4 - 15 July 2017
Private View - Friday 7 July 6-9pm
Artists from varied creative practices, background, culture and countries coming together for this most expressive exhibition. Exploring the threads that connects us through our experiences, humanity, gender, friendship and relationship; across the division of country, culture, language, and religion. Sharing the rich tapestry woven from the myriad experiences of individual lives.
Laurence C. Parsley
Norma D. Hunter
Film by Lucy and Layla Swinhoe
Esperanza G. Carrera
Opening Night Gallery
Images in random format
Curated by Rilexie and Tomas Amare
This painting evolved through attempts to assimilate my family’s history. Most of my family perished during The Holocaust. My late mother, Erika, survived against the odds. Deeply scarred, not only by this episode of history, but by her difficult relationship with her mother she escaped Hungary, her motherland, in 1956.
At a time when women were not generally encouraged in many aspects of life outside the home, Erika become an independent, professional dental surgeon. Erika’s life was sadly overtaken by bowel cancer in 2007. I still miss her terribly.
Tapestry weaving for me is a wonderful art and helps me maintain a love of pattern, textiles, line and composition.
I work through the process of making which can be a bit messy, not square, and not neat but I am happy to break the rules as long as I get the kind of image I enjoy.
I find all artists are basically inspired by their childhood and affected by their upbringing. For me this was a rich experience as my parents brought us up with an Italian/ Scottish background. As a family we immigrated to New York for several years and we stayed for periods of time with grandparents in Italy.
We all age, its one of a few certainties in life. We can either choose to lose that spark of life, youth and exuberance when our flesh matures or nurture it with laughter and conviviality. This image is full of the symbolism of life and its ultimate outcome. A statement of fact that even though our outward facades may bear the scars of time, we can always choose to retain that irrepressible inner essence of youth.
We connect every day with each other in some way or another.. Some threads are friendships or shadows/reflections.
There are those also referred to as threads of kindness, or compassion, gratituity.
Your soul is your thread and you can visualise more in your shadow. You just need to alter your perception to see.
In this painting I am proposing new form or alternative ways of seeing shape and forms in nature, other than the instantly recognisable forms which we are trained to see through societal systems. This work references thoughts and ideas of gender variance and fluidity. It offers space for consideration of difference and the possibility of the unknown or the unfamiliar becoming real. In my work I am trying to push the boundaries of what we impulsively accept as recognisable, familiar and secure. The colours and forms inscribed on my canvases and boards are lasting forms and they have become new objects in the world. The conversation around tolerating and understanding new possibilities in our world, whether in painting or in the way we are recognised as individual unique human beings, is what inspires my work .
Threads to me signifies the fragile strands that keep us together. They control our anger, happiness, disappointments, frustrations.......... well being. This work is part of a body of work exploring my relationship with my "mental" self.
Young Albino Woman
When we are truly connected to ourselves and nature we are free. The flowers, the trees, the wildlife do not judge. Judgement is the outcome of the feeling of disconnection to who we really are.
"The way out is in". Thick Nhat Hanh
In Memory of Margaret Lyne MBE
Break of Day - Sculpture
A woman’s life, my life. has many early starts. There is a process of gathering together, tidying up, watching the light increase outside the window while I get organised to start the day.
The gleaming circle is my window on a world into which I must dare to go. The white curved strips are the state of my preparations, not yet tidy enough but they will be.
Quipucamayocs: are hanging staffs or varas that I have made to display the ropes knotted by participants on previous walks which I have organised to inform my practice. They are a further development of my work using quipus, a system for recording information widely used throughout the Inca Empire. For Threads Edinburgh I am leading a walk on July 7 at 2 pm in collaboration with invited artists from the Dundas St Gallery to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The walk is inspired by Cecilia Vicuña’s poem Hilo y Palabra which was written at Inverleith House in 1970.
For more about my walking practice please visit my website: http://www.elspeth-billie-penfold.com/
Human beings seek their way in the visible world; and, through the visible world, seek the invisible one along its spiritual path. I explored those two worlds trying to find ascension and questioning the paths of life that lead to possible changes in you and your conception of this.
Erika Morini’s Stradivarius story took me into a journey of love and inner identity.
In Bruegel’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, the barely visible figure of Icarus drowns while standers-by remain oblivious, preoccupied with their own tasks.
Women’s History Month reminds us about the cost of indifference. It reminds us about women who took action, women who got involved by rattling the cage of accepted social norms.
The Icarus Shock is a phrase borrowed from the essay ‘Still life and Feminine Space’ (Bryson, 1990). The flotsam and jetsam of collage, like my rural isolation, rarely offers a coherent narrative. This work cuts and pastes my often ambivalent relationship with home.
A hymn to tolerance in times of fear. IsayWe are better together, should agree to disagree, and love our differences as they are an essential source of evolution. IsayWe are all the same in the end, are all part of Nature and should respect it all - earth to air, what lives beneath, between and beyond.
As a woman, IsayWe all have the same rights, and none to judge anyone based on their sex, race, religion, sexuality, aspect and/or ideas: more than most, we should remember that, if we did, we would be no better than those men we still have to fight to prove we are not their pets, but their equal. It seems impossible, but to this day there is an outrageous number of women who are still battling for this basic, essential freedom. This piece is for you, Sisters. May justice prevail!!!
My work explores how we navigate the city through drawing on location, collaging and cutting, pasting and stitching images together. I feel that our senses are bombarded with sensations and imagery in the city. This embroidery maps the personal journey that I went on around the St James Park area in April 2014 when I was dealing with several strong emotions in my head at the time of drawing. The act of drawing and sewing seemed to provided me with some relief and meditation and led me to create this series of embroideries.
My mother would never let me paint her portrait. Too intrusive for such a private person. But she would let me study her hands knowing they told just as much about her life, perhaps more. Her fingers strong, toughened by years of nursing, now arthritic and calloused from gardening. Skin wearing thin after years of being out in all weathers ('a spot of rain never hurt anyone') yet not rough to touch ('there's some nice Yardleys hand cream by the sink'). I miss her, but I can hear her in my voice ('there's no such thing as wrong weather, only wrong clothes'), and, yes, in the little pot of hand cream I keep by the sink.
"Constant change' mixes weave and paint to represent women's experience throughout their lives, in relation to their bodies, families and work and the creative transformations with these spheres.The 'threads' in the painting are diverging and adapting in response to some the myriad of changes in everyday life.
The piece is an image of a woman as she ages. The work has been printed and hand painted onto Lycra ( a flexible and strong fabric). I use make up, hair dye and paint to create the image then stretch it across a wooden body or frame work. The work cracks, flakes and disintegrates as it stretches - like a human body as it ages, ephemeral yet beautiful.
'A Room of One's Own'
In searching for connections with other artists I revisited Virginia Woolf's text ‘A Room of One’s Own’. Whilst she explores the experience of female authors almost one hundred years ago, her thoughts are, perhaps unfortunately, still relevant to woman today practicing in any art form. Her discussion of the need to carve a space to create, separate from the domestic sphere, and the freedom of thought that money can buy, both resonate with my own contemporary concerns as I negotiate life as an artist, mother and educator.
In this piece I appropriate an abbreviated excerpt from Woolf’s text, “I must ask you to imagine a room, with a window…and on the table inside the room, a blank sheet of paper.” These words speak of the moment of calm, the beginning of the process of creating, and the space to do so. The piece itself is a stitched panel of white thread, recalling both a domestic, lace-like curtain and a page from a book.
As a painter, photographer and a mixed media artist she often creates textures, incorporating materials that relate to her own experiences. She often works with the human body and old family photographs which reflect her concerns with her own existence and her relation with the universe.
In her current work she uses photographs of five generation to explore the female collective pain accumulated over hundreds of years and their dormant condition that transcended for generations influenced by religious beliefs and social dogmas. This constant struggle has the power to transform the human conscience to bring us into an awakening and awareness of our true nature as women, our power and our own divinity.
"The iron chain and the silken cord are both equally bonds." Friedrich Schiller
Rather than just taking a snapshot, I am more interested in expressing ideas and capturing the unexpected.
I love to explore the magic of storytelling through one single frame and discover the extraordinary in something ordinary.
This painting dates back years before I started exhibiting my work. From an old cotton jumper I loved so much that it got worn out came this very spontaneous and raw family portrait. It talks about the transition period between the life of a young professional independent woman and the life of a newly-wed new mum who had stopped working and moved to London. In this transitional phase, a lot was to be enjoyed, a lot was to be adjusted to. Caring for the needs of a family made me feel sometimes over attached, over providing, over caring, emotionally over stretched and far away from myself. The thread between the trio is red like love, like my own blood from which this new and very much loved child was born, red like confusion anxiety and the violence of adjustment. In later life, embracing painting as a full time occupation helped me to build a sound and meaningful self-center, hence making the threads of life relationships more peaceful and balanced. Art - my palette, my brush strokes, my textured layers- as a language to be able to reach the Other, in all its faces and forms.
Elements of nature have often served as symbols for one or the other aspect of human life in many of my art series. In the ‘Life Cycle’, I have gone beyond the boundaries of human life to express the cycle of ‘life and decay’ in general. Male and female reproduction organs, as source of life, occupy the same status as the seed-containing tree and the Earth in this series of drawings and paintings. The process of the lifecycle, to me, is a never-ending thread of regenerating life in all living organisms, including of course – us!
Throughout the history of the human race and still today, only the female is able to gestate the baby and give birth. The pain the mother endures in childbirth has no comparison as it is supposed to be the most painful thing in the world. Yet is taken for granted and never quite acknowledged, even to the point that in many cultures the mother is denied basic treatment. Women are neglected, alienated and abandon to their plight when things go wrong and they become injured and disabled in the process of giving birth.
Maternity itself is a very delicate process which revolutionises not only the hormones in the body but also many many different feelings, fears, unaccessible memories that can cause anxiety. At this point is when support without patronising is most welcome, allowing the mother to undergo the bonding with her baby in an uninterrupted Reverie!
For ages, and in many civilizations, women have been fighting oppression, inequality and discrimination. Especially towards men.
Very sensitive to the continuous fight of Tibet against oppression, I represented this feeling with a "double dip" message: impersonification of oppression and discrimination through the eyes of a beautiful Tibetan woman - isolated, rejected, despised, abandoned to her loneliness by men turning their back at her. Enhancement of the differences and the discrimination through the contrasting colours used in the painting. A 'silent scream' of a woman to remind us of the many women unlucky enough to live freely today - International Women's Day, March 8th.
My work relates to Women's History month concerning the bad dream I had...The broken pieces refer to the fragmented achievements of women artists that have crashed through the History of Art...Female artists who were not to be ignored. The work of Sofonisba Anguissola 1532-1625,
Artemisia Gentileschi 1593-1656, Vigee Le Brun 1755- 1842, Vanessa Bell1879-1961, Frida Khalo 1907-1954. I rejoice in their work and am in awe of their existence...yet none of them are considered a place next to the old masters, ( highly skilled, trained artists)... This is where my dream becomes a nightmare...but it's only a dream.
Lucy & Layla Swinhoe
‘Now, you must remember the enemy has only images and illusions behind which he hides his true motives. Destroy the image, and you will break the enemy.’ Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon).
Art is about images, objects and words, but we’re highlighting how culture uses this trinity to propagate and perpetuate power. We’re also revealing the symbolism of a ‘degree’, and how this ties in with the ritualistic nature of hierarchical society. The film also projects the theories of art into the wider context of life.
I tell stories through painted narratives from everyday life with its emotions and behaviour, as they unfold in response to society, morals and social interactions. Stories which go beneath the surface, revealing personal perspectives.
“TRAPPED” represents the entrapment, isolation and immobility that various situations, and our life experiences leave with us.
Norma D. Hunter
We look at a picture of a tabby cat feeding her kittens and think ‘how sweet’ or even of a sow feeding her piglets. Yet the human female breast has become so sexualised that breastfeeding in public has almost become a criminal act. Resulting in our vulnerable babies being fed, at times, in the most unsanitary conditions, risking infection and illness. This is a damaged thread we need to repair.
‘Coeur’ is the base of the word ‘courage’, and I love that significance. Reminding me of our vulnerability in strength, our hearts at the core, and keeping them safe. Delicate and fragile layers, like memories and emotions, needing to be handled with care.
Stitching is a fine line, the thread sometimes breaking - trying to connect - running through it all. Just as we nourish our hearts, and the woven threads in our lives, this common fragile bond holds us together and connects us all.
The Struggle for Lost Memories:This work is from a series about the devastating effects of Alzheimer's. Our memories are an important part of who we are. As they disappear, so do we.
Through history, women only intermittently found the language to voice their desired autonomy, until the 20thC.
To demonstrate this history, I took inspiration from Gaudier Breska's "The Dancer" (1906).
I tripled his Dancer, harking back to Canova/Botticelli's mythical daughters of Zeus, The Three Graces.
These references narrate the transformation from a past, passive classical Sisterhood to the initiation of a feminist/modernist Sisterhood where, as shown, women are individual, unashamed of their bodies, stepping out in different directions, whilst remaining deeply connected by Form.
Towards A New Life was completed in springtime. I was consciously exploring dying and becoming as necessary steps in painting. The piece consists of a web of frayed and scraped back surfaces of blue-green, washed out green-golds and lemons which are energised by crimson and red violet structures, themselves supported by blue and transparent violet peripheral forms. The gentle peach brings inner radiance, preventing the collapse of these cool lifeless structures.
My work is arrived at through the layering of opaque and transparent colours, the repeated application and removal of material, creating richly complex passages in paint. I create paintings with presence.
'Torn but not Broken'
The history of women in my life, both past and present manifest great strength to rise above experiences that can easily tear the body, mind and spirit apart. Through times in life when it seems to fall apart, hanging on a string, the determination and spark of the human spirit continue to keep us from brokenness.
Sil’ver-Tongued’ - adj. persuasive, eloquent.
My silver tongue was a response to the sort of charm that is summed up by the term ‘silver-tongued’. I wondered if it might make the silver-tongued less persuasive if the silvering on their tongue took the form of a furry coating - with accompanying halitosis, and I wondered if I could convey this in stitch.
Grace explores natural architectural motifs while demonstrating a movement: of nature, of growth, of decomposition, of natural processes. The piece explores themes relating to my cultural heritage as a British, Indian, Muslim female. Through a highly personal sculptural language the work attempts to visually translate my own experiences: from architecture, landscape and nature to the communal engagements at meal times, prayer and the ritual of everyday life.
Threads of Life (2014)
An unknown and inscrutable life force –the faceless female spirit of the collective unconscious symbolized as an endless ocean- organises our threads of life and threads of thoughts, which surround us and shape our future just like framework of society does.
The fish symbolize human beings who strive towards light, seek enlightenment, struggle up the social ladder or just crave for a better life. Crossing each other’s path they move up towards the unknown, looking for paths through the labyrinth of threads and trying not to become prey.
Is there hope? Is there something worth fighting for? Does the path lead somewhere at all?
We have our protectors - a messager from God? a relative that has died? whatever your belief a feather from their wings, 'a calling card', is for many a much needed reassurance of their presence, that there is more than just this..... there is a thread of hope.
In the national economic history, female workers are frequently subjected to either heroism as being supportive or victimisation as being put forward in the frontline of labour movements. Within this instrumentalisation of female workers’ positions, their individual life experiences often become a missing thread. ‘Take-Off’ is a homage to young female seamstresses who used to be glorified as foot-soldiers of the national economic success in 1970s, Seoul Korea under the militant government. Subverting the meaning of camouflage by revealing its elements highly visible, it questions upon the lost balance between the system and individuality within continuously patriarchal economic history.
This series is based on my mother’s diaries from the II World War. The writing in these pieces is an exact copy of her original handwritten pages in Polish.
Only two small exercise books remain from 1944, written when she was sent to a work camp in Ebenfurt, Austria.
In the page of her diary that’s shown in ‘Glass Memories’ and ‘Bittersweet Memories’ she writes about the very difficult conditions in the camp, how it’s been raining for weeks, making the fields full of mud and how the sugar beets that she had to harvest were rotting, whilst the bombs of the allies keep falling onto the town nearby. In the diaries she wonders if my father is still alive and learns about the death of her father.