It is hard to believe that at the end of this week, in fact in two days time, TSG members will assemble in Stroud to start the hanging of the exhibition. Long in the planning, collectively hours of work have gone in to the organisation and details of the exhibition, and then there is the production of the work. So tonight, another member’s work spotlighted here, this time Alice Fox. Alice is another member well known through her books and the workshops she holds all over the country. Many people will remember the exquisite work on show at last year’s Knitting & Stitching Shows so I asked her what visitors to DIS/rupt will find.
I am working within the area of environmental disruption. My initial thoughts were sparked by an interest in galls: the structures that plants create in response to disruptive activity by certain insects. But I was also thinking early on about responses species have to make to climatic or habitat changes. ‘Adapt or die’, ‘sink or swim’; species are already finding ways to survive as climatic conditions affect the habitats in which they live. Others are unable to adapt or move quickly enough. Many species construct cocoons or nests; structures that provide shelter, safety, or in which metamorphosis takes place.
Can you tell us something about the piece you are working on for DIS/rupt?
My piece is called ‘Galling’. Initially I studied a variety of galls, many that I had collected myself or seen in natural history collections. Drawing is part of my practice. I draw found objects as a way of getting to know them, studying the detail. Many of these drawings were made using home-made oak gall ink: drawing galls, using galls. I then started to explore ways of constructing similar three-dimensional forms. These are like sketches but in 3D rather than flat on paper. I started to construct 3D forms using found plastics, imagining what sort of structures might result from an evolution of insects adapting to make use of the plastics that are persisting in our environment.
What are the materials and processes that you are working with?
I wanted to use found materials in this piece. I am presenting an imagined future scenario where insect species have adapted or evolved to make use of plastics and man-made materials rather than the plants they currently use as their hosts. It was therefore important to use those plastic materials to construct the piece. Most of the materials were collected on beaches, often in remote places where the rubbish is being washed ashore from far away. I am using a variety of 3D stitch techniques: looping, wrapping, stitching, weaving. I am building up structures, either attached to a plastic object or added on after construction. I get a huge amount out of the process of working with found materials. By working with the material I learn about its properties, what I can and can’t do with it. I was surprised to find I really enjoyed working with some of the plastics. Some of the bright colours are a complete departure from what I normally work with too – a refreshing change!
Are you able to give us an idea of the scale of your piece?
‘Galling’ is made up of a series of 15 small ‘objects’, presented as if they were a collection of specimens in a museum. They start with objects that are natural but wouldn’t normally have galls forming on them (bone and shell) and then move onto plastics, becoming gaudier in colour.
Is the finished piece to be free standing or wall mounted?
The piece will be plinth based; a series of three Perspex boxed collections.
What message do you hope the viewers of your work will take away from the exhibition?
I hope to raise more questions than answers through ‘Galling’. Such imagined forms could be seen as light hearted, even playful. But there is also a sinister side to them: How far might evolution have to go to cope with human-induced climate and habitat changes? Perhaps there is an acceptance of the current situation within these pieces, an attempt at being realistic about future scenarios. Or these could be seen as a statement against the situation we are creating. I certainly find it ‘galling’ to see the plastic pollution that is such a norm in our environment. Is it heartening to think that some species might adapt to our enforced environmental changes? But what of all those species that don’t manage to change fast enough…
You are one of the TSG tutors running workshops during the DIS/rupt exhibition, briefly, what can your students expect from the class?
We will be exploring a series of natural 3D structures through drawing and construction techniques. The emphasis will be on process and experimentation rather than specific outcomes. I am hoping that there will be discussion and reflection about disruptive processes in the natural world.
Thank you Alice, your work will be of enormous interest to visitors and as always it is fascinating to hear the thinking behind the work.
For more information about DIS/rupt and full booking details for Alice’s and the other workshops find them here SIT Select 2017.
Places are filling so don’t leave it too long before you act. Information about DIS/rupt and Textile Study Group can be found at our website TSG
Bookings for the Symposium, DIS/rupting Tradition featuring Alice Kettle, June Hill, Melanie Miller and Michelle Stephens can be made at Symposium
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