Discussion

Textiles at the Oceania Exhibition – Royal academy

Posted by on Oct 14, 2018 in Clients, Discussion | 0 comments

  The Oceania exhibition brings together the greatest collection of art from the island cultures dotted across the Pacific Ocean, Micronesia, Polynesia and  Melanesia. The Pacific occupies a huge area,  over a third of the earth’s surface. It includes Hawaii, New Zealand and New Guinea. The exhibition is hugely affecting with strong, graphic statues and carvings – their influence on Western 20th century artists like Picasso and Henry Moore are clear to see.  Most of the artworks were traded rather than stolen stemming from a culture of gift giving amongst the Pacific peoples who would give to visitors they wished to continue to trade with. The fantastic artistry and craft skills of some of the gifts – like barkcloth – were not fully appreciated by some recipients like Captain Cook.  Barkcloth (or tapa cloth) is made by hammering wet bark on an anvil repeatedly until it forms very thin sheets – it is often mistaken for paper and (apparently) has a soft, pliant feel. In the Pacific the bark used comes from the breadfruit or mulberry tree. The cloth is then decorated by being dyed in intricate geometric patterns. In the Oceania exhibition the pieces displayed reminded me of patchwork quilts. Originally they were used as wall hangings and were part of the important  ceremonies around births, deaths and marriages.   The barkcloth is simply stunning – although (of course) you cannot touch it you sense that it is soft and pliable, delicate yet strong. I’m going back to the exhibition and will take a better picture next time....

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Textiles – the dangers to us all of textile misuse

Posted by on Oct 8, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Textiles – the dangers to us all of textile misuse

Fewer clothes and re-use and repair Good to see Stacey Dooley’s  reminder of how much damage to the planet we are doing in our failure to use textiles responsibly. She also demonstrates the problems that making lovely, fresh cotton does to the planet. I don’t know about you but I always thought of cotton as an organic, natural product. Of course it is a plant but it takes so much water and so many toxic chemicals to process cotton that we cannot go on as we are.  We need to go back to making quilts from the original components – scraps and remnants of clothes or reusing good areas of partly worn clothes, instead of generating new cotton that we then cut up to make new pieces of material.  There are manufacturers – like Patagonia – which make a huge effort to manufacture responsibly. Of course their clothes are more expensive but they do last longer so requiring less use of raw materials and environmentally sustainable.  This was the original aim of OLSA to use textiles more sustainably and we’re about to revamp our website to show more of our use of material that would otherwise go to landfill. Perfectly good material that would otherwise go to landfill. ...

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Textiles and Prints Sicily @ the Exchange Gallery

Posted by on Jul 22, 2018 in Discussion, Exhibitions | 0 comments

The most persistent memory of our journey through Sicily is of the wild flowers – particularly the swathe of purple, blue and deep red of wild sweet peas that astonished us in the countryside near Gangi.    Another memory is the consistent hum of bees when we walked through fields or areas of vegetation on the hills. This is a  noise I have not heard in the UK for a long time, it brought back memories of childhood and feelings of regret for what we have lost, at least for the time being.   We essentially walked downhill from the centre to the sea but there were ups and downs on the way as we made our way over one of Sicily’s  ski-slopes (Piano Battaglia) and then over some expanses of rock.  The descent into Cefalu was beautiful – intermittently seeing the deep blue of sea in the distance, then some small boats, then a jet ski-er. As we got nearer there were more and more flowers again. We had a long walk along the front to get to our hotel – all the time we could see the cathedral towering above the town.  The highlight of Cefalu for us was the Duomo – a magnificent Norman building – built by King Norman II in 1131. It is set in a wonderful sloping square, which is filled with cafes and restaurants. The evenings were balmy and perfect for an evening glass of wine in front of the amazing building. It has the most wonderful Byzantine mosaic (we could only see the reproduction as it was being restored) of Christ which dominates an otherwise sparsely decorated building. There are many ancient lanes and a wide promenade stretches alongside the length of the sandy beach. The sea is safe for swimming, although rocky in parts and clearly draws Sicilians from a wide area on hot days.  It was a restorative place in which to rest after the walk.    ...

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Art as Truth – really?

Posted by on Apr 9, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Art as Truth – really?

Going to the King and Collector Exhibition made me think again about the idea that art is a truthful  occupation. Not invariably I would say. Sometimes it can be a way of constructing a very deceptive front.   King Charles I’s own collection of artwork, commissioned by him, conjured up an image of a rich, peaceful kingdom governed by a serene monarch. Nothing in fact, could be further from the truth. A bitter civil war was in prospect or actually taking place during reign, he was a poor ruler and constantly raising money for ill-thought out campaigns. If we had only his private art collection we would consider his time on the throne to be serene, surrounded by a beautiful and accomplished wife and attractive children, the landscape untroubled by any  clouds of foreboding.  It reminded me of the uses of social media, where by posting appropriate photographs and texts a ‘curated’ life can be presented which is very much at odds with reality. One which can elevate social position and standing or be of use in ‘networking.’ Ultimately things ended very badly for Charles I – his death was violent and horrible. I wondered whether he had ever considered the possibility that his actions were stirring up such hatred and anger.  I have even read some articles that have drawn parallels between Brexit and the Civil War, there are a few about by historians and journalists  and there certainly seem to be some similarities – though I obviously hope they stop at voting patterns and strength of feeling, and that we are able to settle differences more peacefully. The repercussions are likely to be as long-lived.  The three pictures in one portrait of Charles I were meant to help Bernini create an accurate sculpture of the king – even to have a sculpture made required the permission of the Pope. I guess they had a very clear understanding of the powerful impact of image....

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Textiles and prints : King and Collector exhibition at the RA

Posted by on Apr 7, 2018 in Discussion | 0 comments

Charles King and Collector  – Exhibition at RA I visited the wonderful and thought-provoking exhibition of the royal art collection of Charles I, soon to end at the Royal Academy, much of it reunited for the first time since the sale of the collection after the King’s death. A good way to see beautiful art and brush up (or learn) history. It was surely a seismic event for the king to be beheaded and then, only eleven years later, for the new king to be installed, the monarchy restored, yet now this tumultuous and painful period in history can be summed up in a couple of lines. Would his older brother Henry – apparently ‘brilliant’ and ‘charismatic’ have made a better fist of things?  Charles I was  a weak and capricious king – now it’s hard to understand how he could be so consistently dim and utterly incompetent, endlessly provoking Parliament unnecessarily. The Duke of Buckingham seemed to be able to make crass mistake after crass mistake without the king realising what a liability he was. George Villiers (named in a number of roads round London) was eventually assassinated. Whatever his limitations as a king, Charles had  a deep appreciation of art and had a sophisticated strategy to collect great pieces. He was inspired by a visit to the Court of Spain during some protracted and ultimately futile marriage negotiations, to emulate his host and start collecting in earnest. He then took on professional advisers and bought discerningly and well.  Charles’  collection ranged from tapestries to miniatures. There are some wonderful Hans Holbein portraits  – drawings and paintings. The faces are full of character and individuality,  you feel they could easily break into speech and possibly have life beyond the paper or wood.   Charles was well served by his court painter, Anthony van Dyck. There is not even a hint that things were not well with the monarch and his realm from the serenity of the paintings. It was sad to see that Van Dyck died so young – his last self-portrait again betrayed nothing of the nearness of his death – he looked carefree and healthy. He clearly had an eye for the commercial (good for him) and focused on portraiture because it was so much better paid than, for example, printmaking. Apparently his plates were used and copied for many years after his death. Like all blockbusters, the exhibition was quite crowded but the size of the rooms at the RA lessens the impact of this and enable the huge pieces – like the Mantegna ‘Triumph of Caesar’ – to be shown in a way that trumpets their magnificence.  Go quickly – it ends soon.     ...

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Textiles and prints : layers of colour

Posted by on Sep 21, 2017 in Discussion | 0 comments

Textiles and prints : layers of colour

Life is complicated. Illness makes it more so.  Although everyone dreads illness, few are able to empathise.  I have been working on a survey for lupus UK with some academic colleagues from Hull. We are trying to find out more about the impact of SLE (lupus)  on the ability to work and to find solutions to the very real difficulties.  SLE is like a tiger stalking you all the time, just out of sight, then springing out and attacking you. Low level tension continuously then sudden bursts of fear and pain.  First SLE is unpredictable – you never know where you are on the continuum of health and illness. If you are feeling good you are never quite sure how long it will last – you hope it will last for ever but know that a spurt of cytokines, a collection of microbes an overdose of sun and your immune system is on the go again.  Lupus hides,  it is invisible. No-one knows (or possibly believes) you are ill unless you actually fall over. Fatigue is a major symptom. Everyone thinks they know what it is like to be tired – they do, that is not fatigue. Fatigue does not improve with rest and yet infiltrates activity, making it eventually impossible. You need to rest but do not feel better for doing so. This survey is already helpful. It has shown that many of us with LUPUS feel these things. Where does art come in? It probably sounds daft to say that creativity can help  overcome illness.  At times it is impossible for me to create anything at all.  The physical side of creativity is rarely discussed but it is of major importance to me. A limiting factor. It is hard work being in a studio and trying to finish something.  This image is a screen print onto cloth. It is the sort of image I return to again and again. Layers of colour – tangled up with each other. Areas with two colours, no colours, one colour one on another.  Like the layers of LUPUS....

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