Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Tapestry and Linen Combined

When I was in New York, I visited the Metropolitan Museum and saw this amazing fragmentary Coptic textile.

Fragment from a Coptic Hanging, 5th century, linen, wool, plain weave, tapestry weaving, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
What is so extraordinary is the combination of linen with tapestry. In the detail image below you can see where the two mediums meet. Perhaps some of you are thinking 'Oh, I've seen this combination before...' but for me it was real eye-opener and a method of construction I had never seen before. Please excuse the reflection of the display case in the photo below.

I encountered this fragment near the new Islamic Art galleries in the museum. Here are a couple of pictures I took with a panoramic app on my phone, to give you a sense of the creative way the objects and architectural elements have been displayed:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Swept Away

First, a word of warning: this post is not about tapestry. But don't be put off! Sometimes it is worth stepping outside of your usual, focused area of interest and exploring other media, in order to enrich your own thought processes.

MAD, Columbus Circle, New York

Whilst in New York we visited the Museum of Art and Design (MAD), an imposing building at Columbus Circle, near the south-west corner of Central Park. The building's large capacity means it is able to host a number of exhibitions at any one time. I was quite literally swept away (and bowled over) by Swept Away: Dust, Ashes and Dirt in Contemporary Art and Design. It was truly staggering exhibition, not only due to the astounding quality of the works, but because of the nature of its subject.
Catalogue for Dirt, Wellcome Collection, 2011

In the contemporary world we seem to be in a constant battle against dirt, with TV advertising displaying a steady stream of products designed to rid our homes of bacteria and dirt, dust and stains. In 2011 the Wellcome Trust held an exhibition, Dirt, looking at the social and cultural reality of dirt throughout history, placing centre stage that which we are most averse to looking at and talking about.

The artist/makers included in the MAD exhibition all use dust, ashes, dust or sand as their primary material. The exhibition is not about dirt as a cultural or social phenomenon, but as a material for creativity. The works were extraordinary and I'll let the picture do the talking.

Dust and Shadows: Sixty-Four Extinctions, 2008-2009, Stephen Livingstone, UK, rusted steel cabinet, graphite, ash, rusted tins painted with smoke and ashes.

Flora, 2010, Phoebe Cummings, UK, unfired clay.

Ashes to Ashes, 2009, Antonio Riello, Italy, blown glass, ash from burnt books.

Unfurling Splendor (Adaptation IV), 2012, Catherine Bertola, UK, dust, PVA glue.

Ritual Accumulations, 2011-2012, Julie Parker, UK, dryer lint, cotton, latex, embroidery thread.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Tapestry in New York State

I am on the final leg of my American research trip - I've made it to California and will be interviewing Harold Cohen on Monday. So many interesting thoughts and ideas have developed whilst I have been here - there will be plenty of blogging on my return!

In the meantime here are a couple of interesting pictures. I had the pleasure of meeting Archie Brennan and Susan Maffei at their home north of New York City. It was wonderful to see the space in which they work and to interview Archie for my thesis. Out of all the works I had an opportunity to see, my favourite was Partial Portrait Once Upon a Consumer. He wove it based on the combination of shirt, tie and jacket which he frequently wore, with two buttons forming the only 3 dimensional element.

Archie Brennan at his loom

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