Project 1: Selecting and Identifying 1.1 Definition of Textiles

Project 1: Selecting and Identifying – My Definition of Textiles

Textiles to me is a very broad discipline. It incorporates natural and man made fibres and materials. These textiles are created with a variety of approaches and processes including alternative surface treatments, digital and manual manipulation, hand processes, multi-media and printing.

Textiles have always appealed to me because they have texture – for example: smooth, rough, prickly, soft, hard. Textile artists are pushing the boundaries of what constitute a textile – for example: usual surfaces like stone, concrete, metal and wood and using nature like leaves and shells being stitched.

This means that traditional techniques may be used alongside new technologies and substances. So there is much scope for innovation and experimentation and on the other hand electing to undertake activity that develops a sustainable approach. I also think it is so important to value the contribution of traditional approaches to textiles as practiced by peoples of many countries around the world and the opportunity it provides us to take this work in different directions.

Textiles often have really interesting stories or narratives attached to them.

Some examples are a garment held in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney. The boy’s dress was worn by the two year old son of Australia’s “flogging parson” and colonial sheep farmer Samuel Marsden.
The boy fell into a boiling pot of water on August 14, 1803. He unfortunately died but his little red cotton dress survived. The dress was saved as a memorial to the boy. The dress is made of red unbleached cotton and printed with a white geometric pattern and was believed to be handmade by his mother.





The second example is held in the Smithsonian in USA and is the flag that inspired the National Anthem of the USA. In the summer of 1813 Mary Pickersgill was contracted to sew two flags for Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland. The one that became the Star-Spangled banner was a 30 by 42 foot garrison flag. The flag remained in private ownership for many years before being passed to the Smithsonian in 1912 .It has recently been carefully restored and is on exhibition.


Agnes Martin Exhibition, Tate Modern, London


I was fortunate to arrive in London just before the Agnes Martin Exhibiition closed at Tate Modern London last month. It was a brilliant experience to see so many pieces of her work together. Agnes’ work covered examples of her six decades of paintings and drawings. These works were varied, subtle and soothing. The work featured much of her systematic use of grids, symmetry and stripes but the subtlety of the work was entrancing. Agnes is considered one of the pre-eminent painters of abstract art of the twentieth century. Agnes was born in 1912 and lived in the United States she died in 2004. My favourite works were those made in the last few years of her life when she began to work less systematically, her brushwork was more freer and there was a little more colour added. These works reminded me in some ways of modern quiltmaking and I have noticed a number of USA quiltmakers have mentioned the influence Agnes has had on some pieces of their work. I could see that weavers also could be influenced.
The straight lines of work like “Gratitude” 2001, “I love the Whole World” 2000, “Untitled” 2002 are so inspirational. Similarly her triangle piece “untitled#1” 2003 and floating squares and bar in “Untitled”2004 were just amazing. These works were  152.4cm by 152.4cm so quite large works.

To see the photographs of her work I would refer you to the Tate publication”Agnes Martin” 2015, edited by Frances Morris and Tiffany Bell.  See photograph of cover and back page of book below.