In our first discussion we looked at the way in which Garyson Perry has used tapestry to weave together images to create a narrative, or social commentary. As some of you rightly pointed out textiles are also tactile and many artists engage with textiles because of their physicality and/or haptic qualities.
Following on from this point, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the following http://www.johnpaulmorabito.com/#!HAPTIC-Touching-Text-and-Textile/clwg/F45332AF-B3E0-4C99-85FF-B26B90745CF0
Look forward to talking to you all again after Christmas,
Which is why a lot of textile exhibitions have notices saying " Please do not touch the pieces" We all want to get close up and see how it is made and feel the weight of the fabric. Reminds me of The Lucy Show way back in the sixties or into the seventies. In one show she was wearing a knitted dress and after an elevator trip a loose thread got stuck, the rest can be guessed at and was hilarious on an absolutely unintellectual plane.
Think about it, having the fantasy to make a gallery in a handbag whatever the make of the handbag. This must make a lot of new artists work accessible to a much larger audience yet it demands rather more vision than a normal gallery. Pop-up galleries give people who would never think about visiting a gallery the chance to experience works of art, for example in a station during rush hours or a doctors waiting room. They usually have a person who talks about the pieces to the audience and a short duration of not more than a couple of hours. I once thought of mounting sewn eyes on the trees along the paths in our local forest in an attempt to stop those litterers who think that a trip to the main trash facility is just too far away and leave their old fridges or washing machines in the ditches which makes mushrooming hazardous! I gave up the idea at the time but I could think about it again.
Which only goes to show that we all will have to practice thinking outside the box!
Several years ago I was taking part in an exhibition and several visually impaired visitors commented on how much they wanted to touch the exhibits to get a sense of them. Since then I have become a lot less precious about many of my pieces. I am a textile artist because I love to touch. I do frame and protect delicate pieces, but cushions, quilts and other items I am happy for people to handle. Often these are made quite quickly and can easily be remade should they be destroyed. I took part in an exhibition at Ripon Cathedral this year and my cushion was placed in a cabinet. A friend went along to view the exhibition and on mentioning she was a friend of mine, the student happily removed the cushion from the cabinet and let her handle it. Sense prevails, my friend got a real sense seeing the piece up close. We need more hands on textile art and do away with the "do not touch" signs. This is something I will be keeping in mind in future.
I hate seeing the notice 'Do not touch' you immediately want to touch don't you. There was a good exhibition at the Walker back in 2006 'A Passion for Fashion: a Liverpool's lady's wardrobe' showing the wardrobe of Mrs Tinne from 1910-1940 and although you could get reasonably close my fingers where itching to examine them closely especially to see how they had been made.
I can understand if a textile is delicate, from antiquity or valuable not being able to touch. I can't remember were I read it but when experts use gloves because the oils on your hands are supposed to be damaging that the gloves can be just as damaging because they can leave threads behind.
As Sarah says it will be something that I will take into account if I ever have the opportunity to exhibit.
At the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the recent Annette Messager exhibition had a number of large samples to touch in the resource room. A good compromise.
Also at the MCA, the Yoko Ono exhibition had a piece consisting of parts of a body reproduced in a soft white silicone which visitors were encouraged to touch - they had a little bowl to moisten your fingers, and a guide hovered nearby. An earlier version in New York was soon "damaged as people clawed and dug at the figure – reflecting, for Ono, the way women’s bodies are (mis)treated". This one, even so protected, had a toe broken off (an accident I think). Thinking of other recent reported events of disgraceful (criminal) behaviour by the public, we know that not everyone will treat a work with respect.
It would be interesting to make an exhibit piece twice and put them in the same exhibition (not necessarily together). One could be "Do Not Touch", the other "Please Touch", and a visitor book asking for comments about people's experience of the work(s).
Ernesto Neto is another artist who encourages viewers as participants. "I want people to see my sculpture through their pores, as well as their eyes, to feel it with all their senses." He invites viewers "to caress, manipulate, enter, or wear his multimedia sculptures", which may include use of sounds and scents. (quotes from Fiber: Sculpture 1960-present)
haptic makes me think of the haptic sensors being used in some of the wearable tech clothes. my friend Ben moir now runs a project making the technology for wearable tech (his business partner is a fashion designer). one is a navigate jacket, which has haptic sensors in the shoulders which are connected to a gps and the jacket "taps" your shoulder to let you know which way to walk. useful if in a new city and you don't want to check a map all the time. the jacket directs you to the location
he's done some other projects also using haptic sensors. i think there'll be more and more available in years to come
It's not just textiles that curators don't want you to touch, but I went once to an exhibition of book art work, and there was a box of disposable gloves (the surgical sort) so that you could touch and turn pages, etc. Albeit under the eyes of an adjacent member of the museum staff.
I have been involved with many quilt exhibitions where you Do Not Touch the works on display. The work is usually for sale and understandably you do not want visitors in a gallery to handle it. Sometimes there have been samples available to touch and this is always appreciated. I remember going to the Versace exhibition at the V&A some years ago – there were samples there for touching and it made such a difference to your understanding of the clothing presented.
I am considering being far less precious with items that I make in the future, but will have to realise that handling will alter the appearance of the cloth in time – but then, I am also considering making items that will have a certain impermanence and may necessarily deteriorate in due course.
I think there is a recent trend among some artists working with textiles that purposefully says work is not to be pristine and precious; that it should change and evolve in a human context, which might mean it disintegrates and discolours; and that this is part of its process as a piece of art? I recently took a long, thin piece of cloth for a walk across muddy fields and woods and then hung it up inside where the mud and detritus in it dried in a really quite beautiful way. This was a revelation and I would like to do more work like this. This is certainly one way not to be precious about cloth!
Hi all, Happy New Year
Some really interesting points here about the way in which people are drawn to textiles because of their tactile qualities.
Artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Ann Wilson elect to use textiles in their work because of their ability to elicit a sensory response, and in the light of the above it would be interesting to share thoughts on the following piece by Ann Wilson http://www.annewilsonartist.com/topologies-va-credits.html. Wilson often uses found materials such as table linen, bed sheets, lace, thread, and human hair etc. .. all items that are familiar, and rich with cultural meanings, in which the body, or human presence, is suggested via the tactile qualities of the cloth and hand embroidery.
look forward to hearing your views
I think I need to find out more about Wilson's work, but at first browse of her Topologies pages it looks more like drawing with threads to me. she's recreated some intricate and delicate marks in the works and they look like imagined landscapes or maps. I see she mentions networks, so they could be data cluster maps too. they don't make me want to touch them though - all those spikey pins make it seem more standoffish. maybe that was the point? forcing the "look but don't touch" ideas? or perhaps by using the pins to separate us from the pieces and hold them in place it compares to the networks being apart from ourselves - the network being on a on a "virtual" plane. the use of reworked lace patterns and materials adds a personal / human aspect to it as we feel comfortable & familiar with these things, so it's human data/messages contained in the networks. she's done quite a lot of work too, making all those pieces would have taken a while - compares to all the content made by people on networks/internet/intranets. I hope she just reassembles it in the gallery, not makes all the pieces for it, otherwise that would be a very long prep time in the gallery. I love the work. just need to think more about the haptic parts of it. actually the more i look at it and think about it, the more i like it and see other layers. so thanks for suggesting it.
Sandra thanks for the link to Anne Wilson's work. I was really interested and it comes at a time when I am looking at mending. By coincidence ( I love theses kinds of connection) I was using the classic publication on needlework by Therese de Dillmont and discovered a section on mending with hair. This falls under invisible mending. So here's a contemporary artist using hair in a challenging and perhaps a bit creepy way. But now I find that a century and half ago it was an effective means of mending. I'm sure Anne Wilson must have been referencing this. I didn't know any of this last week and now I do. I was intrigued by Dillmont's assertion that white and red hair are best for mending and her caution that we should wash the grease out first!
This is a really interesting thread all. I really like working with old textiles and reusing them. Utility objects are of course meant to be touched and held and if we use old used textiles and make them in to some other kind of art they loose their connection with their original purpose. Seems odd in a way that an old table cloth or the scraps of a paisley shawl have passed through countless hands but could end up untouched on wall. Of course that may be the very point we might want to make.
I am at the early stages working on the idea for my final project for textiles 1 - exploring ideas. I am so excited about doing it and am involving some people from over in creative writing to help me. My finished pieces will need to be touched, poked about with and emptied out as part of what they are about. I doubt if the markers and tutors will impact on them but over time I hope that they will be handled so much it will change the nature of the work. So this thread on haptic textiles is well timed for me and has really made me think about this aspect. Thanks
Wilson’s work is fascinating, but I wonder if I would feel the need to touch – she uses many of the ingredients for making cloth (thread, pins, tangled fibres) but my desire to touch textiles is, I think, only for the completed woven cloth. With this thought in mind, what I particularly like are her Dispersions pieces at http://www.annewilsonartist.com/images-dispersions.html I love the patterning of the damask background and the close stitches around the circular perforations. What I am slightly uncomfortable with is the thought of stitching with hair, which is used here. But maybe that says something about me and my history/memories/personal associations rather than it does about this material?
Going back to Annettes point about working with old textiles, Ann Wilson also produced a series of pieces called 'Areas of Disrepair' in which she stitched into fragments of domestic linen and handkerchiefs that had belonged to members of her family http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/little-universes/Content?oid=884066
what is it that makes old textiles so appealing?
>> what is it that makes old textiles so appealing?
i think it's that they have been used and loved by people so hold onto part of the people they've touched throughout the years. i think of it down to the molecular level that energy?/atoms are transferred. and they contain memories. when we had to pack my boyfriend's Mum's house away, I packed all the sheets, towels, curtains etc and it's really hard to not think of all the associated memories that these hold. even if they weren't mine. handmade work always has special meaning too due to the time and intent and care (and even the little mistakes that make them unique) put into them. i can't prove the transfer of atoms idea but I've always felt this is how it works.
I am also researching a number of artists at the moment including Shelley Goldsmith. I am interested in how she tries to make visible thoughts and memories through worn garments. Goldsmith states ' listening carefully to the stories the reclaimed garments present enables a narrative to develop and imagining around their ability to carry memory, to absorb and reflect experiences'.
I find this really interesting as I sometimes struggle with my own motives for collecting and rescuing old craft embroideries and needlework. On the one hand it could be viewed as kitsch or sentimental. On the other hand I am intrigued by the labour that went in to them and the motivation of the maker as well as the transient and all but lost thought and ideas of that person. Perhaps old textiles, like older people, deserve our respect for their experience and what they can teach us. Is this a hopelessly romantic idea?
This is why, Annette, I personally find it hard to alter old textiles. Many people will cut them, dye them, stitch over them. I find I cannot do this, certainly if it is a hand-made article. I have a number of pieces of hand-embroidered cloth, mostly small pieces, and I get them out every now and then and look and feel them and then put them away again. I have some quilt blocks made in the US in the 19th century which I bought with the idea of stitching them to make a quilt top but I cannot bring myself to do this. The tiny stitches and choice of cloth tell a small part of someone's story - the rest is totally unknown and will always remain unknown. It is a historical textile and I feel I do not have the right to alter it.
Same here Delia if the piece is sound. I've sadly become a bit of an expert at getting stains out of things that look ruined. I do have a pile of textiles though that are so badly damaged, with holes, bits missing, stained beyond redemption that I do cut up. I feel the fatal blow was not done by me. That's my rationale anyway. A friend of mine was given a very fine but badly damaged turkey red shawl. She is a needlewoman herself and does have an interest in old textiles. The moths had eaten away the middle of the shawl. She cut out the middle and restitched the shawl into a lovely piece of textiles. Its still quite large. She gifted me the 'holes'. So I'm using those scraps as part of a project on pockets and the secrets people kept in them. I've been lucky enough to get some OCA writing students to collaborate with me and given them all some scraps of the cloth and some found objects. In this case an old damaged piece of cloth has sparked a new pieces of textile and creative writing work.
I like the idea of being given the 'holes' Annette, would love to see what you do with them. Have a look at Ann Wilson's 'mendings' as I think they might inspire you.....
Hi all, in view of our recent discussion I thought that this exhibition opportunity might be of interest to some of you....sounds really exciting...I'll also post this as a new topic to make sure everyone sees it
let me know if you are going to enter
Kath, I am interested in your idea that energy/atoms are possibly transferred into fabric... I create Remembrance Bears as a career and when I unwrap a parcel I immediately have a feeling about the enclosed fabric (which is mostly the clothing of a person who has passed) This has nothing to do with the type of fabric, I can receive two separate sweaters from separate customers, the sweaters will be made of the same fabric but one I may feel drawn to, to the point where I long to cuddle the finished bear! And the other I can feel totally disconnected from. I've wondered why this could be? Your theory would sit well with this.
Sandra, the mini textile exhibition looks really interesting. I have only started studying textiles this week so am completely unqualified/unable to even consider entering but I'm really keen to see what kind of entries are submitted. I feel that I may have a particular interest in the relationship between textiles and memories (probably because of the job that I do), would you have any pointers relating to this area at all please?
Thank you, Karen
hi Karen, well I don't have any scientific proof, but it's just a feeling / theory (knowing? remembering?) that I've had over the years. I had similar thoughts about sounds, and the way music is created - for me, it seems to have a more emotional connection when created by humans using analog methods rather than digitally with computers. I think this is to do with the frequencies. atoms make up everything, and are charged by different electrons (at different frequencies). I think there's some kind of transference when things are made, the atoms change and are mixed together. and when they are hand-made I think the *human* atoms get blended (even in a slight way) with the object's atoms, and it makes us relate to them more - we 'feel' the humanity, or the soul perhaps (our common atoms/frequencies). i guess it's fun to do some 'what if' thinking (as jude hill calls it & likes to do). eg. what if this were true. could it explain how you can usually recognise something as hand made vs machine made. what if you had the machine make objects with errors/imperfections and made over a longer period like handmade objects, would we still see them as machine made or human made.
I made some (very rough) notes a few years ago whilst pondering the music atoms/frequencies & various readings:
I should think more about it / research it to expand the thoughts and see if there's any scientific reason that might back up my ideas. basically they're just musings at the moment, but make sense to me if that makes sense also :)
(I think I drop off the forums/site tomorrow when my course time is up. not sure how long my login will keep working, so I might not see your reply if any)
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