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.

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