Art Textiles: Made in Britain will be exhibiting their latest show Illuminate at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2023 at Alexandra Palace, London from 5 – 8 October 2023 and Harrogate Convention Centre, Harrogate from 16 – 19 November 2023. Member artists are Bethan Ash, Louise Baldwin, Jessica Grady, Cas Holmes, Rosie James, Edwina Mackinnon, Sandra Meech, Sylvia Paul, Stephanie Redfern, Christine Restall and Sarah Waters.
Art Textiles: Made in Britain, we’re delighted to have you with us at The Knitting & Stitching Show, showcasing the best of the UK’s leading textile artists from within the collective. What can visitors expect to see this year from your exhibition, Illuminate?
We celebrate our diversity of approach as textile artists and the work for our fifth collaboration, Illuminate, will reflect this. Reflect...equally, as in a mirror, how we each have responded to the theme to celebrate the unique approach of each individual in the group. So, expect to see transformed high vis workers’ jackets to hints of fireflies and magical creatures on Japanese kimono inspired work. The sparks and patterns of outer planetary influences to those of the inner world of the brain. We aim to have a good range of interpretations of the theme as everyone approaches the challenge differently.
Your aim is to promote British art textiles and to ensure their future by introducing them to new audiences. How do you navigate the balance between preserving historical textile traditions and stretching the boundaries of contemporary artistic expression?
All of our approaches have a foundation that is deeply rooted in historical tradition which is harnessed, subverted and transformed to connect making with meaning to communicate our ideas and thoughts anew. Look hard enough and you will identify hundreds of techniques and processes employing a range of materials. Felting, quilting, works in paper, weaving, found materials, embroidery, dye, paint, the list goes on. Within our group we encompass a wide variety of knowledge, skills and reference to traditional textile techniques. We are artists and individuals who work with and within these techniques and valuable traditions to support our own creative personalities whilst each building a lifelong body of work.
Your first exhibition, Identity, was back in 2014. Tell us about the role of collaboration, why it’s so important to show together as a group and how engaging with other artists can enrich one’s own creative process?
Working together around a given theme opens each member up to challenge the expectations surrounding their own practice. As established artists we all have busy lives, yet we make time via Zoom and in person to meet up and discuss and get feedback about our work as well as share the tasks that come with running a group. This working as a small group has allowed us to build up confidence with each other to be open about our interests and has given us the flexibility to be open to change. Inviting a guest member each show adds another element of change, which we welcome. Our members would agree that working within a group of artists is one of the best things you can do for your personal creative enrichment. It's also good to share and enjoy each member's artistic journey and to support each other, not least in terms of the practicalities of the actual machinery of running the group.
As you evolve, what do you see is the future of textile art and its role in shaping broader artistic and cultural conversations?
Since its inception in 2013, Art Textiles: Made in Britain through its members, has chosen to focus on British talent. We remain committed through our members to comment about and discuss the continuing role textiles plays in the broader art world. The exhibition tours to gallery venues after its launch at The Knitting and Stitching Shows, reaching a wider audience. Some of the membership are authors and teachers providing a good platform for further discussion about the role textiles play in the shaping of our creative arts futures.
Imperfection often adds a unique charm to textile art. How do you embrace the organic nature of the materials and techniques you utilise?
Conceptually there is the needle and there is the cloth. What happens between hand, eye and mind can manifest into many different forms. At a time when digitalisation of the art world seems to be gaining apace, embracing the 'imperfection' of the hand-made is to be celebrated in the creation of textile art. There is no doubt that what we make is hand-made. Experimentation, a willingness to try something new and to stretch the possibilities of your chosen materials, working methods and creative resources, and not worry about a predetermined definition of success as you work through your ideas seems to be the basis of developing the experience to embrace the organic quirks of your materials.
Images courtesy of art textiles made in Britain
The Knitting & Stitching Show is on from 5-8 October 2023. Find out more:
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