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ARTICLE ARCHIVE


September/October 2004

Through the Surface

In this recent project sponsored by the Surrey Institute of Art & Design in Britain, seven pairs of textile artists worked together for three months, sharing cultures, ideas, and techniques. In an article in our September/October issue, Oliver Lowenstein describes the background and parameters of the project, which was directed by Surrey Institute fellow Lesley Millar. Established artists were paired with emerging artists; one of each pair of collaborators was British, the other Japanese. Each artist produced a work, and in some cases the artists collaborated on a joint piece.

Oliver visited the exhibition (which is now traveling in Britain and will head to Japan in 2005); he comments here on each of the individual collaborations. You'll also find here some additional pictures not included in our print edition. The established artist is listed first.

 
Jeanette Appleton and Naoko Yoshimoto

Jeanette Appleton's expansive Land line: Double-edged encounters immediately draws the eye, stretching out a full forty feet or so, its felt tapestry recording a journey through the Yorkshire landscape in a kaleidoscope of greens. Appleton's work is the most recognizably textural of the British contributors, while the young Japanese textile artist Naoko Yoshimoto brings a tender delicacy to her garment pieces. Together the pair elaborated their own voices by mixing vivid color fields in the folded merino wool with small-scale fiber nests.

Jeanette Appleton, Land line: Double-edged encounters, 2003; wool, various fibers and fabric; transfer printing, needle-punch felting; 93' x 2' x 1'.
Naoko Yoshimoto, Memory miles in my hand, 2003; cotton; 1' 6" x 1' 6" x 8". Yoshimoto gathered secondhand garments from the towns she visited in England, then deconstructed—unraveled—them.
 
Junichi Arai and Tim Parry-Williams

The aura of new materials hovers over the work of Junichi Arai and Tim Parry-Williams. In his essay contribution to the exhibition's catalog, Arai writes of being among the first, if not the first, to fuse stainless-steel yarn with macrogauze weaving technique. In his contribution to Through the Surface--Glacier and Reflection--Arai is restrained to integrating aluminum and polyester with wool, resulting in an industrially processed cloth of gleaming mountainous micro-worlds. Parry-Williams gives the impression of being in awe of working with a textile master-elder; he applies some of the techniques he learned while in Japan, and contributes a similarly postindustrial icy-white patina to his handloom-worked shawl.

Junichi Arai introduced weaver Tim Parry-Williams to synthetic yarns and industrial dyeing and finishing processes. Shown are detail images from Arai's piece Glacier (wool, polyester, and aluminum) and Parry-Williams's Frost (polyester-wrapped slit-film silver/polyester).
 
Maxine Bristow and Kyoko Nitta

Kyoko Nitta's Pockets is composed of a hanging forest of translucent white jeans, linked by dangling and knotted organdy cords that disappear from one pocket only to re-emerge wormhole-like in another. Maxine Bristow brings an eighties theoretical, emphatically abstracted perspective to the exhibition's sculptural qualities, turning stitching into conceptual art. Bristow's interventions highlight the boundaries of a series of light switches, ventilation grills, and conduits in understated and semi-invisible forms of textural minimalism.

Kyoko Nitta, Pockets (detail of installation), 2003; organdy,
approx. 6' 6" x 8' 6" x 16' 6".
Maxine Bristow, Conduit ref:203/18 (detail of installation), 2003; wool, cotton, and plastic; needlepoint.
 
Frances Geesin and Kaori Hosozawa

"It is my passion to seek out industrial fabrics and test their potential as a visual language," says Frances Geesin, one of the elder generation of mentors to the exhibition project. The work by Geesin and her youthful project partner, Kaori Hosozawa, shows how working with electroplated metal and nonwoven fiber artifacts can create tangibly exciting biomorphic and nonspecific organic works. Although some of the smallest of the textile-derived sculptures, they are reminiscent of the wildest virtual buildings CAD/CAM-equipped complexity architects have dreamed up. Yet these organic forms, Geesin's rust metal sea drifts and Hosozawa's delicate larvae, are the results of full-bodied processes, as is the richly lush delicacy of their collaborative piece, a metal-bound bookwork.

Frances Geesin, Shibori (detail), 2003; silver knitted shielding fabric manipulated and electroplated with zinc, 4' 6" x 2' 3".
Kaori Hosozawa, Metamorphosis, 2003; nonwoven fabric, urushi, black thread;
13.75" x 4" x 6.25".
Francis Geesin and Kaori Hosozawa, Books, 2003; carbon nonwoven knitted nylon fabric, electroplated copper and zinc; 6.25" x 4".
 
Michiko Kawarabayashi and Ealish Wilson

Michiko Kawarabayashi's use of clear white hemp cloth--kaya--and traditional red and white string--mizuhiki--is put to dramatic effect in her long floor-hugging piece, Germination. The kaya, one-time mosquito netting, provides a soft, layered bed of hemp waves, along whose crests are pockets of red forest-like growth. The piece's horizontality gives it both theatricality and finely sculptural presence. Could one lie down on it as an actual bed, lost in the endless textural sea of hemp? Emerging artist Ealish Wilson, the sole Scot on the exchange, has created a digitally montaged quilt, in which her photographs of Kyoto are fashioned into a kaleidoscope-colored lattice of diamond boxes, laced together with mizuhiki.

Michiko Kawarayabashi, Germination, 2003; kaya and mizuhiki;
6' 6" x 9' 10" x maximum of eight sections, each 4".
Ealish Wilson, Streets, signs and temples, kimono (detail), 2003; cotton and mizuhiki; 3' 3" x 9' 10".
 
Teruyoshi Yoshida and Claire Barber

In an exhibition distinguished by the number of women practitioners (eleven out of fourteen), Teruyoshi Yoshida stands out as one of the two male Japanese mentors, and, interestingly, his pieces feel immediately more male. Tactile Dimension evokes two kites or ritual shields hanging aloft, careful black calligraphic stripes impregnated into the fabric, the red bamboo structural element sending an inference of battle or armies into the ether, reinforced by the underside's display of further hanging cotton strips. Claire Barber's semi-conceptual, semi-found art is a beautiful paean to the miniature detail of what can be done with otherwise dumped, decaying, disappearing materials. Using the luster of the rust-like landscapes of reclaimed bath insulation, she has populated these with a thousand pins, creating beauty in the detail to be rediscovered within the cracks and nooks of the everyday.

Teruyosi Yoshida, Tactile dimension: Ichijo (detail of installation), 2003; cotton, bamboo, and lacquer; 4' x 4'.
Claire Barber, Effervescent trail (detail of installation), 2003; reclaimed bath insulation foam and dressmaker's pins; 3' 4" x 19' 8".
 
Machiko Agano and Anniken Amundsen

Machiko Agano is the only artist who is represented in both Through the Surface and its predecessor, Textural Space. At Brighton in 2001, her untitled space-specific work filled the entire gallery space--a wispy, flowing, and organic web-like creation. Agano again provides a wispy, ethereal sculpture, again untitled, and again reminiscent of curling clouds of smoke captured in aspic, best when carefully lit, and all created from fishing yarn and paper wire, although here limited to one bay of the exhibition. Her partner is British-based, but Norwegian-born, Anniken Amundsen, who has made a remarkable biomorphic form. Also from fishing line, Transition is as sculptural in quality as the other work, at once appealing and disconcerting, its jelly-like sea creatureliness crossing an invisible spectrum to the growths and forms of viruses and diseases--which is where Amundsen began from, by using her textile sculptures as a locus for experiencing and recovering from the trauma of lymph cancer.

Machiko Agano, Untitled, 2003; fishing line and paper yarn; 6' 7" x 6' 7" x 6' 7".
Anniken Amundsen, Transition (detail of installation), 2003; fishing line;
29' 6" x 9' 2".
 

Oliver Lowenstein is editor of the green cultural review, arts, architecture, new media, and design magazine Fourth Door Review. The forthcoming issue features an article by Through the Surface's curator, Lesley Millar, and interviews with artists Machiko Agano and Anniken Amundsen. For more information, see www.fourthdoor.co.uk.

The interview with Amundsen will be posted on www.unstructured.co.uk this fall.




This review first appeared in:

Sept/Oct 2004


 

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