Commission for Shire Hall Gallery

Talking Textiles

12 January – 10 March 2013

“This exhibition features work by 8 contemporary textile artists who explore how stories are represented through their work. Using a wide range of materials, techniques and processes each artist creates unique pieces which on further inspection reveal their fascinating stories.
From life in the sixties to the women and children working in the cotton mills during the 1900s and even King Kong visiting Birmingham City Centre – this work will fascinate and intrigue you!
Exhibiting Artists: Stewart Easton, Viv Hew, Val Jackson, Faith Kane, Ruth Pigott, Donna Rumble-Smith, Ruth Singer and Christine Stanford. “

I’m exhibiting the Circles Coat which was collaboratively made earlier this year, as well as a new commission. 

Circles Coat

The commission

The curator was interested in my Monumental Folly pieces and wanted to commission a piece inspired by the Shire Hall Gallery building. The gallery is based in converted 18th century court building with surviving panelled courtrooms, pastel-coloured plasterwork ceilings, holding cells and a whole range of interesting patterns, textures and shapes. 

Normally, details like this would lead my work. I love texture, pattern and detail like this. But when I visited the building, what really struck me – almost haunted me – were the Victorian mug shots of criminals, particularly those with their hands on their chests. I didn’t exactly choose them, they chose me.

Photograps used in the work are courtesy of Staffordshire Record Office. 

I have used the motif of hands to create a collection exploring the layers of history embedded within the building and within the lives of the women shown in the photographs. Several of the pieces take the form of miniature quilts which refer back to the domestic lives of these women and I am very much influenced by the types of clothing and fabrics they might have known during their life times. The muted colour palette I have chosen also links to the sepia-toned photographs as well as the structure of the building in wood, stone and lead.

I’m still working on the collection, but I have finished a couple of pieces. 

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 Background print is an image of Shire Hall, image by kind consent of the trustees of the William Salt Library

Additional photos of all the finished pieces can be found on Flickr

2 thoughts on “Commission for Shire Hall Gallery

  1. Wow, these pieces are stunning. I can see how those hands would grab you. The photos are so haunting and tragic. I wonder why they were photographed with their hands placed like that? There must have been some significance to it. I look forward to seeing how the commission ends up in it's entirety.

  2. Thanks Chrissie! I am pleased with how the work is going. I think the hands were photographed as distinguishing features — in case of missing fingers and the like. Haunting is just the right word.

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