Image courtesy of CAMPLE LINE (c) Helen Mirra.
CAMPLE LINE gallery, a former mill, had planned to open an exhibition by the artist Helen Mirra in March, Acts for placing woollen and linen. While the gallery remains closed, the team has posted a virtual walkthrough of the work on its site, along with a short film and a booklet. The exhibition starts with Standard Incomparable, a collection of weavings made to Mirra’s instructions by weavers from 16 countries since 2015. The plan was for this work to then be taken from the gallery and placed outside in the surrounding landscape and left. Each weaving would leave the gallery with a person or group by foot and be placed somewhere that ‘seems right’ for it. In this way, Mirra says ‘the collection will be let go of.’ This ‘decremental’ process will constitute a new work by Mirra called Acts for placing woollen and linen. As with the production of the weavings, their dispersal will entail individual actions within a collective undertaking.
Image: Margaret Lowndes, Staffordshire, UK (b.1950), 2016, wool, 68.5x55cm. Image courtesy of Helen Mirra.
The instructions from Mirra for creating the work for Standard Incomparable were: ‘a more or less square, plain-woven piece, of a width matching the length the weaver’s arm. Yarn of local & undyed plant and/or animal material, in seven alternating stripes (of shades or weights) the width of the weaver's hand (incl. the thumb).’ Participants each made two pieces, and from each pair of weavings, one was circulated to another participant. Together, the resulting weavings reveal characteristics both general and distinct, which make them both ‘standard’ and ‘incomparable.’
Image: Anne Low, Vancouver, BC (b 1981), 2016, wool, 64x64cm. Image courtesy of Helen Mirra.
A booklet is available featuring a conversation between Mirra and art historian Tina Fiske. In this quote, Mirra explains why she chose the measurements for Standard Incomparable: “I’ve been keen on using one’s own body for measurement for a while, as a kind of intimacy and as reliable and less precise than a machine-made ruler. And while weaving, it seems one can’t help but be aware of one’s arms, one’s hands, their size — as one is really ‘with them’ when with a loom. And for me, the natural extension of the arm, inspirited by drawing the shuttle through the warp, is a beautiful movement, and worth underlining. In realising the parameters, realised that the width of the hand, times seven, equalled the length of the arm. So more or less a square would be had.”
For more information and to take the tour, visit campleline.org.uk.