A new exhibition by an award-winning Goldsmiths, University of London graduate explores the experiences of black women through artwork woven from hair.
Knotted, by Farrah Riley Gray, is hosted by the Goldsmiths Textile Collection and Constance Howard Gallery, and runs at Deptford Town Hall, New Cross Road, from 30 September – 4 November 2019.
The exhibition includes works such as I Exist as Cocoa Butter and Mangos, which consists of a blanket constructed from hand woven squares of synthetic hair made by the artist on a small portable loom, and I Dream in Shea Butter and Blue Magic, a spoken-word sound installation drawing on Riley-Gray’s own daily experiences which visitors listen to as they view the textiles.
Riley Gray's artwork, which incorporates textiles, poetry and audio, is about misogynoir – a contempt or bias directed against black women where both race and gender are a factor. She also explores the rituals behind textiles and weaving and examines how, by being associated with ‘women’s work’ weaving has become a way to document women’s histories, in particular those of black women, whose stories are often erased.
Riley Gray completed her BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 2019, and was selected as winner of the Christine Risley Award 2019 for artists with outstanding work related to textiles. The judging panel praised her combination of aesthetics and politics in a carefully considered and expertly executed combination of textiles and sound work.
Both Riley Gray’s 2019 degree show pieces will be included in Knotted, alongside several new pieces which continue this work, exploring the archiving of black women's stories through hair.
Artist, writer and designer Dr Christine Checinska, a judge for the Christine Risley Award, said: “The textures, the techniques in crafting black hair, the subtle differences in colour from jet black to mahogany brown was a quiet statement in the ‘good hair/bad hair’ conundrum rooted in enslavement that black women are forced to navigate at an inner level before finding themselves.”
The Constance Howard Gallery can be found in the Deptford Town Hall lower-ground floor.
Entry is free and available Mon-Fri 11am – 5pm
Late opening: Friday 25 October, 6-9pm
Weekend opening: Saturday 26 October, 11am-7pm