Thread: Contemporary Textiles

Ailish Henderson shares her view on the world of embroidery - it's the Ailist!

Exhibition Review

Thread: Contemporary Textiles – Rheged in Penrith, Cumbria.

Lets talk textile exhibitions… this one is titled Thread:  Contemporary Textiles. 

Although this exhibition was held for only a few months, its content is timeless. All the artists involved proved to showcase both interesting and cutting edge work. We have previously featured a few of them and will continue to do so in the future, as we follow their progressive careers within the arts.

The press release for this show tells us: ‘ ‘THREAD: Contemporary Textiles’ features more than 20 artists, working in embroidery, cross stitch, tapestry, quilting and other textile and needle arts. It includes street art scenes rendered in Cross Stitch by US artist Jacquelyn Royal, beautiful ‘Thread Paintings’ by Russian artist Vera Shimunia, science fiction Tapestry by Norwegian artist Kristin Sæterdal and intricate miniature folk art dolls by British artist Megan Griffiths.”

I took a trip down to review the gallery:

The exhibition covers a wide variety of Textile related techniques, making it fresh and appealing to a wide audience.  Textiles as a medium can get negative rap; you all know it, the visions of the staid traditional lady, sitting in her chair with nothing to do except stitch neat little lines (which by the way, can be beautiful in their own right….okay, I am getting away from the point….).  This gallery of works, conveys how through this medium, a vibe of positive change can be found, both for the maker and observer.  The work also deals with Folk Lore and to top it all off, there is even a Bourgeois thrown in the mix.

Read all about it, this poster was situated at the start of the exhibition.

This artist, Rhiannon Williams works with contemporary social issues and links them with her distinct, tapestry style. Her MA work can be viewed here. Here is a sample of her work:

Thread: Contemporary Textiles
I loved this modern life portrait by Rhiannon Williams.  Although I’d be slightly scared if that was my cat 😉
R williams
Another sample of Williams’ work

We have featured the work of Adam Pritchett recently, so it was a treat to view his work up close.  I love his use of wool with embroidery; his love of nature is obvious:

Thread: Contemporary Textiles
Sometimes we all need to hide in the trees.
Adam Pritchett Bee Rheged
Look at this embroidery by Pritchett, framed in a hoop as a finished piece

We couldn’t get enough of his work:

A Pritchett framed works
Look at the way his work has been framed – this shows that we do not need fancy ways and means, an embroidery hoop can look great

Moving on, I first noticed the work of Kirsty Whitlock when she won an award by the Embroiderers’ Guild years ago.  I like how she silently conveys a message through media and world events, via the use of materials such as newspaper:

Thread: Contemporary Textiles
Distressed to send a message…

Megan Ivy Griffiths is well known for her folk art embroidered characters, not unlike Stewart Easton’s work, it was lovely to see samples up close:

Megan ivy Griffiths uses lovely box frames, to let her work voice its own story

I love how she uses natural resources to add extra decoration. In the photo above, note the use of pressed flowers in the background.

Another sample by Megan ivy Griffiths, this time in tiny people like form – so cute!

If you like her work, view more on her Instagram.

Lastly I’ve got to shout out to Jacquelyn Royal and her graffiti Cross Stitch:

Thread: Contemporary Textiles
Los Angeles 2 – Cross Stitch

Check out her website for more of her work.

This exhibition may be over, however why not make use of the artists and try to find out more about each one? In the future, check out this gallery to discover more exciting exhibitions.

Keep a look out for what is on around you locally.  I know myself that from time to time I will have a moan that there is not more on up the country, however just look at this event.  I really think Rheged is a place which needs nurturing and some applause, cos the more we notice it, the more they will be inclined to have shows like this one.