Image: Anya or Anum, 2020, Anya Paintsil.
Based in Manchester, Anya Paintsil is a Welsh and Ghanaian artist working primarily with textiles. From rug hooking to embroidery, her assemblages evoke tactile tapestry on the one hand, and constitute semi-sculptural interventions on the other. Frequently using weaves, braids and other hair pieces (as well as her own hair), Paintsil laces debates around race and gender into the very fabric of her work. We asked Paintsil to tell us more about her choice of techniques and what they mean to her.
Why latch-hooking and rug-making?
I learnt rug hooking techniques from my grandmother as a child but my choice to work with rug hooking as a “fine art” practice was initially out of wanting to promote art forms usually associated with labour, utility and poverty as opposed to more traditionally ‘decorative’ forms of textile. I want to draw attention to the fact that the history of women in textile and fibre is too often focused on white women from the upper classes, negating the long history of working class women and women of colour involved in textile production in the UK and globally.
Image: Mair at Cylch Meithrin, 2020, Anya Paintsil.
What is it that drew you to the technique?
I love the preciseness yet freedom that comes with working by hand with a punch needle or latch hook, and really enjoy being able to push my tools to create interesting textures.
You use hair within your work, how did the idea to do that come to you, and what does it mean to you?
There are some similarities in rug hooking methods and some afro hair styling techniques - including the use of certain tools and I find this really interesting, but mainly my use of hair in my work is a celebration of the craft and skill that goes into afro hairstyling. I view afro hairstyling, be it braiding, weaving, loccing or twisting to be artistic practices in their own right, but similarly to textile practice have been historically devalued and dismissed because of their associations with femininity or personal vanity. I wanted to combine these creative skills, to create “fine art” objects and see what would happen if they are placed in a gallery setting.
Image: Ni yn unig, 2020, Anya Paintsil.
Where can people see your work at the moment?Online at Ed Cross Fine Art and on Instagram @anyapaintsil