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.

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