Tuesday 27 June 2023

The 62 Group - Tailored - Sunny Bank Mills, Farsley, West Yorkshire


Sian Martin - Process (detail) & Hannah Lamb - Deconstructed Shirt (detail)

The 62 Group, a renowned textile art collective, are currently exhibiting at Sunny Bank Mills with an exhibition entitled - Tailored.  The work in Tailored explores multiple meanings and interpretations of the word itself and what it means to the individual artists’ practice. Some artists consider the process of making and elements of it; the design and weaving of cloth and the pattern, pinning, cutting and sewing of a garment. Other artists take a more narrative and personal approach to the meaning. The techniques used include stitch, knit, casting, drawing and film; sculpture and installation.  The exhibition is also a celebration of 10 years of culture at Sunny Bank Mills where cloth was produced that was used primarily in the making of suits.

I'm going to give you a whistlestop tour through some of my favourites...

Sian Martin - Process

Sian Martin's Process (above & detail at top) is inspired by one of the mill workers at Sunny Bank Mills and Sians's own beginnings in dressmaking.  Sian was fascinated by tailor tacks and their ability to transfer marks through layers of cloth.  This piece celebrates those traditional dressmaking skills.   Also the repetitive and rhythmic stitching of this piece celebrates that stage in the process of making a tailored garment.

Hannah Lamb - Deconstructed Shirt & Dressing Up

Hannah Lamb's work is always interesting.  Taking a vintage man's shirt, with it's overtones of  masculinity, formality and appropriateness, Hannah has used a devore technique to deconstruct it and to question whether those overtones are valid or a camouflage behind which someone is hiding.  In Dressing Up, Hannah has developed this theme further using cyanotype imagery of the Deconstructed Shirt to suggest the different layers of our private and public selves.  The mannequin between the images offers a different body image playing with ideas of size, gender and identity.  Are we dressing to fit in or express our true selves?


Hannah White - Fluidity & Rigidity: No 4 

Hannah White "tailors" her weaving into a customised, sculpted form using conductive threads and a process called electroforming. This creates a metal skeleton on the conductive threads around which the fabric folds. Hannah describes this as engineering with thread.  I don't pretend to know how this actually works but would like to know more about the process and even see it in action.  The results are impressive.

Teresa Whitfield - Woollen Stockings for the Mending Girl

Teresa Whitfield was inspired by a circular knitting machine at Sunny Bank Mills.  Typically they were used for knitting worsted stockings but the one here in Farsley was actually used for knitting dyed samples that would be used for the woven cloth.  Here she imagines it used for knitting some stockings for one of the female mill workers and wonders about their living and working conditions and the inequalities of the textile industry.  Her work is a drawing of knitted fabric.  Teresa sees a parallel between the repetitive and meditative act of drawing knitting and of the act of knitting itself.

Shuna Rendel - Thread in the Air (detail)

Shuna Rendel has the Asian tailorbird as her inspiration.  This small creature stitches together leaves using spiders' web or plant fibres to make a cradle for its nest.  Shuna has created a series of possible cradle variations using avocado skins, vine tendrils, gladioli sepals, vetch pods and waxed linen thread.

Ann Goddard  - Tailor-Made

Ann Goddard was also inspired by the tailorbird and by the bespoke clothing made by Master Tailors.  Both the bird and the Master Tailors create something that will blend into the environment of the user.  Here Ann used the pockets of a pinstripe suit, the fabric of which was similar to that woven at Sunny Bank Mills, as the cradle for the nest which is represented by the abaca fibre inside.  The suit used was made by Master Tailor Beno Dorn who btw made the first suits worn by the Beatles.

There are plenty of other interesting pieces in the exhibition.  This is just a small taster.  You'll have to be quick to catch this one as it closes on 2 July 2023.  Do go if you get the chance.

Sunny Bank Mills is a great place to visit.  Apart from the Gallery and shop on site, there are various cafes, a Scrap Shop, the Sunny Bank Mills Archive, artists studios, shops and more.  There's also plenty of car parking.

Saturday 24 June 2023

Jeanette Orrell – Drawings on Indigo - Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales

Jeanette Orrell - Untitled (Indigo blanket) XIV

I have long wanted to visit Ruthin Craft Centre. I have read about their exhibitions, particularly their textile and mixed media exhibitions, and wished I was a little closer and able to visit. Having seen that Jeanette Orrell was exhibiting, I made arrangements to go - and was not disappointed.

Jeanette Orrell was born in Leigh, Lancashire in 1964 but has lived in Wales for more than 20 years. Originally trained in ceramics at Camberwell School of Art, following graduation she travelled between London, Japan and Greece before returning to the North West to continue her art and bring up a family. In 2017 she was awarded an Arts Council of Wales Creative Wales Award to study indigo dyeing on a farm in the foothills of Mt Fuji in Japan. Orrell brings fine art and craft together informed by familial ties, making, nature and motherhood.

Jeanette Orrell - Untitled (Indigo blankets) & Untitled 
(Indigo plant drawings) I-VII

Orrell's work combines a daily drawing practice with the art of indigo dyeing. This particular body of work was developed following the death of her father and contemplates mourning, recovery and regrowth. Jeanette found she had chosen a tradition that has a longstanding connection with mourning. Indigo was woven through the funerary wardrobe of Tutankhamun, the hand dyed ikats of Central Asia and the uldebe funerary cloths of the Dogon people of West Africa Here abstracted botanical forms are painted on to woollen fabric with a resist paste and then dyed in indigo. Dyeing a single blanket can take days. There are also hand stitched appliqued botanical collages using naturally dyed linens...

Jeanette Orrell - Blue Poppies I & II

Whilst the work employs simple forms they are stunning and the large indigo blankets are breathtaking. I also found the samples and ephemera that were exhibited fascinating...

Jeanette Orrell - Samples, notebooks & ephemera

Jeanette Orrell - Samples & ephemera

I loved the indigo samples where white thread had been couched down to form elaborate patterns...

Jeanette Orrell - Indigo sample with couched white thread

There were also a number of short films made by Jeanette's daughter, Ellie Orrell, illustrating Jeanette's practice. This exhibition continues to 2 July 2023. Jeanette and Ellie Orrell are running a two day indigo dyeing workshop at Ruthin Craft Centre on 1-2 July 2023. You can book here.

Other exhibitions on show were Animal Rites - celebrating fauna in clay. I loved Susan O'Byrne's work which looked like patchwork...

Susan O'Byrne - Hare 2023
(Hand built and printed paper porcelain)

Susan O'Byrne - Hoopoe 2023

and Louise Bell's Endangered Species that looked like pull-along toys. Louise fears these representations may be all that is left if humans don't change their actions in relation to these animals.

Louise Bell - Black Rhino 2023

Love the angels coming out of the elephant's trunk...

Louise Bell - Elephant Finding Hope 2021

All of Louise Bell's work was fantastic.

The other exhibition was Zoe Preece - In Reverence. Zoe Preece has created a series of ordinary domestic objects – intricately carved by hand from porcelain or turned from plaster on a lathe. Each piece takes many hours to create. For Preece, the repetitive and unseen activity of her craft resonates with the ceaseless, invisible domestic labour undertaken within the home. It is this often unnoticed, undervalued work that Preece tries to capture in this installation.

Zoe Preece - Spoonful

Zoe Preece - Carved Tools

Ruthin Craft Centre has a large car park and a spacious cafe. If you need somewhere to stay try Manorhaus Ruthin - nice rooms, lovely food & great welcome from Gavin. Also, lovely to see Julie Arkell and Dionne Swift represented in the artwork on display at Manorhaus.