let me know your needs, I can send you something. Keireine

  14. Hello :), i hope i am writing where i am supposed to be as im not the best on the computer. i really enjoyed your talk today and i learnt so much about how different patterns can mean different things. i found this really interesting as i have never really thought about how patterns can mean so much more. i learnt so much about the culture that i never knew about so thank you for making me realise how fascinating this culture really is.

    Rebecca keane

    • alsaduweaving

      Rebecca – thank you for your kind comments. I am delighted you found the lecture about Bedouin culture fascinating; that means so much to me. Keep searching and exploring in your own work, and find your own life-interests – it will take you far. Keireine

  15. alexandra brace

    Hey Keireine,

    I found the lecture earlier today interesting mostly the fact that they dont pay taxes or bills 🙂

    In regards to the textiles (weaving) I found it really interesting the fact that the bedowiun women are illiterate but yet are able to translate what they see into pieces of art.

    But at the same time the pieces of art are more than textiles they are their lives, without these textiles it seems they wont be able to survive, as they are nomads and dont get the same treatment as everybody else. This really grabbed my attention as The work itself had a strong/deep meaning.

    Also it did sadden me that this type of weaving will not exist for much longer and by you letting us get an isight into your knowledge it could be the start of keeping this skill alive.

    Alex Brace

    • alsaduweaving

      Alex – your comments are thrilling. You are right; these women were essential for traditional Bedouin lifestyle. Women weavers were the architects and providers of shelter, bedding, storage bags and cushions and carpets to sit and walk upon. Their aesthetic visions were portrayed through their choice of colour and symbolic expression of their environment, their belongings, their jewellery, animals, customs (coffee pots and dates) etc. Dr Ali Alnajadah and I are working hard with Sadu House in Kuwait to preserve something of this beautiful craft before it is too late. Keireine

  16. keireine,
    As i have never blogged before in my life, this is a first so apologies for a slow reaction!
    I enjoyed your lecture yesterday on the Al Sadu weaving and the bedouin culture hugely. I was humbled by the skill and commitment of these women to their work and by the beautiful results achieved from such primitive equipment!
    Their nomadic lifestyle is one that i admire and also crave for although i am sure i have romanticised it in my head and its not all camel back rides through the desert and lunch sat looking across a vast sparkling exspanse! (plus i am a useless camper!)
    It has also made me feel quite ignorant to the huge world we live in and although i try to broaden my cultural and historical knowledge, this has opened my eyes to possibilities and findings that travelling may bring. Future plans for this are forming already!
    Thanks again, i look forward to next lecture!

    Rebecca Shorten

    • alsaduweaving

      Wow! what a response! I am delighted you are now a blogger! Also that you enjoyed the lecture and seem so responsive. I am glad the subject inspired you so much. Textiles research and my lifelong interest in Textiles, has ‘driven’ me across much of the world. Happy travels in the future.

  17. heathergriffinart

    I really enjoyed your lecture this week and really wanted to hear more, so was very pleased you directed us to your blog. I find it interesting that patterns and shapes can appear insignificant or random to an outsider but be so personal and reflective to the creator. Using an art form as a diary creates something unique to the maker and is fascinating to observe, as you are seeing the lives of the women in a tactile form. Thanks for opening my eyes. Look forward to hearing more about your work in the future.
    Heather Griffin

  18. Keireine,
    As a ceramic student I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to deliver such an interesting lecture to us this week. Regardless of what material I have chosen to work in, I am positive that I found this topic as interesting as any textiles student might. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us greatly 🙂
    I have a passion for other cultures and their way of life and thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Kuwaiti customs and this beautiful art form that is unique to them. It saddens me to learn that a tradition as old as the Al Sadu weaving will cease to continue. Especially as it seems to be such a huge part of their heritage and history.
    I admire you and those you work with for doing all that you can to ensure that some information and knowledge of this technique will be preserved and available for the future generations.

    Thank you greatly again!
    Lisa Collingbourne

  19. jessiecups

    Hello 🙂 first of all, apologies for such a late response on here, I made my blog and wrote a little about Al Sadu Weaving but totally forgot to comment on here!!
    Was just going to say, I really enjoyed listening to your lecture – like many people that have written on here it really opened up my eyes to the hidden cultures of the world, and it really fascinated me to see such ingenuity in their textiles.
    It’s a real shame that this weave tradition will soon die out because of the decreasing weavers in Kuwait, but hopefully with research and awareness we are able to rescue it before it’s too late!

    Thank you for such an interesting first lecture 🙂

    Jess Shepherd

  20. Hi,
    not sure if i’m writing in the right place!
    i found your lecture last week really inspirational. I wrote my response to it on my blog…under this name 🙂

  21. Thank you for your lecture on the woven textiles of the Bedouin tribes, it was truly enlightening, humbling and inspiring. The beautiful work these women achieve through their hard work and determination really affected me. The idea that they could create such intricate designs from simply looking/thinking on their object shows me that sometimes drawing isn’t as important as one may think. As a designer who loves to visualise as many options as possible through drawing/mark making, it inspires me that maybe i should take it upon myself to just ‘do’ more and then experiment with the possibilities that show themselves later. The symbolism behind great works is often one of the most intriguing aspects about a design and that carried through with your lecture and the way the snake trails and the water holes were perceived.
    Once again thank you very much for the lecture i look forward to keeping myself up to date with fantastic work you are doing to help preserve this art form.

  22. keireine,
    Im finally blogging about the Al Sadu Weaving lecture! i am extremely new to the blogging world so please excuse my lack of intelligence on here,
    I found the lecture last week highly interesting and inspirational to listen to as the detail in the gata’s was extremly remarkable, I found it interesting on how they translate what they see into symbols as this gives the pieces meaning and importance.
    this lecture was my first insight on the the Al Sadu Weaving in Kuwait and i hope in the near future i have the chance to learn more about this culture! looking forward to your next lecture 🙂

    Jessica Coole

  23. I have finally worked out how to blog! I am happy now also sorry for the late reply. I found your lecture very insprational and I enjoyed learning about the ways in which weaving is done. I had no knowledge of Kuwait or Bedouin tribe before this lecture and I am happy to have left with a greater insight into their lives. I found the textiles so wonderful and creative and how amazing the women are at creating such art. 🙂

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