Laura Gascoigne: Tangled Web – September 2017

“Why is there so much sewing?” demanded The Art Newspaper’s Christina Ruiz after visiting Christine Macel’s exhibition at this year’s Venice Biennale. “I get google_ad_slot = "6023194682"; it: domestic work, women’s work, is important and undervalued. But is it in itself art? No it is not.”

There was a time when so-called textile google_ad_client = "ca-pub-3967079123942817"; arts

Science weekend to create an entire Solar System Art Installation from ‘various fibre arts’. True, the
results looked a bit of a mess, but sew what?
Fibre arts have

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therapeutic benefits. According to the /* xin2 */ organisers of the Crafts Council’s ‘cinema knit-along events’ in 2012, “knitting has been proven to

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enhance cognitive development in children, //--> and well-being in both children and adults.” Sew there.

It’s not all child’s play: serious issues can be addressed with needles. ‘Political statement knits’ by Lisa Anne Auerbach were a highlight of Wasteland, an exhibition of young Los Angelino artists at the Mona Bismarck American Centre in Paris last year. More ambitiously, at the Minories Gallery, Colchester in 2015 Clare

Sams’s installation Knitting Fever recreated the /* xin-1 */ devastation caused by the google_ad_width = 970; 2009 floods when a wool shop of that name in Cockermouth spilled its guts through the Cumbrian town. The gallery complimented the artist on using a process “stereotypically viewed as a feminine past-time [sic]” to represent “cataclysmic forces

curator Christine Macel in The Art Newspaper
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on doing “a really good job in challenging some of the gender stereotypes around textiles,”

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singling out male artist David Medalla for praise for his participatory work A Stitch in Time, first shown in 1968. Medalla’s

of samplers embroidered by tattooed inmates of

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Wandsworth Prison. Since then the social enterprise Fine Cell Work has climbed on the prison wagon and trained 300 prisoners in 20 gaols to spend their lock-up google_ad_height = 90; time productively embroidering cushion covers.
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There’s precious little bunce in it for the lags, but more job satisfaction than stitching mailbags.

style="font-weight: 400;">It’s no discovery that men are nimble-fingered (not a lot of people know this, but the google_ad_slot = "7160667483"; young Malevich upset his father with his unhealthy aptitude for Ukrainian cross-stitch). The danger for women of challenging gender stereotypes

around textiles is that male artists will seize the initiative. Not content with getting tapestries woven to their designs, brothers are doing /* 9-970x90 */ it for themselves. In Art Now at Tate Britain in 2010 Andy Holden showed The Pyramid Piece, a 10ft-high knitted replica of a chip off the
Great //--> Pyramid of Cheops that he had illegally smuggled home from a family holiday to Egypt at the age of 12. Along with its benefits for cognitive development, knitting
is obviously a good way of
assuaging guilt.

style="font-weight: 400;">The main drawback of needlework, for unreconstructed individualists, is its inflexibility

as

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a means of expression, which is why most attempts
to src="//pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.js"> employ it as one, Tracey Emin’s included, have been sew-so. The notable exception is Mr and Mrs Pope, Knitted,
Shrunk and Hung (2012), a truly heart-wringing piece of work that – sorry girls! – was created by //--> a male sculptor, Nicholas Pope, with his own fair hands.

Laura Gascoigne
The Jackdaw Sept/Oct 2017