Material Contemplations in Cloth and Hair
2 May 2018 - 25 May 2018
Curated by Janis Jefferies and Emma Tarlo. In the Constance Howard Gallery - Deptford Town Hall, basement. All welcome, free entry.
A preoccupation with hidden labour links the work of Janis Jefferies and Emma Tarlo. Taking us backstage to cloth factories in China and hair workshops in India and Myanmar, they draw attention to working landscapes in which materials, fibres and machines take on haunting proportions. Their photographs invite us to recognise connections that are often obscured between the lives of workers in Asia and the material products that end up in our high-streets and homes.
Janis Jefferies presents the photographic series, Weaving and We (2013), depicting workers at textile factories in and around Hangzhou. The photographs give a partial glimpse into the world behind the machinery, revealing scenes of the process of workers’ labour. We are accustomed to seeing the goods they produce all around us, but rarely do we see them - the makers. Jefferies experiments with techniques of ‘estrangement’ to render the photographic image more affective/ effective than the documentary images we are accustomed to.
Emma Tarlo’s series, Combings – how many heads? how many hairs? how many hands? (2018), reveals the hidden topography of labour that lies concealed within a single packet of hair extensions purchased in a shop in Finsbury Park, North London. Hair is something we think we know. Growing spontaneously from our heads, demanding attention throughout our lives, it is intrinsically bound up with identity and belonging. But it is also a commodity in a billion dollar global market for wigs and extensions. Tarlo’s photographs capture hair in limbo after it has become disconnected from heads across Asia but before it becomes attached to new heads in Europe, Africa or the United States. They confront us with hair in all its rawness and invite us to contemplate both the ingenuity and the cruelty of global connection.
Janis Jefferies is an artist, writer and curator, Professor of Visual Arts and Research, and Research Fellow at the Constance Howard Gallery, which she founded. She is a pioneer in the field of contemporary textiles within visual and material culture on the international stage, and has exhibited and published widely.
Emma Tarlo is a Professor of Anthropology at Goldsmiths and author of the book, Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair, winner of the 2017 Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing. The photographs were taken during three years of research on hair supported by the Leverhulme Trust.
Anne Morrell – Chasing Tensions
19 January 2018
Talking Textiles (5-6pm)
Opening Reception (6-8pm)
24 January – 16 March 2018
After 50 years away from Goldsmiths, textile artist and scholar Anne Morrell returns to the Constance Howard Gallery to present her work in a significant exhibition, “Anne Morrell – Chasing Tensions”. This exhibition presents a body of new and recent textile work, emerging from a lifelong pursuit of an understanding of stitch and textile. Anne’s artistic practice is characterised by an ongoing interest in chasing tensions and changing states – in processes or materials that are constantly shifting and moving. The way Anne manipulates the cloth is inspired by the collision of various influences around her – from the undulating surface of the pond in her backyard, to drifting clouds and airplane trails in the sky, to the way the light changes in different environments, from harsh contrasts to diffused softness. In a quiet intimacy with nature and her environment, she utilises stitch in order to express her ideas and observations. The particular type of mark-making that Anne enlists is a product of her extensive knowledge and research across Indian textiles and British embroidery – her work reflects a drive to arrive at an elaboration or expression of ‘stitch’ that defies categorisation, and in doing so taking apart preconceptions of hand stitch within specific cultural or institutional contexts. At the same time, “Chasing Tensions” also seeks to draw connections with Anne’s scholarship on Indian embroidery, as a way to reflect on Anne’s work which inevitably influenced her methods and artistic practice.
Exhibition curator: Yun Teng Seet
Anne Morrell, born Anne Butler in Chennai (Madras) India, is an artist and scholar on Indian textiles. She has written extensively on Indian embroideries for the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad, India and has developed a thoughtful art practice investigating stitch as mark and language. She has exhibited her work worldwide and her work can be found in public and private collections in the UK, Poland, USA, Australia and others. She taught in Goldsmiths College from 1965 – 1968 as a full-time lecturer, leaving in 1968 to teach at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). Anne returns to Goldsmiths after 50 years to present her textile work, and to reflect on her lifelong work and passion.
Clémentine Marie Jeanne Durand-Bedos - the Christine Risley Award winner 2017
29th September - 8th December 2017
Wed-Fri 11.00 - 17.00
Opening reception 28th September 16.00 - 20.00
The Goldsmiths Textile Collection and Constance Howard Gallery hosted an exhibition of works by the winner of the Christine Risley Award 2017, Clémentine Marie Jeanne Durand-Bedos.
The award was made in recognition of the strength of her performance work Contagious Hystories, performed during the BA (Hons) Fine Art Degree Show. An associated film will be on exhibit at the Constance Gallery, along with photographic documentation by the audience and garments hand-made by the artist.
Contagious Hystories, sensitively dealt with ideas around the divided self, drawing upon the relationship between textile and the body to physically and spatially describe the emergence of two separate identities from a whole through the duration of a 1.5 hour performance. Utilising digital, and screen printing in combination with cyanotype processes, the hand-made garments, which draw on personal, family and cultural histories, embody this metamorphosis.
The performance was held in an autonomous temporary structure on ‘disused’ land in New Cross, from which travellers were recently evicted. Asking the audience to climb over a wall into this confined space, required them to enact the experience of displacement whilst creating a sense of inclusion through the intimacy of the shared experience.
Parachute Files: Records from an Inner Journey
28th April - 14th July 2017
Opening reception 28th April 5pm-8pm
The Parachute Files consists of a body of work, produced over a period of nine years, which constitutes an attempt to analyse and integrate inner aspects of personality. It is also an exploration around the role of the creative process in bringing the unconscious workings of the mind into the conscious.
The material on which the work is based emerged during a long period of psychotherapy on trauma issues, during which the artist had a significant dream which revealed to her four personas representing clearly defined parts of her personality. It became possible for the therapist to communicate with the personas, and later for the artist to continue the process by means of written interviews and dialogues. Discussions among the personas followed, which led to a process of integration within the psyche as they slowly became co-operative. Narrative developed through a process of conscious dreaming into an adventure that started with a woman jumping out of an aircraft without a parachute, continuing by way of a jungle rescue and ending with a pow-wow on a beach and an invitation to join a pirate crew. The narrative is concerned with a battle of the personas to free themselves from the influence of the 'Authorities', who represent repressive and critical forces within the psyche. The story developed with reference to imagery reminiscent of influential books and films absorbed by the artist as a child.
The Parachute Files includes documents resembling reports from the authorities, texts presented as if they were the transcripts of interviews and documents from a file and a map, suggestive of a route diagram or battle plan showing the movements of the narrative. Central to the exhibition is a series of hand sewn textile panels, inspired by representations in cartoons of 'Home Sweet Home' signs and informed by research into samplers, hangings and banners at the Goldsmiths Textile Collection. Each panel announces the name of an inner persona. In making the textile panels, each persona was encouraged to become as fully present as possible and to engage in the choice of materials and style of the piece. The repetitive action of stitching is considered to be both therapeutic in itself and also to encourage a descent towards a meditative state into which each persona could fully manifest. They were literally stitched into being. The making of each piece became both an exploration of the persona and a portal for its emergence.
Louise Madsen: an exhibition of current works by the Christine Risley Award winner for 2016
Goldsmiths Textile Collection will host an exhibition of current works from the 2016 winner of the Christine Risley Award and BA (Hons) Fine Art graduate, Louise Madsen.
In the words of guest judge, Jennifer Harris (Deputy Director, the Whitworth, Manchester), 'her sculptural pieces demonstrate a profound material sensibility that aligns them with the kind of work that is being produced as part of the “material turn” that so much international art has taken in recent years’.
On display at the Constance Howard Gallery will be a collection of experimental pieces that demonstrate Madsen's investigative approach to how we encounter objects. Working with materials that shift, melt, cut, harden, spread and absorb, Madsen explores surfaces of internal and external change. Her seductive combinations of often disparate materials subvert their own haptic qualities in a way that is at once alluring, destabalising and uncanny.
‘It is most often the materials’ qualities of being too familiar giving way to the them becoming increasingly odd or even alien as I focus on them, that attracts, puzzles and provides me with a nervous energy’ (Louise Madsen).
With an approach to making and materiality that is both embedded in the tactile whilst resisting any tendency to be ‘pinned down’, Madsen is developing a rich language which resonates with a long history of material expression and what Jennifer Harris refers to as ‘the productive indeterminacy of contemporary art textiles’.
The Christine Risley Award is an annual cash prize awarded by the Goldsmiths Textile Collection & the Constance Howard Gallery to a graduating Goldsmiths BA student for outstanding work relating to textiles, in memory of Christine Risley.
Running from 28th September 2016 to 4th November 2016
Private view on Friday 30th September 5-8pm
See the Goldsmiths calendar event for more information.
“other women’s work”: The Construction
Goldsmiths design student Eve Nightingale presents “other women’s work”.
Thursday 2 June, 11am – 1pm
Constance Howard Gallery
Over three days, Eve will be resident at the Constance Howard Gallery to construct a ‘fur’ coat out of household dust, reimagining dust as material and appropriating needle-felting as the method with which to transform it. Much of the dust has been collected by domestic worker Tracy, from the houses she cleans. In Eve’s words, “It’s still women’s work. It is not every woman’s work.”
There will also be a selection of felt works from the Goldsmiths Textile Collection on display.
Eve’s finished piece will be on view at the BA Design Degree show Known Unknowns at The Truman Brewery, 18-20th of June: http://www.gold.ac.uk/degree-shows/design/
See the Goldsmiths calendar event for more information.
MA Fashion - Work in Progress Exhibition
The Constance Howard Gallery and Goldsmiths MA Fashion are pleased to invite you to the opening of Fashion Narratives featuring current studio practices that explore the social and cultural contexts of fashion. Each project looks at the virtual, material and embodied modes of communication in fashion and the shifting relationships between these. The material and theoretical inquiries on display propose new narratives and methods for fashion practice that challenge the traditional boundaries and perceptions of fashion.
17 March – 14 April 2016
Opening: 16 March, 5 – 7pm
Postgraduate Open Evening: 6 April, 4 – 7pm - Q&A with current MA Fashion students
Constance Howard Gallery
Deptford Town Hall Building
New Cross Road, London SE14 6AF
Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 11am-5pm
MA Fashion is a unique programme in which students explore fashion in context and in turn its far reaching social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts, through both theory and practice. It enables students to combine research, debate and ethics with making to cultivate new and inclusive ways of thinking, doing and being fashion.
MA Fashion would like to thank Lizzie Cannon, Jenny Doussan, Jack Mulvaney and Lesley Ruthven for their kind support.
A Remedy for Rents
19 January - 10 March 2016
Darning Samplers and Other Needlework from the Whitelands College Collection
Curated by Vivienne Richmond
A Remedy for Rents showcases a rare collection of exceptionally fine needlework by working-class women in the last quarter of the 19th century. As students at Whitelands College, the first all-female teacher training college, now part of the University of Roehampton, the women were training to teach in elementary schools for working-class children and their needlework focused on the production and repair of simple garments and household textiles. Yet such everyday purpose belies the creativity and skill displayed in their work and the exhibition takes its title from a quotation by John Ruskin, a patron of the College, who marvelled that ‘work of so utilitarian character’ could be so beautiful.
The centrepiece of the exhibits, all from the Whitelands College archive, is an album compiled by Kate Stanley, Head Governess from 1876-1902, containing 26 darning and 17 plain needlework samplers worked by students, the stitching on which is extraordinarily fine. In addition, a number of loose samplers are displayed together with a variety of small-scale practice garments, also of a high standard, made as an economical and time-saving way to learn techniques.
Whitelands College students went on to teach at schools and training colleges across the British Empire and so the ideologies, techniques and style of garments they learned at Whitelands entered the minds and homes of millions of poor and working-class girls. The exhibition, therefore, not only offers a rare opportunity to see needlework by non-elite Victorian women, but illuminates also the history of working-class dress, female education and gendered roles, experiences and expectations in 19th-century Britain and beyond.
19 January - 10 March 2016
Location: Basement, Deptford Town Hall Building. Constance Howard Gallery.
A Remedy for Rents leaflet (PDF download)
Thinking Threads - MA Fashion Exhibition 2015
19 March – 7th May 2015
Thinking Threads, presented by The Constance Howard Gallery and the Goldsmiths MA Fashion programme, featured new student works alongside archival pieces from the Goldsmiths Textiles Collection.
Using objects from the collection as a jumping off point, the pieces in Thinking Threads illustrated the diverse and far-reaching research processes and outcomes achieved. Each project critiqued, deconstructed and challenged the intersecting paradigms of fashion, identity, sustainability and materiality. The material and theoretical inquiries conducted through the works on display unfolded into a multitude of different media, including garments, textiles, printed matter, photography, and moving images: embodying physical threads, digital threads and threads on our backs. Viewers were invited to tease out the social, cultural and material threads running throughout this visually rich and engaging exhibition.
MA Fashion is a unique programme which explores the social and cultural context of fashion through both theory and practice. It enables students to combine research, debate and ethics with making to cultivate new and inclusive ways of thinking, doing and being fashion. Through collaboration and experimentation students develop critical perspectives on the prevailing fashion system and an understanding of how to activate this knowledge in various professions across the creative industries.
Sophia Freeman - The Christine Risley Award Winner 2014
21 October - 16 December, Tues - Thurs 11-5
The Christine Risley Award is a cash prize awarded by the Goldsmiths Textile Collection & Constance Howard Gallery to a graduating Goldsmiths student for outstanding work relating to textiles, in memory of Christine Risley.
This year’s Christine Risley Award has been awarded to BA (Hons) Fine Art and History of Art graduate Sophia Freeman. The judging panel agreed that her works demonstrate a sensual engagement with materials in a way which considers a tactile relationship between object and viewer.
Detail of ‘Untitled (2014)’, Sophia Freeman
Dealing with subtle transitions and shifts in materiality, Sophia Freeman likens her sculptural pieces to an image in the opening scenes of Claire Denis' film ‘Trouble Every Day’, where the surface of the river Seine temporarily engulfs the screen.
‘As Saige Walton (2013) argues, during this brief moment the water is presented to us "as if it were a moving textile". She notes that as the dissolves continue, the image retreats, revealing bridges and street lighting - thus locating the restless screen of fabric horizontally, the material texture implied by fabric subtly shifts to the substance of water’. Sophia Freeman (2014).
In the same way that Dennis creates slippages between perceived image and actual substance, Sophia uses the process of casting to subvert the material identity of her sculptures. Latex is used as a skin within which to create plaster objects. These are then re-cast. Through a process of twisting and manipulating the mould, the backs of the original plaster pieces are revealed, allowing the soft folds of the front of the sculptures to take on a dynamic fluidity which gravity originally defied. The treatment of the surfaces with car paint further obscures the material of their origin. ‘…the outward appearance is in subtle discord with its brittle physical matter. I indented the 'twist' to create an allusion to lightness - as if the sculpture had been delicately posed - again, in dissonance with its materiality’ Sophia Freeman (2014).
The works may evoke visions of dirty mattresses, discarded sleeping bags or contorted bed linen, yet they remain autonomous in their identity. ‘Perhaps its because of their "lack" - or failure as definitively recognizable object-world things, that the works invite, as Laura Marks (2010) writes a "haptic visuality" - a kind of “viewing which draws on other forms of sense experience (..) thus (being) a ‘tactile’ way of seeing and knowing which more directly involves the viewers body.”’
Sophia Freeman (2014)
Forging folklore, disrupting archives
15 May – 15 July 2014
As part of the Goldsmiths Graduate Festival, Constance Howard Gallery hosted a unique exhibition of the Goldsmiths Textile Collection and the Lloyd Collection of east European materials. This collaborative project brought together anthropologists and artists to turn the gallery into a lab for experimenting with ‘folklore’. We joined forces in rethinking the archive as an open resource and a site of contestation. The value embedded in folk objects was questioned as we experimented with textures and patterns.
You can follow three paths inside the space of the gallery. One uses details from the archive, in the form of photographs, inviting the possibility of re-assembling the archive. A separate project brings into the gallery objects that sit in tension with the space of the archive. A third perspective uses the folk pattern as a springboard for innovation and forgery.
We invited everyone interested in material culture, folklore, music, Eastern Europe, fabrics or archives to visit the gallery, attend the events and make playful connections between the threads.
"Small Talk" The 62 Group of Textile Artists
June 4th – July 25th 2013
The 62 Group is an artist led organization that aims to challenge the boundaries of textile practice. Since its establishment in 1962 some of the most highly regarded British textile artists have been members of the 62 Group. The membership is now international and is achieved through selection.
The 62 Group has a strong link with Goldsmiths as many of the exhibiting members were past students and indeed teachers. “Small Talk”, as the title suggests, brings together new small-scale work in a range of mediums in response to the gallery space.
For more information about the 62 Group and its members visit: http://www.62group.org.uk/