Worn to the edge is an exhibition that brings together 9 textile artists working in different media. Each artist has explored the theme of “worn to the edge” which carries with it a range of possible meanings. Sharing a common interest in the textile and fibre these artists have put together a stunning array of work. I must admit I was a little dubious that I would enjoy a textile based exhibition such as this. Meeting a few online friends working in this area showed me that it could be much more than nanna rugs and pompoms atop woolly hats. The wild fibre artist’s exhibition includes papermaking and sculptured forms as well as art to wear. This exhibition is on display at Prospect Gallery until the 22nd of July.
Bev Bills’ work is appropriately titled “On the edge”, it is a mixed media piece incorporating a photographic transfer with embroidered elements. It has been machine stitched in places with various coloured thread. The work shows the rusted edge of a sheet of corrugated iron; corroded and falling apart. Bills has stitched over the surface in a wave-like pattern, reflecting the surface structure and using many colours, almost in an effort to repair the dilapidated metal. Beneath the work, she has patched a piece of worn denim with 9 buttons. The number of buttons could refer to the number artists in this group that meets and exhibits together. We all have worn aspects of our lives that need to be carefully patched and repaired. Through this work we can see the result of this patching and reworking is that we can become something new. Revitalised and restored thought we may be we are never the same.
Gem Congdon interpreted the theme in a different manner. She viewed the manner in which we as humans have worn animals to the edge of extinction. For Congdon, the main element of her work is texture. It is a patchwork of rectangular and square sheets of fabric that mimic the hides of endangered beasts. These squares are contrasted against a dark background. Closer inspection reveals that the hides themselves are worn and frazzled. The darkened background serves to highlight this feature. Our impact on the environment is often a slow and gradual thing. “Edge of extinction” reflects this process. As our clothing can be worn to shreds through constant use or neglect, so to can our environment.
“Fracture” is a wall hanging constructed by Liz Steveson. She has constructed this work with a pair of worn child’s jeans. The background is an assortment of treasured fabrics. This interpretation of “Worn” is different from the other artists in that Steveson brings a nostalgic remnant into the work. Children’s clothing is something that carries a lot of memories. We see a deeper meaning in this piece; a mother’s love in patching a child’s favourite garment again and again until eventually they grow out of them. As I sort through my own children’s clothing a myriad of memories flood into your mind. This work is no doubt the same for Liz Steveson, precious memories contained in this object may only be known to the artist. “Fracture” is a work composed of edges, and not just in a physical sense, entire and jagged, sharp and graded, rough and smooth, straight and curved can describe moments in one’s life just as easily as a piece of fabric.