Following on from their successful project about the sewing machine (2016-2017), Studio 21 have embarked on a new project called Colour Notes. Studio 21 is a well-established group of textile artists. Formed in 1997, this year the group will celebrate their twenty-first anniversary. The ethos of the group has always been to challenge existing expectations about textile. The membership includes teachers, lecturers and writers as well as practitioners. What is special about the group is that it meets regularly and members work collaboratively on the chosen subject matter, sparking many varied and personal responses. The group produce a body of work, which is then exhibited bi-annually in the UK.
The new project Colour Notes explores the rich seam of colour sensation evidenced in our memorable connections with colour. It taps into the times when we become acutely aware of its hues, tints and intensity. It explores those moments when we are moved by colour, when colour and affect become a memory.
The project title was chosen to show how the work emerged, how the group noted and used notes, how they reflecting back on the significance of colour in the work. They asked whether this was intentional or spontaneous. The project also posed the question: when, why and how do we use or choose colour and how does that choice correspond with our selection of materials?
The responses to colour are many and varied. Colour is referred to in the landscape and the human: the cliffs, the coast, the urban environment and Africa. The very ‘stuff’ of colour, as the material pigment of the earth is explored as an indicator of place. Colour is variously described as stain, exotic, vivid, clashing, surprising. It is mentioned as in movement, spatial and temporal, shifting with the light changes, day and night and with the seasons. It is also noted as being captured in the moment of being in the world in a specific space and a particular time.
Most notably, colour is described as conjuring and materialising the immaterial: the emotional, personal experiences, memory. Colour is recounted as vibrating with energy and that it can uplift or it can soothe and calm. It can affect our moods. It is explained as helping to draw attention to our other senses, connecting to sound, touch, smell and taste. Colour also communicates an ever-changing cultural system of signs. It holds and conveys embedded meanings. The group asked, ‘Can colour ever be ‘neutral’?
For all the members of Studio 21, Colour Notes has been a searching and thought- provoking project because of its openness and it’s trusting in unknown outcomes. From the beginning the group hoped that something different and personally owned would emerge from the work.
They hope that their audience will find joy in their careful and inquisitive responses.
The work from the project will be exhibited at ‘The Knitting and Stitching Shows’ in London (11th-14th October), Dublin (8th-11th November) and Harrogate (22nd-25th November) 2018 and at Farfield Mill, Sedbergh, Cumbria (27th November-31st December).
Guest blog post by Denise Jones.