The title of this exhibition is Black/White - a Journey through Contrast.
As the name suggests, the pieces were woven using mainly black and white materials. However, within this restriction, visitors to the exhibition will notice that there are many different shades of white and many different shades of black. The hues of black and white can change in response to the type of yarn used, whether it is wool with a matt finish, linen, silk or synthetic yarns which often have a sheen to them reflecting the light. In the minimalist and modular work Black on Black by Marilyn Rea-Menzies, this effect has been emphasized by the varying use of different yarns and textures. In other works, such as Reflections by Wilson Henderson, and Meander by Agnes Hauptli, the use of black and white threads together create the grey tonal values.
The use of colour often blurs the nature of the technique, and the structure of the cloth is often regarded as secondary to the colour effects. With the use of only black and/or white, the structure, materials used and the overall design of each piece takes on a heightened significance. This is particularly evident in many of the works on show. See the varieties of structure possible in works such as Sweeping Changes by Trish Armour, Through the Mists of Time by Robyn Parker and Transposition by Trudii Newman. Mixed Messages by Alison Francis is an example of the ancient kelim techniques being used in a modern contemporary way. Also Helen Luke’s A Black and White Case for Recycling uses alternative materials to create a work with a strong environmental message. The Ghiordes knot technique used in this work has an ancient history as well.
The structure of any fabric is of primary importance to the success of the fabric and its ability to function as desired, and yet, this is not always understood, even by those who use fabrics of many kinds throughout their daily lives. This exhibition gives the viewer a reason to examine and evaluate the fabrics on show and promotes the idea that the intrinsic success is closely related to the structure.
Weaving is a technical art based on working within the grid provided by the intersection of warp and weft. This gave rise to the concept of using the grid as a basis for the exhibition. Participants were encouraged to produce work that is of non-domestic scale, either very large as in the four-sided textile pillars hanging in grid formation in the centre of the gallery, or very small, as in some of the modular textiles which are also displayed in grid formations, many pieces working together to form one whole. Brigit Howit’s work Fundamentals is an excellent example of this.
Elizabeth Arnold’s fine work Extinction, Anne Field’s Fragments 2004 AD and Lindy Chinnery’s Hi-Fibre Diet are contemporary works that challenge the perceptions of the viewer as to the function of textiles. The weavers in this exhibition rose to the challenge of the technical restrictions put on them by the curator and produced art textiles of great beauty and intricate structure.
→ Black/White: a Journey through Contrast, 2004, publication
→ Black/White: a Journey through Contrast, 2004, exhibition card