We have had another busy start to our academic year, and were very pleased to welcome everyone to the new year.
In October I went to see the Anni Albers exhibition yesterday and it was fabulous. The highlight for me was six prayers and I sat in front of this for half an hour. As a weaver it was easy to be continually looking at the techniques but with this piece it transcended process. It is so powerfully beautiful and even the camera phones were still.
Apart from this piece I was struck by the scale of pieces I have only seen as photographs. Many were much smaller. Her use of different thread types built up layers of interest. Often in non colour with just a thread of a hue adding to the mix.
Her warps were often black and white, with grey created through 1/1, 2/2 blocks. I found this fascinating. Then she would add a colour and let the black, white and grey blocks create tints, tones and shades. I am going to throw a black and white warp on and play with it. I think I will learn a lot about tonal balance to take into my colour work.
She also used a lot of warp and weft manipulation techniques that we now associate with rigid heddle weaving. They were used to create layers, sometimes opening holes to look through and other times with a double cloth structure so she could control what is seen through.
Rose II was where she used full colour to great effect in a gorgeous soft piece. And I loved her pieces based on text.
I could go on and on... and will as it settles and feeds into my work. It was good to see the process and her research alongside her pieces. Weavers would take a lot from it but non weavers would be left bemused, as though they were looking at a foreign language. The art language was used as critique as in the U.K. we are so unused to seeing textile art in a mainstream gallery. I have seen critics unable to engage with Textiles full of technique as art pieces, preferring to take found object pieces that happen to include textiles. They have needed the fine art language to be able to access them.
Tate Modern have done well to present such a specialist exhibition and have it so well received. Anni’s work has been made accessible to all viewers as I listened to the comments being made. A testament to her work and, hopefully, this will start opening minds for other fine art textiles to be given such a showcase in the future. If you can get to see this exhibition then do make the effort.
Kate & The ArtyBirds
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