Today we had a class University trip to the Salts Mill to see Lesley Millar’s latest curated exhibition Cloth and Memory 2. This is a follow on exhibition from Cloth and Memory in 2012 which welcomes some new breakthrough artists as well as some more well known practitioners in the Textile Art world.
We were shown around a few of the exhibits by our lecturer Claire Barber who told us a back story about some of the artists who had worked in a new and unfamiliar way to them in response to the space and the theme of the exhibition.
As you enter the once largest Textile Mill in the world, the space is overwhelming. The Mill space measures 168m long and just walking the length of the gallery space you cant help to image what it must have been like as a working mill. The exhibits around the room are all very different but the underlying theme linking them is clearly evident as you move around. Most use muted and faded colours as a direct link to memory and the past. I found the use of this limited colour palette an interesting idea as I have been having issues finding the right colours in my own knitted work this week and the way the exhibitors approach this with use of differing textures or highlight colours are very inspiring and give a refined feel to the end piece.
Placing the works in the worn away and dishevelled walls of the Mill, Jeanette Appleton‘s felted books are right at home and draw the viewer in. I originally didn’t like the presentation style of the books based on original ledgers and sample books from the old Mill, but the more time I spent with them the more I saw how this part concealing of the work helps to hold the viewers interest and the limited view point means that you have to move around, crouch down, move forward or back in response to the work. The nature of the display meant that the work was unable to be viewed as a whole and it was only by moving along the wall and looking in.
The colour way of this work is beautiful and the natural colours of the yarns compliment the walls and the space. The use of this muted colour palette for this set may be what I need to look at in my work to be happy with the colours.
The other work I found extremely inspiring was the piece right at the back of the mill and was an absolutely inspiring piece made up of dried rice painstakingly threaded onto fine cotton. The piece by Yoriko Yoneyama draws attention to the Food and Cloth we all need for every day life by using Rice and Fibre. I felt that I would have like to have been able to walk around this piece and see it from some different angles. The other pieces in the room were devoid of barriers and I liked this freedom which you were allowed to explore the work in your own way. However the barrier takes away this freedom and limits your view of the spectacular installation.
I also had my new Digital SLR with me so took some time indulging in the different macro and aperture settings to get this photo
I also got a little dirty from almost lying on the floor…
The final piece which I must put in this post (although I am aware its getting on a bit) is the work by Caroline Bartlett. These died and embroidered pieces of woolen cloth were hung in an alcove in the wall and in the centre of each hoop was a small ceramic circle with the impression, the memory, or some textured or worked cloth.
The pieces had then been embroidered to recreate the form of the cloth and the threads were left unfinished tumbling over the edge. The pieces are very organic in nature however the stitching is produced by scanning an image of the impressed cloth into a computer and stitching the result digitally.