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Published: 16 July 2021

By Andy Ross

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Richard Tuttle

I Don't Know . The Weave of Textile Language, the largest of Richard Tuttle's artworks, was installed in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern in 2014. 

The piece took the form of draped, coloured fabrics, suspended from the gallery ceiling but its apparent simplicity belied the complex set of circumstances and processes that took place in its making. 

For decades Richard Tuttle has been collecting textiles and has been exploring the processes that go into creating the fabrics we use every day. For this project, working with a mill in Surat in West India's Gujarat State, the decision was made to use words to explore and define what was needed for the installation; for example, a cloth with a drape "somewhere between elegant curtain and tarpaulin", a fall halfway between "stiff and limpy", and a silk/ viscose warp with viscose for weft. In this way the interpretation of the fabrics became a collaboration between an historic mill and the artist and with 14 trades involved in the manufacture of the textiles, the piece was complex in its execution. 

A new book has been added to the studio library. Taking the name and the format of the exhibition, the book is divided into three sections - photographs of the artist's own collection of textiles, writings about his work alongside photographs of the works themselves, and finally, the installation at Tate Modern. 

Photograph courtesy of Tate Modern.