Kλώστρια / Klóstria
(‘wool-spinning woman’)
A fantasy scene

oil on canvas (linen)
90 × 70 cm
May 1978

In my capacity as textile technician I was once struck by the spinning process that we can observe here. My first thought was: ‘This must be very difficult, and it doesn’t make you rich!’ But on reflection: ‘It doesn’t make you poorer either, and it fits in a context’.


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You meet them in the most remote areas across Greece; flocks of sheep or goats, or both. Sheep in particular lose tufts of their wool to the spiky vegetation on the dry mountain slopes. The shepherd girl, behind the herd, collects these flakes and sticks them on a distaff. She clamps this forked wooden stick, often decorated with carving, under her arm. The process of loosening the wool fibres, laying them out in parallel and rotating them around each other all simultaneously using a rotating spindle is what we call spinning. Winding it on the same spindle – the subsequent and last phase of the spinning process – is depicted in this painting.

Imagine this process being carried out on the back of a donkey, heaving and choppy, and you’ll appreciate the significance of practice . . . 

Both the subject and the environment – although derived from actual encounters – are fictional.

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