SAlt #Fabric Trail
From Friday 1st November 2019 until Monday 25th November 2019.
Exhibition review by Julie Haddrick.
Originally a typewriter key used as a shortcut symbol for ‘number’, the hashtag symbol has evolved since social technology expert Chris Messina used the # hashtag key on twitter. He posted ‘Whispering tweets’ in 2007, to connect inner circles or groups of like-minded thinkers to his blogs.
The contemporary and connecting purpose of the hashtag symbol appealed to the SAlt group as the focus for their third exhibition. To create a new body of work that challenged and extended each individual artist, yet required interconnectedness on a creative, emotional or physical level proved to be very exciting. Thus the # theme saw each artist design and make an initial one metre wall quilt. Imagery was shared amongst the group to enable each artist to respond to each one, but this time in a 40 cm square format. The final stage of this #fabrictrail series required the artist to create a 40 cm response and conclusion to their suite of quilts, whilst providing a neat grid like format for hanging the exhibition.
# hashtagfabrictrail has established the 5 artists as a recognised exhibition group with a consolidated body of work that demonstrates the artists capacity to evolve and respond in fresh and exciting new ways. Artists Judy Bushby, Julie Haddrick, Francie Mewett, Sara Bell Smith and Wendy Thiele use a textile art framework to create a visually stimulating and tight visual story. This is done through the combined use of theme and format. But there is much more happening than seems at first viewing. It would be simple to create loosely themed work that validates and showcases the excellence and expertise of each artist. Numerous contemporary juried quilt challenges offer exhibition opportunities and enticing monetary prizes or attractive product like high end sewing machines. These exhibitions are both popular and highly prestigious competitions that draw big crowds and exhibition kudos. (SAlt members are well represented here too). This prescribed theme and format make for focussed and cohesive displays. However regarding the SAlt # concept, each artist was to design one then respond to the 4 other large quilts. The connecting # nature of each task proved more perplexing than anticipated. Responding to another persons’ work whilst retaining one’s own style was the key challenge in the linking of each quilt collection. The simplest approach would be to reproduce a section of the challenge quilt and change the colours, the textures or the scale. Interestingly, no one chose this option.
Linking occurred in various ways; some through colour or motif, some as title related, others used fabric type, repeated structure techniques or using format thru changing scale. Thus individual voices were retained but also extended.
Wendy Thiele used all Japanese silk fabrics from vintage kimonos, so her challenge was to link the unique look of her oriental silks, by repeating the colours, patterns, quilted stitch patterns from each SAlt members’ large quilt, into smaller responses. In her #dancing Wendy challenged the symmetry of the geometric # motif and the square quilt arrangement by creating dancing hashtags using a deconstructed format that resulted in playful designs . Wendy ‘s construction technique was machine piecing.
Julie Haddrick explored the # motif as a design concept. A common motif in traditional Japanese Kasuri fabrics is the Igeta symbol, which is the same as the hashtag symbol. ‘Igeta’ depicts the water well and symbolises life and good fortune. It is an ancient Ikat woven fabric called Tate-yoko-gasuri or double kasuri and Julie has a fascination for the pre dyed cotton threads that when woven, create extraordinary patterns. #Kasuri references the woven grid Igeta motif and is constructed from 2 inch squares, using many of her stash of Japanese Kasuri fabrics. Julie used hand and machine piecing construction techniques.
Inspired by Gustave Klimt, Francie Mewett explored the theme #passion, interpreting the colours of emotion by limiting her palette to red and gold. In these she envisioned excitement, fire, heat, joy, warmth, desire, love, and fondness. Her interpretation was a rich, luscious and tactile response with many intricacies of patterning using many golden fabrics. Francie used machine applique with decorative hand stitching
Judy Bushby’s #indigomagic references her love affair with indigo dyeing in Japan and a passion for the stages and technical processes involved. Her indigo motif, an almost exploding hashtag, is outlined with the Orange of persimmon dyed fabric made whilst on one of her many Japanese retreats. The progressions of dyeing indigo to create tonal and colour variations, replicates her love affair with the vat. Indigo is the dye of many cultures and the long term benefits of such a magnificent and popular natural blue dye is utilised in almost every continent’s history and thus links fabrics worldwide. Judy used machine piecing and applique construction techniques
Sarah Bell Smith incorporated her fascination and love for trees and forests into her pieces. She explains that since 1990 the world has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields of forests every hour. Sarah’s environmental focus of #theforestsaredisappearing saw her using pale photographic images of forests collaged behind a stark black hashtag. Her final response was #thereisstillhope leaves room for contemplation and a sense of hope. Sarah used machine applique and collage construction techniques