Fish Bite

Alexandre Arrechea

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Factum Arte has collaborated with Alexandre Arrechea and Gallery Casado Santapau to create his recent tufted rug mask entitled Fish Bite (249 x 195cm). The imagery of the multi-tier tufted tapestry helps to create a piece with a curious mix of abstraction and mimesis.

Fish Bite © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte


This piece was born out of a collage of digital images Arrechea crafted from various photographs of walls from Cuba, which creates the mask image. Initially, the artist approached Factum Arte with a weaving project, but later became interested in the dynamic interplay between depth and texture that is possible with hand-tufting - a technique developed in the 1930s that combines the ancient craft of weaving with modern technology (tufting gun).

The technique of hand-tufting forced the piece to shift its focus away from photographic realist imagery and resulted in experimentation with volume: in hand-tufting there is half a centimetre per pixel, whereas in traditional weaving there are two millimetres for one pixel. In addition to the intricate and encapsulating 3D effect created by designing three different levels of haircuts, this work involved playing with different ratios and blends of various properties and also working with a more limited colour palette compared to weaving.

The artist, in collaboration with Isabel Fernandez, Head of Tapestries at Factum Arte, trialled different blends of yarn (wool and Tencel), which resulted in a rug consisting of a combination of 100% Merino wool, 50% Merino 50% silk blend and 100% Botanical silk (Tencel). Fish Bite achieved a topographic complexity not only due to its three different levels of depth (a highly complex composition for hand-tufting), but also with its variety of blends that adapts and varies the appearance of the piece under different light conditions.

The piece was hand-tufted at La Alpujarreña (ALP), one of the oldest factories in Europe with over one hundred years of experience in hand-crafted textiles manufacturing. 

Details of the layers © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte

Details of the final piece © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte

Details of the layers and colours © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte

Details of the layers © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte

Creating yarn the colour palettes © Oak Taylor-Smith for Factum Arte

Alexandre Arrechea and Isabel Fernandez at Factum Arte Textiles Studio working on the piece © Oak Taylor-Smith

Weavers at work © courtesy of ALP

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