Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate 2010

We sadly had a rather shorter visit than normal to this crafter's cornucopia thanks to a snow storm that swept in mid afternoon and sent us scurrying home. Poor Angie Wyman from the University of Cumbria stand was forced to overnight in Harrogate it was so bad. I managed just a few of the exhibitions so here follows just a taster of what was on offer. Follow the links for images and more information on the artists.

smallCHAT 'Power of Ten'
I have a soft spot for this group as they are based in one of my favourite villages in Essex, Thaxted. I first came across them doing a group show at Wimpole Hall, Cambs and was particularly impressed at the time by Helen O'Leary's creepy, ghostly hanging wedding 'shrouds'. This time around she has gone mad for rust-staining. Various embroidered rust-stained fabric frames surrounded sepia photos of World War I soldiers and brides, none very convincing, possibly if she'd used the original photos rather than grainy scans I might have liked them better. More interesting was the rusty bride's veil hanging on a scrubbed pine door, raising memories of Miss Havisham and her tattered wedding outfit. Sue Walton's work evoked similar memories of the Victorian era with her bizarre embroidered felt fantasies housed under glass bell jars. They obviously referenced the silk & paper flowers and other odd creations made by middle class Victorian women with time on their hands but had an odd rather surreal feel to them as if they were living creatures found at the bottom of the sea.

Elizabeth Tarr 'Out of Indigo'
I absolutely love indigo dyed textiles and Elizabeth's stitched narrative images didn't disappoint. The majority closely referenced images from the works of Velasquez. Some of the pieces on the face of it were crude and primitive in style but the indigo added a remarkable depth and texture which quite transformed them. For me the most successful were the pieces with silhouetted images, for example 'Infanta Series: Dog' where the shadowy dark blue dog is set against a creased blurry background, or a pair of shadowy Infanta images with gilded sentences "I carry the sun in a golden cup" and "...the moon in a silver bag". Less effective were the images with crudely painted faces and hands superimposed onto the blue shadowy figures.

Gizella K Warburton
Rather pleased to come across something a bit more conceptual at last. Gizella's ripped, monochrome stitched pieces were like a breath of fresh air. They were gnarly, scrubbed, painted, fraying and scribbled on in pencil. Squares of cloth or slate had applied thread, paper yarn or wire circles and other scraps of fabric overlaid on them.

Clyde Olliver 'Kirkby Roundhead'

'Large Slate'
 Clyde Olliver
Another soothing selection of monochrome imagery amongst the chaos and bling of the rest of the show. Clyde also uses slate and stitch but his work is more solid than Gizella's with thick tough yarn threaded through drilled holes. The little arrow and triangular shaped stitches looked like a code on 'Kirkby Roundhead' and contrasted the fine hair-like threads used on 'Large Slate'. The latter was very grungy with dirty looking thread plus dried patches of lichen.

Sadly at that point the snow started falling and we had to tear ourselves away from the next display, a wonderful selection from Manchester Met University's textile archive called 'Machine Stitch Perspectives', a show put together to celebrate the publication of the book of the same name by Alice Kettle and Jane McKeating. Tantalising glimpses of work by Maxine Bristow  and Michael Brennand-Wood were briefly seen!

More about what I missed can be found on the Knitting and Stitching Show website

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