A new exhibition opens at Barnsley’s The Civic this November which brings together work by two leading figures in the field of art textiles, Polly Binns and Anne Morrell. Light and Line explores the threads that run throughout both their practise, as well as their wider contribution to contemporary textile history.
It is Binns’ Threshold Series that greats you on entering the gallery space. Here each untreated canvas sheet appears to be subtly built up with screen print, pin and top stitching, French knots and light painting (or maybe it’ss spray paint?). Each work appears to represent hibernal coastal landscapes and valleys. However, when viewed alongside her etchings, coastal lines become less defined. Each dry point etching is stark black and white, small and fragile looking and despite their titles linking them to the coastal, scratches in the image reminds me of a bird’s footprints in snow laden field, but that doesn’t matter. I like them all the same.
The middle ground here and a work which ties both artists together is possibly Anne Morrell’s Palimpset: 1. Bearing a resemblance to the Threashold Series on first glance, closer inspection reveals much more intricate detail, a more abstract notion of land and in my opinion, much more pleasing aesthetic. Lying in the centre of the calico canvas is a number of embroidered eyelets but one stands out as being something different. It appears to have been somewhat influenced by embroidered shisha mirrors; a traditional adornment on Indian costume. The canvas is covered with smocking and varying stitch lengths which creates a wash of gatherings and textures. Smocking appears throughout much of Morrell’s work, along with a number of other techniques such as tie-dye, lots hand stitching (as oppose to machine stitch) and an interesting technique which involves the removal of stitching, which acts almost as a stencil.
My choice stand out here has to be Nigrescent, which uses varying thicknesses of wool and many layers of blue/black stitching, spray paint, marker pen and paint. Although there are common threads running throughout Polly Binns’ and Anne Morrell’s work, both could not be more different. It’s here that the difference in the use of colour between both artists’ work is evident. Whereas Binns sacrifices colour for muted tones and has a somewhat clear line and form in her work, Morrell’s weighs heavily towards the abstract and layering. Morrell’s work reminds me of the art of Antoni Tàpies – a Catalonian artist whose sculptural canvases incorporated clay, string, plaster and textiles and much like the two artists here, were informed by the abstraction of their surrounding landscapes.
This is a highly recommended exhibition for those with interest in both art and fashion or textiles.
Light and Line is a Nottingham Castle Museum & Art Gallery touring exhibition and catalogue, funded by Arts Council England (Lottery Funding) and runs until Friday 4th January.