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Drawing with Thread

By February 28, 2012

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I've been interested in textile art for some time - not in terms of country quilts and knitting (even though I do attempt to knit!) but rather the amazing potential of fiber as line. When a line is stitched, rather than drawn, it not only has a different visual and tactile quality, but also carries a set of associations - like a word in poetry bringing not only its explicit meaning, but also subtle inherent associations. Hanging threads can remind us of unfinished work and ragged edges. Embroidery floss reminds us of a grandmother's sewing box. Rope might have associations of the outdoors or the sea. And unlike graphite, the thread can travel through space - creating a truly three-dimensional 'drawing'. There's definitely some historical precedent for this work - Sol LeWitt so uppermost in my mind right now that he's leaving no room for anyone else. Other than Eva Hesse, though I still think of her as contemporary.

Hemali Bhuta, Stepping Down Even if contemporary art isn't your thing, you'll appreciate the intersection of traditional craftsmanship and representation with contemporary medium in the thread drawings of Debbie Smyth (see a YouTube video of Debbie at work.
You'll find a more edgy, theatrical experience in the work of Anne Wilson who explores industry, handcraft, process, network and meaning through fiber and performance.
Including some textile but pushing line into three dimensions with all sorts of mediums is Hemali Bhuta, who I think is a tremendously exciting young artist, doing really robust and interesting work. I'm also in love with the delicate webs of Ranjani Shettar. (UK readers can investigate some contemporary line at Lines of Thought at London's Parasol unit, until 13 May 2012.)

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