Material: Textile featured clothes from 8th century Peru to 21st century Denmark as well as prints, rugs, tapestries and embroideries made by some of the greatest names in Western art.
Textile has often been associated with merely furnishing the home or decorating the human body but now artists – many of whom work across media – are increasingly starting to use them as a means of artistic expression and as an equivalent to paint. In particular we focus on contemporary tapestry with a remarkable 3D work by Goshka Macuga. ‘Make Tofu Not War’, first shown at Frieze London in 2018, that layers visual references including the Tower of Babel, Noah’s Ark, a cosmonaut, a space capsule and environmental protestors dressed as animals, invites us to speculate on what we are doing to today’s landscape.
Francesca Lowe’s 2008 tapestry Trump has an ethereal beauty that references the darkness of Old Master paintings with their gloomy hues and philosophical narratives. Depicting an epic struggle between two male forms – one dark, one light – the figures represent two states of being or egos, while Laure Prouvost’s work like a negative photograph, depicting a 1950s snapshot of a trumpet player in a pork-pie hat with 1950s Hummer cars, uses the very fabric of the material as a vehicle for nostalgia.
Textiles exist everywhere in our lives, our history, our cultures and our politics – and indeed the finely worked cloth of ancient civilisations were used as both a tax and currency. The very best textiles are in many cultures still the most prized of all possessions, even more precious than gold or silver. Raphael is perhaps as treasured for the enormous tapestries he designed for the Sistine chapel as he is for his paintings; the Gobelins tapestries that Louis XIV ordered for his palace at Versailles were an important part of its grandeur.
Material: Textile showcased works ranging from the simple geometric beauty of cloth from the 8th century in Peru to a Tibetan saddlecloth dating from the 19th century.
We also showcased the first collaborations between artists (including Picasso, Matisse and Hepworth) and fabricators, with a collection of Modernist silks and fabrics presented by Gray M.C.A as well as knitted jumpers by Freddie Robins who challenges the notion of knitting as a passive, benign activity and the countryside as a pastoral idyll, with a collection of reworked hand-knitted jumpers that feature pictures on them of suicides, car crashes, houses on fire and helicopters in the air.
A highlight of the show was a 26 metre long sculpture, The Onion Farm, which ran the length of our medieval barn created by leading Danish fashion designer and artist Henrik Vibskov that was first shown at the Victoria & Albert Museum in September 2018. The light, dynamic, Mikado-like structure, composed of colourful carwash brushes and red fabric onions served as the runway for a catwalk show by a number of international fashion designers including Vibskov on 26 April 2019.
Anni Albers, Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir, Adam Belcher, Louise Bourgeois, Georges Braque, Antoni Clavé, Oscar Dominguez, Donald Hamilton Fraser, Roger Fry, Magne Furuholmen, Liam Gillick, Ashley Havinden, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Des Hughes, Inca, Kurt Jackson, Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, Joseph Kosuth, Francesca Lowe, Goshka Macuga, Henri Matisse, Henry Moore, Christian Newby, Ben Nicholson, Pablo Picasso, John Piper, Laure Prouvost, Jacky Puzey, Alan Reynolds, Freddie Robins, William Scott, Nicholas de Staël, Hans Tisdal, Rosemarie Trockel, Gavin Turk, Keith Vaughan, Paule Vézelay, Wari and Henrik Vibskov.