Thanks to everyone who visited the show, in person or online. We welcome your feedback – please leave comments at the bottom of this page.
From the wearable to the worn away, the language of cloth, memories and messages held by clothing, our bodies and the traces they leave, these are all explored by textiles2020 using contemporary and traditional textile practices and mixed media.
Also on display is Fishy Tales, the group’s collaborative project exhibited at the Festival of Quilts this year. You can find more here.
3-8 October 2023 at Espacio Gallery, 159 Bethnal Green Road, London E2 7DG
12.00-18.00 Tuesday to Saturday, 11.00-16.00 Sunday
The Circle was made alongside the Fishy Tales jacket and has sea creatures and plastic pollution caught in its ghostly netting.
Can we come in?
Our first visitors, students from the Royal College of Art and Central Saint Martins passing by the gallery came and had a peek upstairs!
From the gallery
After a heavy day of hanging, the show is ready!
Clicking on an artist’s name will take you to their work: Kate Beale, Rachel Gillard-Jones, Nina Gross, Karina Haake, Kathryn Hollingsworth, Ceridwen Sooke, Annika Strandberg, Gill Swanson, Patti Taylor, Veronica Thornton and Yvonne Watts.
Kate is fascinated with grand old buildings, worn through the passing of time. Her favourite building to visit is Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, a stately home where a vast and varied collection of wonderful objects is displayed in formerly grand rooms preserved in time, allowed to gradually decay, giving a sense of fragility and abandonment. In her work, Kate attempts to capture this atmosphere in her Shibori dye practice through a considered use of muted, dusty colour and faded pattern.
Rachel’s current work is called It’s catching! It reflects her investigations into bacterial forms and diseases inspired by reading a Ministry of Health pamphlet on keeping healthy in WW2. Rachel’s wearable artwork of soft sculptural forms is embellished with stitch. Research combined with technical experiments allows her to find the appropriate stitch language to depict various symptoms of the disease she has explored. Using textiles and non-traditional materials from the home to create forms, the stitch can be seen in all its glory.
Two of the headpieces reflect Rachel’s investigations into Staphylococcus where the bacteria is cocci-shaped. The headpiece in Staph – It’s catching (I) is reminiscent of a petri dish. The veil signifies people’s shame of bearing the symptoms of contagion. The bold spectacle of Staph – It’s catching (II) should be a reminder that catching a disease is not shameful: we are all close to disease every day of our lives.
Yersinia pestis – It’s catching! reflects Rachel’s research into the black plague where the plague doctor’s beak was stuffed with strong-smelling herbs and flowers to supposedly prevent the wearer becoming infected. The headpiece showcases the bacilli form of the plague bacteria. Black feathers traditionally signified protection but also, conversely, death.
Nina works across drawing, printmaking, animation, writing, and installation to consider the traces we leave behind. Contemplative and self-reflective, her imagery evokes a quiet sense of lack and longing.
This body of work explores the memories held in clothing, combining meticulous graphite drawings with intimate text.
Puddles and piles. Floor, chairs.
Draped on the back of the door.
Crumpled creature hollow without body.
Chewed cuff. Stained front.
Worn pockets, rolled-up sleeve.
Biscuit crumbs squashed into seams.
Slide my limbs where yours once were.
Scarred arms in shadows.
Ribbed knit under thumb.
Stretched threads across the back.
Tight fibres were ripped from cloth.
Caught in nails. And hair. And skin.
Cells wedged between weft.
Hide me. Bury me. Swamp me.
Now these clothes sit stale
Suffocated in vacuum packing.
A pinprick, they breathe, bulge,
push the lid off rigid plastic boxes
And your smell is slowly replaced by the musty seeping of the loft.
Constellations: Familiar and Far Away marks the next chapter of Karina’s textile journey, following on from Childwood, Aurora Borealis-Northern Lights and The Traveller’s Case. A parallel world of memory explored through colour, constellations and cut-outs. These cut-out dresses exist in the liminal space between this world and the next. The pinpricks of light illuminate and enrich the darkness, connecting Karina with her Swedish mother and grandmother, through constellations familiar and far away. The dresses have a life of their own.
This work is also a gentle reference to Family Constellations, the therapy that weaves the stories, beliefs and influences of our ancestors into the warp and weft of our own lives.
Embellished and embroidered velvet printed on wallpaper, paper, embroidery and collage.
Kathryn’s new work is a development of her series of vessels, this time taking the human form as inspiration. Looking like delicate pieces of shed skin they represent growth and moving on, whilst having an emotional poignancy.
The ghostly 3D forms are created with hand coloured scrim and muslin. Assembled with hand stitching, and sometimes ‘mended with gold thread’ – paying homage to the Japanese art of Kintsugi – a reminder to celebrate life even when things fall apart.
Kathryn’s wall hangings are made from leftover scraps of material, patched and pieced together with hand stitching.
Her preliminary drawings explore the structure of the human body.
Ceridwen enjoys practising life drawing. Each drawing requires concentration and a willingness to embrace change as the process continues. She likes the fact that the drawing can grow and take different directions and at the same time leave behind traces of the original marks.
She regards the process as a problem solving exercise. She likes to claw out and build the final image after much deliberation.
Her life drawings have provided a starting point for making her art textile work.
Ceridwen grew up in a family where her mother made their clothes.
She has many memories from her childhood which involve fabrics and sewing …… when very young wearing a starched cotton dress which cut into her skin and wearing 1950s dresses in Horrocks patterns. In the early 60s the fashions changed and her mother used the full skirts of the 1950s dresses to make short shift dresses. Ceridwen was allowed to buy her first pair of kitten heels aged 12. She loved them.
Ceridwen sees clothes as an expression of her personality. Her life drawings gave her a way in to express the human form and the joy of clothing it in her new work.
In every work there is a starting point, the initial inspiration, but where you end up is something completely different. In her latest work, Variations, Annika has been exploring the different options and directions you can take from that initial starting point and the routes and pathways you can take.
One for Sorrow
Annika has been playing with the rhyme One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, working with dogs instead of magpies, looking for stories within the rhyme.
After many years of working with a variety of different artistic mediums, Gill discovered textile art later in life. It seemed to be a perfect fusion of everything creative she had ever done.
Her work explores colour and texture. Inspired by nature in all its forms, her textile pieces have an organic style. By combining vibrant colours and textures and using a variety of techniques and processes, she seeks to create artwork that reflects the powerful colours of plants and flowers. Much of Gill’s work has been created by machine stitching on to dissolvable fabric to create a new fabric. She then develops these pieces further by adding beads or overlaying and combining them with embellished pieces to create richly coloured and textured artwork. She often includes upcycled cloth in her work and also cuts up and adds pieces from samples she has created over the years. Much of her current work includes wet felting samples made during a short course she attended a while ago.
Gill continues to experiment and develop new techniques and enjoys working in an intuitive way. As her directions change while she works, new ideas unfold along the way.
Patti has worked on several ideas for this exhibition.
Beneath the seams
We use clothes to cover our bodies and hide our emotions as well as to project a persona. Patti has used men’s jackets to demonstrate the emotions that we choose not to reveal, using the feelings’ associated colours: red – lust, hate; orange – psychosis, suspicion; brown – illness; yellow – cowardice/fear; green – envy; blue – melancholy; purple – rage; black – corruption.
Donated men’s suiting, wool and thread; hand stitched
“It was consensual“
These pieces evolved from Patti’s work with jackets. Here she has reworked remarks, often off the cuff, which can enrage us.
Dresses from charity shops, iridescent paints and threads, recycled earrings. Hand painting, machine and hand stitch.
Here Am I
Patti’s from-life bodyprint uses stitching to replicate her surgical scars, some dating back over 50 years. Creating it tapped into deep sensate memories prompting painful reminders of long forgotten or buried emotional and physical traumas. The image has been updated to reflect this year’s additional surgery. Unfortunately, it seems to be a work in progress.
She says she is now used to wearing this worn out body!
Old sheeting and fabric scraps, acrylic paints, recycled and vintage threads; hand stitched.
Baby boomer women will remember playing with cardboard dolls and dressing them in the latest fashions – paper clothes with little tabs to hold them on. This limited edition book harks back to that time, using beautiful fabrics as well as papers. Patti’s neighbour, Ava Clarke, aged 8, made many of the additional outfits.
Cartridge and other papers, some hand printed; fabric scraps, some vintage, embellishments, paints and inks
Veronica’s work investigates two different interpretations of the theme “Worn’. Firstly she uses items of clothing that have actually been worn and secondly she uses fabrics that are worn out or aged and disintegrating.
Childhood Holidays uses fragments of vintage children’s clothes, cut up and collaged together with old Michelin maps and illustrations from a 1960s French textbook printed onto fabric. Arranged pieces are then either sewn together using free machining or embellished onto blankets. In different ways they attempt to give a flavour of childhood holidays travelling through France.
Chinese Lessons uses pieces of an old goldwork scroll that is beyond repair. The lessons are taken from a language textbook published in the Chairman Mao era of 1965. The only two colour illustrations in the book were of Tiananmen Square and the bridge at Wuhan which seem prophetic and are included in the Chinese Slippers piece. The work attempts to illustrate the dramatic changes that took place in 20th century China, from the traditional goldwork embroidery underpinning the era of Chairman Mao through to more recent events.
Both interpretations make use of maps to give a sense of place and old books to illustrate a particular time in history.
Yvonne’s work is a very personal and imaginative response to her favourite place in Ireland; Donabate. She is inspired by the rich variety of flora, landscape and seascape. Her compositions are a combination of memory, feeling and direct observation. She uses drawing and collage to create sketchbook records of her coastal walks. These sketchbooks are also used to push forward her ideas and go beyond simply recreating what she sees. She then prints onto silk with polychromatic dye, adding detail with collage, stitch and mark making. The final compositions are colourful and semi abstract
6 responses to “Worn”
Amazing work, and so diverse. Cutting-edge textiles artists who will fire up your imagination. Highly recommended.
Some stunning work on this show. Creative and innovative. Well hung. A real treat.
Bravo to all the artists.
Amazing exhbition, really well curated and some great pieces there. Lots of fun!