Thursday, 3 October 2013

Cloth and memory {2}

The exhibiting spaces at Salts Mill are large, as I remember from the room in which I had my installation last year. This year, the number of artists has been increased from 3 to 23 and the exhibition is housed in the old spinning room which runs the entire length of the building. The image above showing the work of Yoriko Murayama in the foreground with that of Machiko Agano to the left shows about a third of the space.

It’s impossible to describe the work of all 23 artists so I will just concentrate on those whose work is relevant to mine. Caren Garfen’s work looks at the lives of women in Saltaire based on a study of the 1891 census. She commemorates each of the women by hand stitching their names and details on a reel of cotton, hence the title of the work ‘Reel lives’. The apron strings record the types of employment open to men and women, taken from the same census; the long blue tie bearing the men’s opportunities while the short red one lists the women’s employment opportunities.

Caroline Bartlett uses hand stitching in suspended embroidery frames to emphasise the stillness and emptiness of the once noisy spinning room. At the heart of each is a hard, fixed porcelain circle bearing the imprint of a textile fragment suggesting lost memories and traces. Hilary Bower’s work, comprising large grey hanging sacks also captures the scale of the building and the unnatural silence of this room. They appear as silent witnesses, waiting to be reanimated.

Koji Takaki’s work Ma is made up of translucent cubes that appear to be floating away from the main hanging. They reminded me of windows and bubbles, breathing light and air back into this disused room.

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