Tuesday, 21 April 2015

MAKE/CREATE exhibition

For the all new LONDON CRAFT WEEK I've been invited to be take part in an experimental collaboration with a contemporary artist.

Painted Cloth: distressing the surface
Painted Cloth: distressing the surface
MAKE / CREATE will pair 13 craft scholars (me included) from the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) with 13 contemporary artists selected by Griffin Gallery, for a creative dialogue with each other. 

The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston Road, London, NW1 2BA

The exhibition will take place at the pop-up, underground Crypt Gallery in St Pancras Church, Euston. It is one of many events taking place during LONDON CRAFT WEEK (6 - 10th May). 
London craft week logo

The city's new annual event will showcase "exceptional craftsmanship through a journey-of-discovery" and will feature hidden workshops and both celebrated and upcoming makers alongside famous shops, galleries and luxury brands.

The spirit of the Griffin Gallery's MAKE/CREATE exhibition "lies in the desire to demonstrate the contemporary nature of craft, and the craft involved in contemporary art – changing perceptions of both" (Griffin Gallery)

Test pieces for the final painted cloth
Test pieces for the final painted cloth
I am collaborating with conceptual artist Chantal Powell on a work that combines my large Tudor painted cloths (such as the one pictured below) with her theatrical installation pieces.  

Reproduction Elizabethan painted cloth: "Kent Multivine"
Reproduction Elizabethan painted cloth: "Kent Multivine"

Titled “Veneer” our installation will play on notions of imitation, illusion and deception.

At this stage the components are still coming together as we work from separate studios 100 miles apart (Southampton and Hastings) so for now, here's my perspective. 

The collaboration began when we first met in February 2015, paired because Griffin Gallery saw potential creative connections between our very different artistic practices. 

With Chantal's focus on concepts of truth and illusion, reality and deception, she honed in on similar elements in my Elizabethan work.  The wall paintings and painted cloths I reproduce from the 16th and 17th centuries are laden with imitation. Our domestic ancestors covered their walls in aspirational motifs designed to express status, intellect and allegiance. For example the painted cloth below mimics expensive wooden panelling.

reproduction Elizabethan painted cloth
Our reproduction Elizabethan painted cloth for
Shakespeare's Birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon
These decorative paintings often imitated expensive tapestries, wainscotting and woven textiles. Motifs could be borrowed from craftsmen's patterns books for ironwork or knot gardens, glazing patterns or embroidery stitches and re-appropriated as wall decoration. The C16th wall painting below references luxurious gold thread embroidery.

Original Elizabethan wall painting in Oxford
Original Elizabethan wall painting in Oxford

And so grew the idea of creating a dramatic painted cloth with historic faux elements and setting it amongst sculptural objects that present us with more falsity: pretend panelling, artificial floorboards, the illusion of aged surfaces and expensive materials. 

An exploration of how both then and now we create domestic settings that reflect a reality we aspire to.   

Sewing 3 panels of my cloth together
Sewing 3 panels of my cloth together to make one big piece

The installation will be animated by amateur footage of a guided tour of Hearst Castle, William Randolph Hearst's pastiche laden mansion in California. Shoehorned with genuine and reproduction architecture and antiques, this Hollywood fantasy both deceives and beguiles visitors as we hope to do on a smaller scale at The Crypt Gallery in May.

We hope you can make it to MAKE/CREATE for a show that promises some intriguing collaborations between artists and craftsmen. 

We can't wait to see what our fellow collaborators have been working on too. 

map of Crypt Gallery near St Pancras Station, London
Map of Crypt Gallery near St Pancras Station, London