Running until 11 December, the exhibition Caroline Bartlett: A Restless Dynamic at the Craft Study Centre, Farnham, Surrey, brings together various aspects of the artist’s practice in addressing archives, collections and historic sites as a set of ideas.
Alongside new textile based works, it includes the work ‘Stilled’ which Bartlett made as a site-sensitive response to the Spinning Room at Salts Mill for the exhibition ‘Cloth and Memory.’ Whilst her response to the collection of the Crafts Study Centre started with investigating the work of Lucie Rie, this process was disrupted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading her to reflect on the ‘ecology’ of practice as it shifts between continuity and change, deliberate or otherwise and the indeterminates that destabilise the context of production.
Image: Caroline Bartlett, Stilled, 2013, 7.5 x 1.58 x 2.m, dyed, stitched wool, porcelain
Using ‘Stilled' as an example, Lesley Millar, Director of the International Textile Research Centre at UCA and curator of the exhibition, says ‘For over 20 years Caroline Bartlett has, when the opportunity presented itself, created work in response to a particular place- its history, architecture, function. These works, some of which are shown here, are not literal illustrations, they go much deeper in materializing her experience of the place.’
‘Caroline’s pieces responding to Rie’s work demonstrate the essence of her overall approach, that of setting up oppositional forces. In this case that of containment alongside a sense of a compressed, fugitive force. When the biologist D’Arcy Thompson described that it is possible to see in the form of the forces that are acting on it or have acted upon it in the past, he could have been looking at Caroline Bartlett’s work – the edges fairly vibrate with the energy caught within and between the pleats.
With all Caroline Bartlett’s works, textures and complex shapes emerge through folding, stitching, creasing and stretching providing the viewer with an experience which is profoundly satisfying and unsettling at the same time. The centre and the edges are in a relational state with their surrounding space, inviting the viewer to return again and again.’
Video: Watch Caroline Bartlett in conversation with Professor Lesley Millar.
Director of the Crafts Study Centre Professor Simon Olding said, ‘Caroline Bartlett’s remarkable exhibition looks into the heart of the Centre’s collection of work by Lucie Rie and reveals truths about the ceramic narrative that we have not heard before’.
Caroline Bartlett has exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad, undertaken various commissions and has work in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Crafts Council and the Whitworth Art Gallery.
The Crafts Study Centre is a specialist university museum open to the public as well as a research centre and home to internationally renowned collections of modern British craft. Caroline Bartlett: A Restless Dynamic runs until December 11 at the centre, located in Farnham, Surrey., Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 4pm.