How diverse textile artists respond to a common prompt
Responding to specific environments is familiar territory for solo artists in residence. But what happens when 9 very different artists are given the same prompt for the creation of new work?
The Brunel Broderers are a group of artists living in the south west of England with a reputation for their innovative textile practice which encompasses a diverse range of approaches to materials, methodologies, and concepts.
In this article, part of our Creative development series, Liz Harding tells us about their shared experience in responding to Tudor hunting lodge and National Trust building Newark Park in Gloucestershire.
Liz Harding: ‘New Worke’ is the way the building of Newark Park, Gloucestershire, in the sixteenth century by Sir Nicholas Poyntz, was described. ‘New Worke’ is also the title of the latest exhibition by the Brunel Broderers.
Members have been inspired by the house, its contents and grounds to produce their latest collection of work. This will be shown in both house and grounds during June and July 2016. The collection will be situated within a number of the rooms as well as around the grounds and in the gallery.
Each member‘s work reveals a personal response to aspects of Newark Park. Several of the Broderers are fascinated by the history of the house.
Stephanie has been thinking about those who have lived and more specifically worked in the house. Evidence of this work is apparent in the wear on the steps leading to the kitchens made by generations of servants.
Through knitting, darning and filming she makes references to the ephemeral nature of the lives of these unknown people who come and go, attending to the basics of life, leaving tiny traces in the fabric of the building. It connects with her interest in darning, making beautiful and noticeable that which holds memories.
In the kitchen, she projects a film showing ‘ghosts’ moving through an arch that leads up to the servants quarters. Made with long strips of cream striped wool and viscose the surface is semi-transparent and textured allowing the images to dance halfway between here and the imagined as they climb the back stairs.
In the gallery, her work is more detailed. Lengths of wool and viscose stripe, wool crochet and silk have the signs of time marked into their surface and include lengths that have been left outside for two to three months and coloured with rhubarb, rust and tea to create the colours that match the surrounding grounds and stonework.
Carla has something different to say about service. She has been researching links between the owners of the house and slavery.
In the house amongst a collection of porcelain will be found an organdie ‘jug’ inscribed with text about the effects of slavery. In the gallery is a set of rectangular medallions made from paper and cloth that refer to aspects of contemporary slavery and mistreatment.
Outside she is presenting an installation of a car park space which refers to the motor car as a modern symbol of slavery.
Carolyn is thinking about history related to the house as a hunting lodge and her work is around ideas of medieval hunting. She has made a series of small folding books each meticulously cased.
In the gallery will be found the collection of small rubber stamps she has carved with which to print the books.
Julie makes a historical connection with a Stuart stump work casket. She is fascinated with concepts of frailty and damage and this seventeenth-century artefact is in a delicate state.
Her contemporary facsimile of it is made with the sewing machine. She calculates that the front piece of this project has taken approximately 315 hours to complete. Throughout this process, she has questioned the skill and determination of young people of the past who have left us these wonderful antiquities, compared with her youth, when she too enjoyed the excitement of a new craft kit, and with today’s youth, who spend many hours online.
In the gallery, she will display kits from her past, representations of projects that she spent many hours working on, a time when she developed her passion for making.
Others are interested in what is seen in the house and grounds today. Louise references the birds and their feathers found around the estate with machine and hand stitched imagery.
As well as hanging and framed fabrics on which she draws and stitches with hand and machine she shows a series of her small intricate sketchbooks.
Liz Hewitt’s continuing interest in leaves and their potential for eco-dyeing will feature for work in the grounds and gallery.
For the house, she is making a ‘Kantha’ style quilt using symbols representing the history of Newark Park in the centre of which is an image of the house.
Liz Harding’s work is characterised by her interest in colour and the potential of cotton organdie. Indoors her work is inspired by the large east window of the eighteenth century painted glass as well as the cabinet of blue and green glass on the second-floor landing. ‘The Blues in Three Movements’ is a screen interpreting fragments of pattern taken from some of the house textiles.
Outside another screen form called ’Summer quits the Garden in Colour’ again uses organdie and references the patchworks within the house with the colours of summer flowers. Organdie is both dyed and painted and the sewing machine is used both as means of construction and drawing tool. Long threads on the surface add a dynamic sense of movement and hand stitch flecks of additional colour.
Linda is also inspired by the many textiles to be seen in the house, particularly the Kilim on the dining room table. While exploring the symbols found in Anatolian Kilims she began to focus on how the peacock is represented as the birds have a strong presence in and around Newark Park and its walled garden.
Some cultures perceive them as the guardians of royalty, others as divine, offering protection and immortality. Another belief is that the birds were expelled from paradise, perhaps leading to the idea for some that the feathers are unlucky. Their shapes in the rugs are of course simplified, often bizarre with a comical, rather endearing aspect.
For Corinne, the house suggests stories and hidden secrets. Her work for the show uses the inspiration of nineteenth-century fairy stories, in particular, ‘The Wild Swans’ by Anderson and ‘The Twelve Brothers’ by Grimm.
Stories will feature during the exhibition with storytellers telling tales about the house, details of when this will happen will appear on the Newark Park website as well as on the Brunel Broderers blog.
Artists showing work in this exhibition are Linda Babb, Liz Harding, Julie Heaton, Liz Hewitt, Carla Mines, Corinne Renow-Clarke, Carolyn Sibbald, Louise Watson and Stephanie Wooster.
The artists will be stewarding on Wednesday’s and at weekends and will be happy to talk about their work. As well as storytelling there will be a silk painting workshop. Dates and details of these events, as well as regular updates on the progress of work for the exhibition, can be found on the groups Blog.
For more information visit: www.Brunelbroderers.blogspot.co.uk
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