Similar Threads is the name of a very small showcase exhibition in a shop foyer which I came across recently whilst on holiday in North Wales. Held at the wonderfully stylish Mostyn Gallery in Llandudno, it’s on until the 1st September, so catch it if you’re anywhere near. What really caught my attention was this striking image of a car door, adorned with embroidered flowers – so utterly beguiling that it took my breath away. As a OCA textile tutor, I talk about contrast within work all the time and here is probably one of the very best examples you could see.
Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene is a Lithuanian textile artist who embroiders typical Lithuanian folk type flowers onto unlikely found objects, which would otherwise be discarded. She had to learn to drill clean and precise holes through the metal first – which is real dedication to her art. The traditional flower motifs transform the door into something new and valued as well as imparting a feminine counterbalance to the work. I love the way the softness of the quite chunky wool yarns contrasts against the hard metallic, male starkness of the abandoned car door – imparting a new softness, a sense of intimacy even.
This got me thinking further about contrast and why it’s so important in our work. Visually the eye likes to register patterns, it looks for similarities, either of colour or other formal qualities and then needs opposing elements as well, whether these are provided by a strong change in materials or just an open space for the eye to rest, or preferably both. Have a look at this work by one of my students Linda Beadle, who has not long completed Textiles 1. This child size dress was made as a final piece on the theme of her garden for the last assignment. It shares similarities with the work above in being a non-functional art piece.
The materials in Linda’s work are all soft and malleable fabrics in this instance. The contrast is between the busy areas and the large open white spaces. As textile artists we can be intimidated by a quietness and well, just nothingness, and feel we need to fill every space – but looks how the eye rests in those glorious areas of fresh white, they are the restfulness of beautifully starched white sheets. Notice too how the curved shapes of the free form appliquéd flowers contrast against the grid formations on the bodice, (which suggest wooden trellis). This was a wonderfully controlled piece of work, which imparted the excited feel of being in Linda’ s garden, but also a great sense of its stillness as well.