Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Dreaming House - Art Textiles at Newstead Abbey

Etching of Newstead Abbey
Yesterday, I visited Newstead Abbey for the second time. Instead of collecting work from an exhibition I was going to see one.  It is a beautiful location and is famous for being the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron.

Newstead Abbey, the perfect location for this absorbing collection of contemporary textiles.  The works displayed makes reference to Byron and his work connecting to themes of romanticism, memory, childhood, supernatural, ruin and decay.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

Portrait of Lord Byron

I had my husband with me so the catalogue was most beneficial in helping him understand what the artist was trying to achieve.  

Vital Organ by Shelly Goldsmith
The work Vital Organ by Shelly Goldsmith was one I found difficult to connect with and very much needed the catalogue to help me understand.  I feel this was due to the fact you couldn't get close enough to examine the piece.

In Charles II dressing room there was situated Heather Belcher's work, The Sampler.  I very much enjoyed the use of felt and the photos that had been transferred onto the surface referencing a dressmaker's book of patterns and samplers.  These were well displayed and needed to be on a blank space to appreciate their form which to me were very much like pages removed from a book.  

The Sampler by Heather Belcher
Caroline Broadhead, Ready to Tear, was also displayed on a white background.  This gave the opportunity for shadowing to come into
Ready to Tear
Caroline Broadhead
play; one of which is painted directly onto the wall as in "troupe l'oeil" alongside a natural shadow that had occurred due to the lighting.

For colour and dalliance, I enjoyed the work of Kashif Nadim Chaudry.  I saw his work displayed in the Manchester Craft Centre last year and found it intriguing then, it was great to get up close to his work to explore the detail. It is a cacophony of colours and textiles.  I love the use of materials, collected items, mixed techniques, a coming together to form these decorative homages to his craftsmanship instilled in him at an early age.

One of my favourite rooms was the without doubt the library, where I browsed, without touching the many books.  In this room I found what looked like at first glance to be a row of three paper dresses, which in fact where printed cotton, displayed in one of the wooden glass cabinets. The three dresses from the piece, No Escape: Reclaimed dresses from the children's home Cincinnati.  These dresses had been donated to the home but were deemed too old fashioned. Goldsmith had been acquired them from her sister who had worked in the home. The artist had printed images of flash flooding onto them to emphasis their vulnerability.  I found this piece to be very thought provoking almost taking me back to my time at boarding school at such a tender age.

Detail of work by Kashif Nadim Chaudry
Other artists work on display included Debbie Lawson who shared her Persian Stag and Persian tiger, Claire's coming out dress by Grayson Perry, Lacy Days by Radford Care Group; where Annabel Elliott let residents handle and talk about the Nottingham lace industry. 

It was documented and a series of stereoscopic portraits were created to view using a stereoscopic camera. Emily Bates with her Falls of Peace, Lucy Brown - Squeeze and Petti- fur-coat, Michiko Kawarabayashi - Germination, Judy Liebert - Dreaming a House, Sally Morfill - Enough and Jeanette Appleton/Naoko Yoshimoto Souvenir Line: Nomadic Memory which I appeared to have missed.

Germination by Michiko Kawarabayashi
In Charles II room on display were Japanese prints which didn't seem to fit in the overall exhibition collection, but I felt it was supposed to connect with the styling in Henry VII lodgings. I very much enjoyed the prints as I enjoy the majority of japanese crafts; the colouring, the detail and patterning and the very shallow perspective. Moving into Henry  VII lodgings the work of Michiko Kawarabayashi was positioned on the floor, it appeared very sterile against the colours and textures of the surround Japanese panelling.  However, referring to the catalogue renounced my original thoughts as she connects to her sadness and reflection of the erosion of Japanese traditions.

Overall, I felt the exhibition was of great value as you were able to view both contemporary and historical items sitting side by side.  My favourite piece would have to be Anonymous, date unknown, which was a white on white tablecloth which was a tribute to all the unknown needlewomen who sewed and embroidered at Newstead Abbey and other great houses over the centuries.


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