Just down the road from our design studio, nestled in idyllic Wiltshire countryside, is New Art Centre, Roche Court, a sculpture park and gallery.
Last week we went along to see the exhibition The most real thing: contemporary textiles and sculpture.
The title of the exhibition was taken from Anni Albers' essay ‘Work with Material’ in which she wrote: "...we must come down to earth from the clouds where we live in vagueness and experience the most real thing there is: material." That was in 1938. A sentiment which may be just as relevant today.
There was a diverse and colourful collection of textile works on show, and overall a strong focus on studio-textiles and sculpted art pieces. It was in the Artists House - a small contemporary house within Roche Court built to display smaller scale works of art - where the exhibitions’ highlights were to be found.
On entering the Artists House, Diana Harrison’s Box 1 and Box 2 were impressive. These two large works, each with intricate stitch detail and sculptural forms, had been inspired by found cardboard boxes. The silk surface and infinite number of stitches sew into the layers of materials, plus the gently sculpted forms, created the impression of dark shadows across the surface.
In complete contrast, Ptolemy Mann, who is known for her harmonious use of colour, exhibited a stunning pair of handwoven works Chlorophyllia: Virisian Celedon and Chlorophyllia: Reseda Chartreuse. Her signature dip-dyed ikat warps and bold Bauhaus inspired colour studies were captivating. Particularly her recent work, Chlorophyllia: Diagonal Colour Study which has two woven pieces fused together across the diagonal.
We asked Ptolemy about her thinking behind the idea to join the two woven pieces,
“I’ve recently been exploring framing my textile artworks after years of leaving them unframed a revealing their stretched edges. When the panel is framed it becomes what I call a ‘textile facade’ and our eye is drawn to, and focuses on the surface of the artwork in a new way. During this process I also have begun exploring diagonals and ways to interrupt the straight line of the warp threads. The type of loom I use means the vertical, straight, warp line is perpetual and by stretching the cloth asymmetrically over two diagonals it allow a visual fracture to occur. This particular piece is my first successful diagonal and part of a wider series of site specific artworks exploring Chlorophyllia - a love of green - created for Roche Court and The Most Real Thing” Ptolemy Mann.
Framed by the architecture of the house was Ismini Samanidou’s work titled, Dèrive, a delicately hand woven piece made from silk and paper. Ismini Samanidou’s textiles have a beautifully detailed and experimental edge to them with her use of unusual materials.
“Ismini has travelled and researched textile techniques worldwide and is principally interested in the way weaving exists as a common autonomous language crossing cultural and political boundaries.” isminisamanidou.com
Ann Suttons’ knitted art piece ‘Knitted Structure 2’ featured a cotton twine knit structure on board. The twine was knitted more tightly to the left, with the tension gradually loosening to the right.
The exhibition also included some stunning works by Ben Nicholson and Lucienne Day, such as this silk mosaic (detail shown), 'Plan of Peking'. Lucienne Day's highly influential work uses a unique and intricate construction technique that stems from traditional patchwork using centimetre sized squares and strips of coloured silk.
In the main gallery space was an impressive large scale fabric work by Alexis Teplin, ‘The Politics of Fragmentation’. Collaged fragments of oil-painted and stitched cloth, were assembled into an impressive abstract art form made from linen, velvet and canvas.
The exhibition was co-curated by Sarah Griffin and Stephen Feeke, and designed to showcase the diversity of fibre-based art and design. The exhibition included loom woven, quilted, stitched, dyed, painted and sculpted threads, and featured art works which spanned a broad range of styles from minimalist through to conceptual.
This exhibition closed on Sunday, but next up at New Art Centre is an exhibition of large-scale colourful abstract paintings by Robyn Denny: Paintings from the 1960s, opening 10 Nov 2018 until 13 Jan 2019.