Getting ready to exhibit
Edge-textile artists Scotland has been dedicated to promoting excellence in contemporary art since its formation in 1999 when three textile art groups from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee joined forces. Since then the group has expanded to incorporate artists from across Scotland.
In July 2016 a collection of work by its members was on show at Edinburgh Palette, an independent, creative arts hub in the city, occupying all three galleries. The exhibition entitled Strands Of Time provided a starting point for examining the whole story of Edge – with three galleries presenting three points in time; past, present and future and curated by three teams from within the group.
In this article, Ali Ferguson asks five of her fellow Edge members to share their personal experiences of getting ready for this ambitious exhibition. When preparing work to exhibit so much time and thinking goes into the actual artwork that some practical aspects can be overlooked.
Members share their own personal checklists and key points to the practicalities as well as their creative journey to the all important “selection day” and some reassuring thoughts on what to do when, inevitably, doubt creeps in.
Strands of Time presented Edge members with quite a challenge. Three galleries, two of which are a considerable size, curated by three different teams exhibiting work; past, present and future. All of this to be presented for selection on the same date.
Gallery Two curated by Wilma Graham and Jennifer Hamshere presents members current work.
Gallery Three represents members ‘future’ work. Curated by Ali Ferguson and Kim Gunn, it captures the process of exploration from initial ideas, sketchbooks and samples through to works in progress at any stage.
In order to create a vibrant, spontaneous space within this gallery we added considerably to members stress levels by sending out our call for work as late as possible, leaving them only a matter of weeks to respond.
Bearing in mind that people were only just completing their current pieces we knew that many wouldn’t be far into the process of producing future work so we asked them to present their ideas visually in the form of a Kilner type jar.
For more information visit: Ali Ferguson
An ambitious exhibition with three strands inevitably requires much preparation and input from all concerned.
My personal checklist:
- Finish and photograph work requiring framing well ahead
- Plan hanging and presentation of work, including 3D objects
- Note labelling and packaging requirements
- Complete a price list and keep a copy
Additional requirements for this exhibition included digital images to be provided well in advance for the retrospective, items for the ‘future’ gallery, statements for the catalogue and the past chairman’s wall, and images for the video installation.
The requirement for digital as well as physical work for selection reinforced the need to: keep up-to-date photographic records of ones work, backed up, take photos before a piece goes behind glass and keep track of everything including details of past sales and the owners.
I had no doubt about my submission for the retrospective in Gallery 1.
Tissue of Lies and Spent Forces, are two pieces, still relevant, produced as a statement against the invasion of Iraq, war, loss and displacement, and are featured in Mary Schoeser’s book ‘Textiles The Art Of Mankind’.
For Gallery 2 – three new pieces, reflecting my interest in the book form, recycling paper and old books and furthering my investigation into the early written word. Palimpsest and Tracing Lost Stories began to take shape two months before the exhibition.
Ideas are never a problem, letting some go is harder.
For more information visit: Liza Green
I prepared my personal pieces for Strands of Time as I always do through observation and drawing. Knowing that I also had a role in curating and hanging Gallery 2 lent another dimension. I, therefore, started my own pieces as early as possible and organised units of work that could be portable.
Recently birds of the Corvus family have been a recurring theme – Rooks, Crows and Jackdaws. I was thrilled by these birds as they rose in large raucous crowds from winter trees and flew overhead. I tried to capture this phenomenon with a video camera and developed a trial construction. From this I gathered my flock in various sizes and attitudes. I found that combining interlining and paper made the crisp shapes of the flying birds. Their trees are wrapped wire and the birds now fly from the branches on finer wire.
As I consider my ‘future’ work for Gallery 3 Flight takes another form, that of refugees in their heart-breaking plight. Stitchery and fabric trials are inspired by newspaper images.
Finally, I had to consider packaging and I found large plastic crates the best method of transport.
Key points for preparation:
- Start early.
- Break work into portable units.
- Draw, photograph, trial construction and consider materials
- Consider packaging
For more information visit: Jennifer Hamshere
When preparing for an exhibition I think it is useful to know the Gallery and be aware of the size of the rooms and the quality of the lighting so that you can consider the best way to present your work and also the best fixings to be used.
My piece Glimpses into the Future selected for the retrospective Gallery 1 had been hung successfully in that Gallery before. It is a wet – felted piece using wool and silk fibres to convey an old window looking through shattered glass at the renovation taking place.
As I use mainly felted fibres, my work usually takes the form of hangings but my piece Fairy Forest for Gallery 2 is more delicate than previous pieces so it is framed and behind glass. I couldn’t get the line “there are fairies at the bottom of my garden” out of my head and as I have been experimenting with trapping dried petals and grasses in fibres before adding stitchery I hope that I have created the impression of a place that fairies might inhabit!
For more information visit: Jenny Mackay
Betty Fraser Myerscough
I first exhibited back in 1957 with The Glasgow School of Art as part of a group of students of Kath Whyte who was so keen for people to see Embroidery as an art medium. So different from the reputation it had at that time.
As I continually work producing hangings or pictures, I am glad when it is an open exhibition so that I can exhibit my most recent work on my own personal themes of people, places and words
Submission for Gallery 1, past work, was simple. I sent photos of work in previous exhibitions for selection of which two were chosen.
Work for Gallery 2 involved several new unseen works of which some had to be finished, framed or backed ready for hanging. All to be managed in time for the selection date.
I was unsure if I should submit for Gallery 3 or not but couldn’t resist having a go. I took up the Kilner Jar challenge.
Following on my architectural theme, I wanted to build a 3d tower. From childhood I have always wanted to make a ship in a bottle and so decided to make a tower in a bottle. I bought balsa wood, which I love to use and is easy to cut. I started building my own tower without reference, just using my cut shapes and strips and balance in an abstract way.
I would now like to develop this idea further.
For more information visit: Betty Fraser Myerscough
Despite being aware of exhibition deadlines months ahead, planning which themes to work on for submission and setting key do by dates, why does it all go wrong? An uneasy feeling settled on me as I asked; is this quite right?
Diversion tactics hit in, but by giving myself a break, serendipity moments can occur such as waking up in the middle of the night knowing that I had been concentrating on the wrong aspect. When this was reinforced by a chance encounter, hey presto.
The moment I heard the words
“pass beyond memory into forgetting”*
I had a sudden realisation that previous themes offered fuller exploration and context.
Words and titles help me provide context and purpose to muse on.
- what lies beneath...explores geological and geographical maps
- stick stone stitch... nature table becomes stitched landscapes
- relics and remains… treasures from ours or others past
- pathways …exploring pathways through maps and fellow travellers
- shadowlines… explores and reveals impressions on the landscape and humanscape
These all informed my body of work.
Key points for preparation:
Keep eyes and ears open and allow memories to reveal themselves.
*With thanks to Mike Parker Pearson, Institute Archaeology for the use of the title ”
For more information visit: Judith Aylett
The exhibition Strands Of Time was on show until the 23rd July 2016 at Edinburgh Palette. It is open daily from 10.00am – 4.00pm and members of Edge- textile artists, Scotland will be present and happy to discuss any aspect of the exhibition.
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