Saturday, 2 February 2008

Cloth and culture now

This exhibition was brought together by Lesley Millar to encourage an understanding of the links between traditional and contemporary practice. It represents the work of 35 textile artists from six countries. Below are some of the pieces I found most influential for my practice.

Mare Kelpman’s Estonian National Embroidery appeals to me because of its lace-like qualities. She has cleverly used two layers of pattern in different sizes and also the shadows they produce to form a multilayered piece that looks effective from all angles. The piece would not have been so effective if the layers had not overlapped. It has inspired me to use some paper cut outs in my practice.

Reflective surface by Helena Hietanen uses light and fibres to produce an interesting installation that also has a slight movement to it. It looks a complicated structure but taking to her she explained that it rolled up easily for transportation. I am always interested in how artists make large installations that are easily transportable as this is a problem in my own practice.

The tubes of Light by Agneta Hobin were attractive, especially the shadows they cast and the slight iridescence of the material, but I thought they would have looked much more effective if they had been at least double their length.

Shoku Nomura’s installation of washi was not as effective as I had thought it would be. She says in the catalogue that she is interested in how you can see a soft light through washi. I was expecting this light to be more luminous; perhaps the lighting conditions were not quite right. This is probably the case because the installation looks more effective in my photos than it did in life. I attended Shoku’s workshop on the Sunday when she showed us her technique. I thoroughly enjoyed this and was convinced that washi paper is luminous and that there are numerous possibilities for using it in my practice.

Ieva Krumina’s hanging Nobody appealed to me because of its lace-like qualities. It forms an attractive piece from a distance and rewards a closer look by being full of intricate detail.

I generally find tapestries too solid for my taste but Sue Lawty’s installation Call and Response comprising four pieces in different media was fabulous. Her lead, stone and digital pieces were quite open, and the colours in her linen tapestry were very subtle with several changes of shade and slight alterations of texture. I have been considering projecting images onto walls as part of my practice and this installation encouraged me to take this further.

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