GROUP exchange is the 2nd Tamworth Textile Triennial, currently on tour including recently at UTS (art.uts.edu.au/index.php/exhibitions/group-exchange-2nd-tamworth-textile-triennial/)
I found myself looking at the exhibition and the individual works through a number of lenses – themes and questions developed by the curator; the individual artworks and artists; extra information and threads from the half day symposium; recent exercises in my OCA course; and my personal responses and the impact of all of these.
Cecilia Heffer, the curator, presented a number of themes within the exhibition, the catalogue and the symposium.
I’ve chosen a few works which seem particularly relevant to my current development, interests and studies.
Lorna Murray invited us into the studio and identity of a textile artist. Ephemeral, throwaway materials were transformed in a quirky and delightful way. Wood was carved into traditional textile tools. Colourful cocktail umbrellas were deconstructed and became spools of thread, or stitched into a faceted fabric that stretched across the work bench and into a roll. Fresh from my folding experiments I itched to create new structures with those triangular segments. Murray’s work celebrated the traditional in a very modern way.
Jemima Parker’s work undefined objects at first glance may seem very close to some of the surface distortion I have been exploring with OCA. There is pleating and with individual items strong dimensionality. Her statement references the art / fashion boundaries, garment and body adornment, functionality. However I didn’t find it intriguing. Perhaps it was the rather static placement on the walls, bland lighting and limited colours evenly distributed. Somehow surface distortion became flat. The glimpse of Anitia Larkin’s The breath between us around the corner, tempted me to pass on swiftly.
I’ve mentioned Mandy Gunn’s work in a previous post (7-May-2015) when I was cutting and layering corrugated cardboard. Gunn’s work uses recycled shopping bags on cardboard construction. This work references weaving, reminding me of a colour and weave sampler from the past (8-November-2008).
This linking of textiles, textile sensibilities, with mixed media illustrates the power of discounting traditional disciplinary boundaries. There’s also a modern nod to concerns about recycling, consumerism (all those shopping bags) and collaboration (in the sourcing of materials).
Above to the left is a detail of the front stitching of Pranayama, a work by Gillian Lavery. On the right a sneaked view of the back.
This was a pool of stillness in the exhibition. A length of light silk, slightly swaying in the breeze of air-conditioning and passing viewers. Nearby was a small screen showing a looped stop-motion video of the work as it was being made.
Each day for a year Lavery measured a length of black cotton thread, reaching from mouth to belly button and back. She stitched in a spiral, focusing on her breathing, her thoughts sometimes wandering, until an alarm sounded at ten minutes. The remaining thread was pulled through the back and left. Cotton weights stitch length varied as the breath of ten minutes each day was experienced and observed, as the stitches spiraled outwards.
I wanted to see the back, those hanging threads of time expired. I gently blew to move the fabric away from the wall so I could see and take my photograph.
I think this is one of the most pure textile works I have ever seen. An idea. A length of fabric. Threads. A needle and embroidery hoop. A needlewoman. Time. Breath.
It’s a seductive work. A dangerous one. It makes me wonder about what we’re all doing. Racing around, crossing boundaries, seeking new materials and processes and combinations, telling ourselves “cross disciplinary designers” can discover what dedicated in depth study can miss. We favour the unfamiliar, the exotic, “originality”. We see fads, fashions, and the perversely different for the sake of being different. We want to do everything – and do it in a way its never been done before.
That last paragraph is quite misleading and unfair. Her website bio states “Gillian Lavery’s art practice is a process-based drawing practice informed by her background in textile art.” (http://www.gillianlavery.com/bio/). Crumbling barriers open new paths. I just want to be sure to take a breath every now and then.
T1-MMT GROUP exchange Exhibition and Symposium
Textiles 1 – Mixed Media for Textiles
Part 1: Surface Distortion