All images: Bita Ghezelayagh, Rethreading & Retracing installation view, 2020. Photographer: Rehana Virani, Courtesy of Aga Khan Centre Gallery.
The Aga Khan Centre Gallery is currently hosting an exhibition by the Iranian textile artist Bita Ghezelayagh, Rethreading and Retracing: Textiles & Techniques. Ghezelayagh is an artist whose fascination with historical textile materials and contemporary objects inspires the need to rethread, retrace, renew and reinvent the collection of archival materials gathered during her life.
Somewhere between an artisan and a conceptual artist, Bita Ghezelayagh has an MA in Architecture from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris La Villette. She worked for the Association of Iranian Calligraphers in Tehran and was art director of three notable Iranian films, including The Pear Tree by Dariush Mehrjui. In 2003 she studied felt-making in Iran and had her first solo exhibition at the House of Artists Khane Honarmandan in Tehran in 2008.
Works in the exhibition use Ghezelayagh’s trademark found materials; velvet, silk, felt and carpet fragments. She recycles existing textiles, retaining the evidence of the skill of cutters, weavers, embroiderers and printers. Using their artefacts, she elevates items such as threadbare rugs to make a statement about our age of casual disposal. Her triptychs make use of discarded materials such as traditional scrubbing gloves, while her diptych, with its velvet woven over several months on a traditional loom, is decorated with the shapes of Cypress Trees. These are fashioned from scraps of carpets from the four corners of Iran, each one representative of a different artistic tradition, meeting as an expression of a bigger cultural whole.
Clothing is regularly included in her pieces, for example, shepherds’ cloaks, carpet tunics and metal breastplates, as is human communication, represented by pen nib motifs. She also often uses mirror shapes to form compositions reminiscent of Islamic geometric patterns found throughout Iran that allude to her cultural heritage.
For more information about the exhibition visit www.agakhancentre.org.uk.