DIS/rupt, the Textile Study Group, SIT Select, Stroud 2017
In 2017 I curated DIS/rupt, for the Textile Study Group. The group explored several themes, including global conflict and the refugee crisis; climate change and ecological disruption; conflict within domestic relationships; and disruption within traditional fabric making processes. The exhibition launched at SIT Select, in Stroud in May 2017.
We live in an uncertain world. The only certainty now seems to be uncertainty. Life is full of disruption on personal, political, local and global scales.
The Textile Study Group is a group of nationally and internationally recognised textile artists and tutors, well known for innovative and challenging approaches to both traditional and contemporary art practice and inspired teaching. https://textilestudygroup.co.uk
A review of DIS/rupt by workshop on the web provides a good overview of the exhibition:
… this was not a comfortable exhibition, nor was it intended to be. It was a strange paradox as the work was amazing and uplifting but the subject matter was, in many cases, heartbreaking and harrowing.
…every single piece deserves an in-depth mention… It was all so good and rather frightening as it forced you to confront your conscience and consider unthinkable things.
A fully-illustrated catalogue is available:
CONSTRUCT: explorations of identity by eight textile artists, Ruthin Craft Centre 2014
Linda Barlow, Caren Garfen, Janet Haigh, Nigel Hurlstone, Val Jackson, Deirdre Nelson, Naomi Ryder, Lynn Setterington.
Who are we? What makes us who we are?
In this exhibition, curated by Melanie Miller and June Hill, eight artists explored the subject of identity from a range of perspectives: personal, public, historic and geographic.
The exhibition featured work in a variety of formats including: installation, domestic objects, military clothing, signature quilts, digital prints, and embroidered stop motion animation.
The exhibition was documented in a 32 page catalogue with accompanying text by Melanie Miller.
An account of the exhibition can also be found on Janet Haigh’s website; Janet was one of the exhibitors.
And a review by Adam Somerset can be found here.
‘Construct’ is an enthralling and enticing exhibition. It plays satisfyingly on the gap between the expectation that a particular medium is likely to evoke, and the fact of its content.’ Adam Somerset, Wales Art Review, vol 3, issue 11.
MECHANICAL DRAWING – THE SCHIFFLI PROJECT 2007 – 2008, Manchester School of Art, and touring
Co-curator, with June Hill, of Mechanical Drawing – the schiffli project, a layered undertaking that sought to document and explore textile practice and the creative process through the responses of a range of practitioners to the historic schiffli machine at MMU, a unique 100 year old multi-needle embroidery machine that mechanically stitched repeat patterns or images across a two-metre wide piece of cloth.
The exhibition opened at the Holden Gallery at MMU in 2007 and subsequently toured to a further six venues in 2008, including the Hub in Sleaford, Macclesfield Silk Museum, and Fairfield Mill in Sedburgh. The exhibition was documented in a catalogue and DVD. Arts Council funding enabled the commissioning of work by artists who had never previously had access to this machine, including Nina Edge and Rozanne Hawksley. Some of the artists combined schiffli embroidery with hand embroidery, digital print, paint, and various other machinery stitch processes.
Artefacts in the exhibition included subverted domestic objects, such as Dixon and Welsh's 'Armchair Politico', Kate Egan's inflating and deflating quilt, 'Stack' and Nina Edge's net curtain, 'Nothing is Private'. Wall pieces included huge figurative works by Alice Kettle, Nigel Cheney and Rowena Ardern as well as a quilt by Lynn Setterington. More intimate work was present in the form of a series of rag books by Jane McKeating, and Rozanne Hawksley's 'Anthem for Albion', a poignant installation referencing global conflict. Sally Morfill, Isabel Dibden Wright, Jill Boyes and Melanie Miller played with the inherent repetition of the machine to create floor and wall-based pieces, and Susan Platt created a schiffli poem, 'The Lost Thread'.
Sadly when the textile workshops of Manchester School of Art were moved into a new building in 2013 there was not room in the new workshops for this beautiful, unique, historic machine and it was scrapped, despite considerable interest from a range of organisations in re-housing it.
Extensive information about Mechanical Drawing – the schiffli project can be found here.
Review of the project by Jessica Hemmings in FibreArts magazine Sept/Oct 2008 pp46-49 can be found here.
TECHNO STITCH, Oldham Art Gallery, 1996
Tessa Gudgeon, curator at Oldham Art Gallery, was always alert to emerging trends and asked me to help develop a project around computerised machine embroidery. Computerised embroidery is mainly used for the mass production of embroidery on clothing and household textiles and Tessa wanted to demonstrate it’s potential as a process to be used in more diverse ways.
Generous sponsorship in kind was provided by SA Smith Ltd of Manchester, suppliers of embroidery machinery and software. As a result of this Tessa was able to commission three artists to make new work utilising the latest embroidery software; one of these artists was Grayson Perry, who Tessa had recently included in Fine Cannibals at Oldham Art Gallery. The result of Grayson’s collaboration with S A Smith was the costume for the mother of all battles, a provocative, subversive folk costume, a clichéd amalgam of European peasant costume, innocent looking from a distance, but on close inspection the dress and waistcoat were heavily embroidered with gruesome images of war. This was the first time Grayson had used embroidery on his outfits for his alter ego, Claire, he subsequently used it extensively.
The other artists in the exhibition were Nigel Cheney, Hui Fang Lee, Jane McKeating, Melanie Miller, Margot Rolf, Susan Telford and Mandy Wrightson. The exhibits ranged from the functional to the conceptual, including figurative and abstract hangings, blankets and ‘soft furniture’; garments, and fashion fabrics that could be used for clothing or interiors. The diversity of innovative work in the exhibition demonstrated some of the potential of computerised machine embroidery.