Hespeler Library Draperies

In the summer of 2006, Lesley Armstrong and Anke Fox won a juried textile design competition, and were awarded a contract to produce draperies for the new Hespeler library in Cambridge, Ontario. Sponsored by the Cambridge Library and Galleries, whose mandate is to collect contemporary Canadian fibre art, the requirement for the competition was for a semi-transparent drapery that would hang around the perimeter of their new glass building.

 Armstrong and Fox wove almost a kilometer of fabric required for the Hespeler commission, using unusual, textured Japanese yarn made from nylon and bits of linen paper. Then the fabric was hand-dyed using a traditional resist technique to form large diamond shapes in the fabric. Finally, the fabric was sewn into the semi-transparent drapery that now hangs from the high ceilings of the library and gracefully pools on the floor.

The drapery is installed around the perimeter of the second floor of the new award-winning building designed by Toronto architect, Alar Kongats, and complements the clean simplicity of the architecture. The $4.2-million glass structure wraps around the 85-year historic old library, offering inside views of the old building and reflections of the surrounding environment. Alar Kongats won a national award for the design in 2005 and Canadian Architect Magazine named it a top 10 project for the way it preserved and protected a historic building while offering stunning views for patrons.

The woven structure is simple and the drape is sculptural, with folds down its 12 foot height. The highly textured surface of "Natural Surroundings" is inspired by and recalls the mystery and subtlety of nature's twigs, leaves, grasses, and seeds. This natural reference offers a contemplative and mindful place, fostering awareness of the beauty of our natural world.

The drapery changes with the light--the ceramic fretwork in the glass windows casts shadows on the fabric in strong sunlight or wave-like shadows in angled light. The visual and physical texture of the fabric invites closer inspection during the day and night. In the evening the motifs that were dyed into the drapery become dominant visual element in the drapery.

If you are in the area, please visit the new Hespeler Library!

For more information about this project or to discuss interior furnishing projects, please contact our office. lesley@armstrongtextiles.ca