Friday, October 19, 2007

Studio 21

(Above: Assembled fiber works by Jacky Russell. These are inspired by the "faded paintwork, peeling plaster, and crumbling brickwork" of Venice. Her final step is to assemble the created textures into portals that suit the layers of surfaces perfectly.)

I spent quite a lot of time in the Studio 21 area of at the Knitting and Stitching Show. This exhibit was to mark the group's tenth anniversary. It was called "In Relief". Their website is:

The group evidentially started in 1997 with the twenty-one graduates of that year's Diploma Course from East Berkshire College in Windsor (a two year program)...Jean Littlejohn's students. Over the years, some of the original members dropped out and new graduates were added. Today, there are thirteen members. The group is "dedicated to and pushing the boundaries of creativity in Textile Art for the 21st Century". They meet monthly, exhibit together once or twice a year, and hold "open studio" days.

The work was wonderful and varied. Each artist seemed to have confidence in her own, personal direction. I particularly liked Linda Robinson's Redemption, everything created by Jacky Russell, and both pieces by Liz Heywood. I carefully studied Under the Arches by Sandra Meech and enjoyed the subtly of Linda Gleave's meteorological inspired pieces. Anne Froggatt was manning the exhibition and was a delight.

(Above: Anne Froggatt smiling in front of her two stitched and felted abstractions of the countryside in Cumbria.)

Because Blogger takes so long to upload images, I have created a "set" on Flickr! of photographs of work seen at the show...the work that allowed photography, that is. These can be found here. (By the way, the images here are "clickable" for closer inspection.) To access the first of two sets of images taken at the Knitting and Stitching show 2007, click here. To access the second set, click here. I have left descriptions on most of the images.

(Above: Detail of Linda Robinson's Redemption. The brochure included the following statement:

In my personal work I am instinctively drawn toward the interplay between textures and words. I find that i often remember places by the trees that I have seen, noting their interesting bark and twisted shape. Words and phrases haunt me and I feel that they have to be explored and used in some way. This current piece is based on an ancient olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane, whose words reflect Christ's crucifixion through to the present day when it is looking forward and hoping for peace.

I liked the piece so much before I read the statement. After reading them, it was like falling in love a second time. I especially liked how a tree inspired words and how the artist didn't try to copy the vision but tried to capture the feeling of the experience.)
One thing that really amazed me, however, was that most of these talented women didn't really seem to be pursuing their fibers work in the ways I understand artistically. Only one, Sandra Meech has her own website. More than half the members don't seem to list more than a couple exhibitions, mainly with the Studio 21 group. Perhaps this is just the approach to art that is most common in England. I thought that these artists would all have long lists of juried shows and have work in dozens of important collections. I guess working in fibers is difficult no matter where one is, what one's training is, and no matter how impressive the work is. Overall, everything shown by the members of Studio 21 was first rate.

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