The Saddest Sight of All

Saddest Sight
Saddest Sight
Saddest Sight

Installed at PM Gallery & House, London
2008
Antique mirror, mixed media

Last year my parents-in-law found a young, female woodpecker lying dead in an empty bedroom. It had pecked at it’s own reflection and at the wood veneer of the dressing table mirror, dying from exhaustion and hunger. Some years earlier a young woman had fallen from the roof terrace of the flat above ours, landing in front of our basement door. She died on impact.

The form of this piece is also a tribute to the Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter (1835 – 1918). Potter produced many taxidermy tableaux including the infamous “Kitten’s Wedding” and “Who Killed Cock Robin?” As a child my parents often took me to his museum, in Brighton, and then Arundel, East Sussex. His museum has had an enormous influence on me. It is one of my most powerful childhood memories. The museum was eventually bought by Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. In 2003 the entire contents of the museum were auctioned. I now own his two-headed lamb from 1887.

01 May 2008

The Perfect

Research project funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Royal College of Art Development Fund (RCA).

The Perfect
The Perfect
The Perfect
The Perfect
The Perfect
The Perfect

The Perfect – Alex, 2007
machine knitted wool and acrylic yarn 

580 × 920 mm

The Perfect – Eddie, 2007

machine knitted wool and acrylic yarn

450 × 240 mm


In the collection of Spring Studios, London

The Perfect – Billy
, 2007

machine knitted wool and acrylic yarn

450 × 240 mm
In the collection of Spring Studios, London

The Perfect – Tilak, 
2007

machine knitted wool and acrylic yarn

1400 × 1050 mm


The Perfect, 2007
machine knitted wool 

Dimensions variable 


Installed at KODE – kunstmuseene i Bergen, Norway

The Perfect Skins, 2007
machine knitted wool, metal rail
1800 × 800 × 100 mm

“It’s not perfect, but who cares?” Well I do. I enjoy imperfection in you and yours but not in me and mine. I am very attracted to the imperfections, failings, and roughness of the material world. I enjoy the evidence of human hands, the inevitable wear and repair of objects. I love the obviously hand-made. But I suffer from being a perfectionist.  

This body of work deals with the constant drive for perfection. It is made using technology that was developed to achieve perfection. Technology developed for mass production to make garment multiples that are exactly the same as each other: garments that do not require any hand finishing, garments whose manufacture does not produce any waste, garments whose production does not require the human touch. Garments that are, in fact, perfect.

I have produced my knitted multiples through the use of a Shima Seiki WholeGarment® machine (a computerised, automated, industrial V-bed flat machine, which is capable of knitting a three-dimensional seamless garment). These multiples take the form of life size, three-dimensional human bodies. I have combined them in a variety of different ways to create large-scale knitted sculptures and installations.
Perfectionism is associated with good craftsmanship, something to aspire to. I aim for perfection in all aspects of my life, my work and myself. It can be very debilitating and exhausting and it is of course, unachievable.

Photography: Damian Chapman, Douglas Atfield, Ben Coode-Adams

02 May 2007

Feel the Fear and Make it Anyway

Feel the Fear and Make it Anyway
Feel the Fear and Make it Anyway
Feel the Fear and Make it Anyway

2007
Machine knitted yarn, cellophane, buttons

1300 × 560 mm

Installation around pillar in Wintry, Lounge/Monika Bobinska, London
2 November – 9 December 2007


Exhibiting alongside: Su Blackwell, Debbie Booth, Andrew Hladky, Sophie Horton, Adam King, Gavin Maughfling, Lucinda Oestreicher, Laure Prouvost, Greg Rook, Kate Street and Gillian Wylde

01 May 2007

Partial View

Selection and curation of BANA (Bath Area Network for Artists) members’ work.

Widcome Studios Gallery,
24 October – 4 November 2006
Comfortable Place, Upper Bristol Road, Bath
www.bana-arts.co.uk

Partial View
Partial View
Partial View
Partial View
Partial View

Exhibitors were Anthony Clark, Alison Harper, Amy Houghton, Janine McLellan and Lawrie Quigley.

The work submitted for any open submission exhibition is always eclectic. Looking through the submissions is the opening of a Pandora’s Box. You get what you’re given, like it or not, and you have to make a coherent exhibition from it. There were many routes that I could have taken, simply selected my favourite pieces, selected works from just one medium, selected works by just one artist or looked for common themes within the work. I did find quite a few reoccurring themes. There were numerous images related to domesticity – portraits of passive women (many drinking cups of tea), empty domestic interiors and the transformation of domestic objects into art objects. The natural world was a common theme as was the colour yellow.

Unsurprisingly a lot of textile related pieces were submitted but sadly there was little ceramic or sculptural work. Some of the artists had submitted three exceptionally strong works and I could easily have had a solo or two-person show but I wanted to make the show broader and, dare I say it, stranger than that. In the end I decided that I would use the theme of domestic textile production and try to create a dialogue between works by different artists, using different mediums. So there you have it, an exhibition of 7 works (across a range of scales), by 5 artists (3 female and 2 male) at various stages of their artistic careers, in 4 mediums (animation, hand embroidery, hand knitting and painting). An idiosyncratic exhibition of strange and wonderful works that I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to select. It is always a privilege to see the work of other artists close at hand, especially when you are entrusted with decisions about it.

Several of the pieces I would like to own, one of them I will own and some frighten me so much that I am very glad not to own them. Which is which, is for you to decide. Rather perversely, I did not select my favourite piece. What that was, and who it was by, I will leave to your imagination.

(Essay by Freddie Robins from Partial View catalogue)

24 October 2006

Ceremony

Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London
17 August – 9 October 2005
http://pumphousegallery.org.uk

Curated by Freddie Robins and Sandra Ross

Ceremony
Ceremony
Ceremony
Ceremony
Ceremony
Ceremony

“ Ceremony was born out of a discussion about the relevance, application and value of craft skills in today’s society and the need to platform contemporary craft in visual arts venues, especially in London. An idea that we kept coming back to was the way that unique crafted objects play an integral role in the execution of traditional rites of passage, from the knitted christening shawl to the gold wedding ring and finally the floral funeral wreath. A period of research ensued and after contacting numerous artists, making many studio visits and having discussions with peers about this concept, we devised an exhibition that brought together an eclectic brew of works, performances and projects that explored the performative relationship between object and ritual. Many of the works and projects were especially commissioned for this exhibition and covered a diverse range of practices including cake decorating, metal work, film, knitting, live art, stone carving, quilting and floristry.

As well as exploring the rituals themselves, this exhibition provided a glimpse of the diverse range of craft practices and techniques used by contemporary practitioners. It gave exposure to under-valued skills such as cake decorating, floristry and knitting, and brought into question the traditional hierarchical domains of fine and applied art.”

(Text taken from the Foreward for Ceremony publication, written by Freddie Robins and Sandra Ross.)

Exhibitors were Barby Asante, Elizabeth Callinicos, Rachael Matthews (Cast Off), Tim Davies, Catherine Hawes, Rozanne Hawksley, Julie Henry, Serena Korda, Laura Potter, Freddie Robins , Chris Stewart, Hans Stofer, Shane Waltener and Welfare State International.

17 August 2005

It Sucks

It Sucks
It Sucks

2005
Hand knitted 2-ply Shetland Lace Yarn 

1000 × 1000 mm
Knitted by Audrey Yates
Commissioned by Pump House Gallery, London

Installation in Ceremony, Pump House Gallery, London 17 August – 9 October 2005. Shown alongside Serena Korda’s Love, Honour and Obey, 2004

My work often employs humour and text to communicate messages. I like to play on words to make visual suggestions. In this commissioned piece, “It Sucks”, I subvert the traditional hand knitted Shetland Lace christening shawl to communicate the very mixed feelings that I had upon the birth of my daughter and becoming a new mother.

Photography: Colin Guilemet

01 May 2005

Knit 2 Together: Concepts In Knitting

24 February – 15 May 2005

Crafts Council Gallery, London 

www.craftscouncil.org.uk

Touring to: City Gallery, Leicester, Knitting & Stitching Show (Alexandra Palace, London, RDS, Dublin and RDS, Dublin) Oriel Davies Gallery, Powys, Wales

Curated by Freddie Robins and Katy Bevan

Knit 2 Together: Concepts In Knitting
Knit 2 Together: Concepts In Knitting

Knit 2 Together: Concepts in Knitting is the first knitting exhibition by the Crafts Council since 1986. It takes a close look at contemporary knitting in art practice, especially work that pushes the perceived boundaries within the world of knitting. By focussing on the possibilities that the craft allows, and emphasizing technique, process, structure and material, Knit 2 Together takes an in-depth look at the individual stitch. Once previous associations are recognised and removed, knitting can be rehabilitated as a first class craft.

The exhibitors are representative of different strands in knitting today, from the self-taught art of Marie-Rose Lortet, to the highly technical digital imagery of Kelly Jenkins. The majority of the exhibitors are based in the UK, while the US, Canada, Japan and France are also represented.”

(Taken from the Crafts Council leaflet for Knit 2 Together: Concepts in Knitting, written by Katy Bevan)

Exhibitors were Andy Diaz Hope, Francoise Dupre, Kelly Jenkins, Ruth Lee, Marie-Rose Lortet, Rachael Matthews, Susie McMurray, Janet Morton, Celia Pym, Freddie Robins, Takehiko Sanada, Stephanie Speight, Jemma Sykes, Shane Waltener and Donna Wilson.

Photography: Ed Barber/Crafts Council

24 February 2005

Galerie sphn, Berlin, Germany - How to make a piece of work when you are too tired to make decisions

2004

Joint residency with Ben Coode-Adams

Galerie sphn, Berlin, Germany
Galerie sphn, Berlin, Germany
Galerie sphn, Berlin, Germany

Work in progress in studio

How to make a piece of work when you are too tired to make decisions
2004 machine knitted wool, dress pins
Dimensions variable

How to make a piece of work when you are too tired to make decisions (detail)

This piece of work was conceived of during the first few months of my daughter’s life when I was lying in bed, over tired but unable to sleep. I knew that when I did manage to make work again it would no longer be possible for me to approach it in the same way that I had before. My studio practice was built on continuity of time and thought, which was no longer available to me. My work is technically challenging and even during my pregnancy I had found it increasingly difficult to make the necessary decisions, let alone do the required mathematical equations. For sometime prior to this I had also been considering how I might go about making abstract pieces, up until this time all my work has been of a figurative nature. My work had also been increasing in scale and I wanted this to continue. With much less time available to me the only way that this was possible was to make smaller components which, when placed together, would form a large work.

This piece aimed to address all of the above. It took the decision making away from me and let it rest on the throw of a dice. It also enabled me to make pieces of work in very short periods of time where continuity of time or thought was not necessary. I could make work when I was tired or even give the dice and instructions to someone else and they could make it for me, no pattern necessary! Although in the past I have adopted a very controlled approach to my studio practice I have always loved serendipity. The idea of making something through chance held great appeal for me.

I used 3 dice, one to decide the colour of the yarns that I would use, one to give me numbers for stitches and rows (3, 4, 8, 12, 15 and 17) and the other to decide the actions: “knit”, “hook up side of knitting”, “turn knitting”, “make row of lace holes then knit”, “decrease 1 stitch fully-fashioned at the beginning of each row” and “increase 1 stitch fully-fashioned at the beginning of each row”. Each individual piece was made using 10 actions. The instructions, numbers dice and actions dice were modified after several experiments to give more consistently successful results. The finished piece is on going. The arrangement of individual pieces can be changed and it can be added to at anytime. The instructions and dice are open to modification should it become necessary or should I feel like it.

01 May 2004

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