We have partnered with Kettle's Yard in Cambridge to create an exhibition titled TOAST Re-New. Five artists have been invited to re-new old TOAST garments and waste materials from indigo-dyed cloth to hand-woven ikats and to repurpose them into something unique and unexpected.
Using a range of techniques from laborious hand embroidery to sculptural weaving, we meet each artist in their studio to talk about the inspirations and craftsmanship behind their practice...
Alice Fox is based in West Yorkshire and her work celebrates both her experience of the land and the inherent detail in organic objects. Sustainability is at the heart of her practice and she uses a mixture of natural fibres and gathered materials, often employing natural dyes, stitch, weave and soft basketry techniques.
Accepting unpredictability is key to Alice's process-led practice. Rather than seeking tightly designed outcomes, serendipity and stains are embraced. Always working within a set of self-imposed parameters, Alice allows herself to see what may emerge from each material, learning about their possibilities and boundaries.
With a previous career in physical geography and nature conservation, the natural world has undoubtedly filtered into Alice's works. Her nearby allotment, filled with fruit and vegetables, provides an abundant source of natural materials, ripe for experimentation.
Abigail Booth works across textiles, drawing and painting. Her work explores the histories of piecework, pigment and cloth. She currently runs her collaborative arts practice Forest + Found, with whom she exhibits internationally. She uses traditional textile techniques in her work as a way to engage and stimulate a wider conversation on craft.
There is a gentle spontaneity to each piece Abigail constructs, often relying on intuition, movement of the body and gesture. Many of the colours she produces are site specific, made by burning, grinding and precipitating a range of raw materials such as wood, bone, earth and iron.
Unlike the more familiar cultural artefacts of history, such as ceramic, stone and bronze, textiles have been the hardest to record. Their absence has left large gaps in the understanding of our ancestral past - this is a notion that deeply interests Abigail and something she explores through the impermanence of her own works.
Hannah Robson celebrates and challenges the limits imposed by the loom, exploring how threads can escape vertical and horizontal pathways and disrupt traditional woven construction. She uses a combination of loom-weaving and lace-making to create woven three-dimensional textile structures.
Using materials that have structural properties such as paper, wire and horsehair, Hannah thinks sculpturally about her thread pathways to create forms that are technically ambitious.
In the process of building cloth, Hannah often creates test pieces on warps, allowing experimentation to inform the material direction. Unraveling, twisting and folding materials within her weaving allows for new ideas to emerge.
Richard McVetis uses labour-intensive, hand embroidery to explore our perception of space and time. His process is slow and almost ritualistic, each piece becoming a map of both the human hand and a visual record of the hours spent making.
Deliberately minimalist, he uses a limited palette of colours and materials. Yet within this limited field he is able to examine a sense of scale - the tiny, intricate stitches capturing a sense of vast time and creating a dominant mass through their repetition.
There is a sense of stillness and control to his process, as though his meticulous and rhythmic actions can restore a sense of order and calm. The intense detail makes them highly intimate, drawing the viewer ever closer.
Sophie Rowley is a material designer with an academic background in textile design. She reveals the hidden aesthetics of everyday matter through her innovative experimentation with process and craft.
Applying a series of deconstruction and reconstruction processes, Sophie treats waste materials as her raw materials. The non-standardised nature of each reclaimed material informs Sophie's design process, all with unique variations in colour, composition and texture.
In a hands-on approach, Sophie researches through making things, sometimes using industrial techniques. Her outcomes are often not predictable but rather become clear during the process. While experimenting, unexpected forms lead Sophie's designs in completey new directions.
Words by Daisy Gray.
Photography by Rory Gibson and Yeshen Venema.
The finished pieces will be exhibited in the Research Space at Kettle's Yard from 30th October to 3rd November 2019. We are also running a series of workshops with the artists alongside the exhibition.
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