Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Exhibitions on opposite sides of the world

I am living 'bi-continentally' now, splitting my time between the UK and New Zealand, and this month visited great textile events in both places.

Driftwood on Mairangi Bay.

Tree fern ready to unroll.

Just before the last nip across the ocean to NZ I spent a very pleasant afternoon at Rufford Country Park to see the works of a Sheffield based group called 'Art Through Textiles'. This is a very well established, large (over 90 members) and long lived group which I have had the pleasure of visiting and knowing several of the members for some time. Many of the members are well known textile artists, all are enthusiastic and experimental. They were showing a collection called 'Elements'.
If I can get my critiques out of the way, they would be that there is never enough signage at Rufford to direct casual visitors to the gallery space meaning that only a very small proportion of the visitors to the Country Park ever get to the gallery area, despite this sales seemed to be going well and Rufford is always a good space with plenty of light and plenty of space. Also there was probably a little too much work on show, so that some works were squeezed in or not allowed their full potential and I wonder whether a more rigorous selection would have helped.
Having said that, group exhibitions with lots to see gives every visitor something to like or to talk about and I am sure that it would be judged a great success. Well done ATT.

A few people whose work I noted down at the time were:

Cass Rawlings - using organdie layers, I liked the delicate, decayed quality of the printed, layered fabrics with additions of simple catching stitching.
Jill Askey - highly textured pleats and fissures, pulled, twisted, burnt and embellished pieces.
Linda Bellinger - painting and printing on canvas with simple stitching in some areas, a painterly style using a fresh pallate, stitch seems to grow directly from the painting.
Diane Gilder - very dense, possibly computerised, machine stitch of 'water patterns'.
Sue Coles - 'tag book' structures, falling and twisting.
Jay Johnson - Landscapes of layers of shot silk and sheer fabrics with couching and handstitch.
Alison Folland - rough, wild vessels and sculptures made from scraps.
Jo Owen - life drawings on paper and fabric, restrained use of colour and stitch.
Lesley Alexander - a series of works of collaged fabrics, paint, embellishing andf limited stitching in quiet greys with highlights of blues mostly. The work was presented as one piece and as such was rather overwhelming. I would have been happier seeing each one as sufficient in itself, and indeed as we are now showing this series in 'Brocade and Beyond' at the Beetroot Tree, I have hung the pieces apart from each other.
Lynne Garbutt - stitched indigo tye dye, layered and pieces with vibrant, contrasting red used  as an emphasis. Suggestive of Japanese work.
Pam Rowley - the pieces were restrained and careful, a successful combination of texture and machine stitch set against firm hand stitch marks. I was not so keen on the framing though.
Last but not least, my friend Sandra Goddard - I loved her landscape combining photomontage and close up details. An evocative and personal memory of a dramatic Northumbrian coastline.

Sorry no images, I had hoped to get some from the ATT site, but they aren't in evidence just now. Keep an eye out for the groups future events on their site.

I then took a plane and from a not so brilliant summer in the UK, via 35 degrees C at 5am in Dubai, to spring sunshine and showers in New Zealand.
Gratuitous images of spring flowers coming up:

Amongst other actvities whilst there, I did squeeze a trip to Hamilton to the Craft and Quilt Show which for a relatively small show had a selection of interesting exhibits.
One of these was a selection of wearable art textiles made from reused and recycled materials, called 'restyle', I missed the actual show which was on the evening before my visit, but there were fun and novel examples of materials and clothing on show.
The fibre art section had a selection of felted and embellished garments. I thought that the use of fine vintage patterned silks worked especially well:

Kath O'Halloran and unknown artist

Shrug by Bryona McInally


And there was a really strong showing of quilts in various categories, a few of which caught my eye for differing and eclectic reasons:

Marylin Muirhead. Discharge techniques


Irene Anderton. Tweed and Plaid are unusual but successful materials for quilt

Merilyn George. A quilt remembering Chinese workers in New Zealand

Overall winner. Helen Godden


Merelyn Pearce. My husband's favorite as a reminder of his Aussie days


The Beetroot Tree Textile Exhibitions

At the Beetroot Tree in late July we set up an exhibition called 'Labour of Love' which featured both works brought from India by Jo Hall of 'Bazaar',
But most especially we were treated to the textile portraits of Aran Illingworth.
Aran's work is almost journalism, her chosen subjects for this series are beggars, outcasts, people living on the edge of thier society. She captures the pathos of characters whose lives are a mystery to us, and without words she reminds us forcefully of the contrasts across the world.

She visited and chatted to a full house about her work:

The question session after Aran's talk brought up an interesting discussion. A questioner asked whether Aran felt the need to 'put something back', perhaps to give a percentage from her sales to the people or communities she has chosen to re-create in stitch? A provoking discussion continued after this, widening the question as to whether artists, journalists, businesses and others who 'use' the theme of poverty/illness/degradation as a subject matter have a greater moral imperative to give assistance to their subjects than anyone else? Or any more than any other person, or the viewer/reader/buyer of the work? Does the same principle extend to other aspects of our involvements? Maybe sports people should have to give towards sports charities or training becasue they have derived a benefit from the training? Do we have a perception that as artists it is more necessary to consider the question than people in other careers? Or, is the reminder of an issue created in the viewer the 'payback' an artist or writer etc. sufficient?
Your thoughts? ...

It only seemed 5 minutes, not 6 weeks, before we had to say goodbye to the 'Labour of Love' exhibition and were hanging the new one! (Mostly as I had been away for some of it)
The current exhibition is called 'Brocade and Beyond', and the link between the selected artists is the structures created by the construction of decorative threaded structures. I will just mention a couple of the artists here, but use the link above to see the full list, statements and images on the gallery website.
Jan Garside's weaving feature strongly:

 Jan hand dyes and hand weaves bespoke intricate art textiles which have been purchased by collectors and commissioned by domestic and corporate clients. She has exhibited widely both regionally and nationally and in Europe. All work is bespoke and hand woven on a traditional loom. Her work is based on considered themes and is researched through sketchbook work, photography, computer imaging and woven sampling. Jan uses combinations of silk, monofilament, metallic thread, and cotton and linen yarns when weaving the multiple layers that are her trademark. Her colour palette consists of soft shadowy neutral colours that create a quiet atmosphere. She is particularly interested in the nature of light, movement, texture and surface.

Also works by  a local artist Jennie Merriman. Jennie says: My work centres on the experimental development of weaving using a variety of structures, often with the use of acrylic sheet integral to the work. As the work progresses I create my own ways of working as there are now no traditional techniques to follow I find my own way and develop a new set of rules to inform the process. 

Compositions start from a simple geometric basis and work towards the characteristics of harmony and discipline. Starting with a two dimensional frame it builds upon itself to create 3 dimensional structures creating patterns of stability between the various entities.

More images and information will be on the website very soon.
I am looking forward to our gallery events Gone Gothic and  Fairy Cake with artists talks, dowsing, fairy lanterns and story telling over the next couple of weeks and our Christmas solo showing of works by Neil Bottle