Handwise IV curated by Ahn Wells
Angela Armstrong, Chris Brown, Jan Downes, Ruth Feeney, Annemarie Murland
Wednesday 16 February - Saturday 5 March 2011
Opening night: Thursday 17 February, 6-8pm
Curator and artists talk: Saturday, 5 March, 4pm
Free and all welcome
This year, the annual Handwise exhibition extends into exhibition number four. The artists participating in 2011 are all local: Angela Armstrong, Chris Brown, Jan Downes, Ruth Feeney and Annemarie Murland.
Handwise IV is once again curated by Newcastle based artist Ahn Wells. It follows on from the the original concept of creating works which are based on fibre/textile materials and/or techniques. Each artist was invited to contribute new work that falls within the Handwise concept but which also explores their own artistic practice.
For Ruth Feeney, this means another floor installation, this time made up of simply folded polyethylene triangles that are carefully arranged into a pattern on the wooden gallery floor. While Feeney works on the floor, Chris Brown transforms a corner of the gallery in a maze of colour and vibrant illusion made from vintage cotton string, based on the craft of String Theory. It may seem odd to include painter Annemarie Murland in a Handwise exhibition but her deeply coloured “weave paintings” sit comfortably with the concept and remind us of Scottish tartan blankets. In contrast are the pale and delicate work of Angela Armstrong - hand-sewn weathered seaweed captured between layers of silk, reflecting her personal preoccupation with the natural world. Jan Downes' lightly coloured porcelain ceramics hang precariously from the gallery wall and continue the artists interest in the ephemeral life of cloth.
This exhibition challenges audiences expectations of what fibre textile art is, and can be, within a contemporary art context.
REVIEW: 4th Annual Handwise at PODSpace
By Dwuan LaTrobe
Running into its 4th annual appearance in Newcastle’s art world is Handwise IV at the PODspace Gallery, from its beginnings at the John Paynter Gallery in 2008. Creator, artist then turned curator Ahn Wells has been exploring the world of tactile and textile artworks. This outing sees Angela Armstrong, Chris Brown, Jan Downes, Ruth Feeny and Annemarie Murland fill the space with fibres and weaves of a contemporary cloth.
Ruth Feenly's work immediately draws your gaze as you enter the room as it takes up most of the floor space. It's comprised of 228 intricately folded triangles of synthetic cloth laid out in all geometrical patterns. Ruth once again pulls off repetitive shapes in an ordered fashion and the ethereal tonal hues ripple over the entire piece, though I prefer more chaotic pieces like her stencil mural of chairs on King St. This work reminded me of The Harmonic Algorithm as explained to me by multicoloured curry puffs.
The next piece that grabs my attention. The far wall is filled with 660 lines formed by cotton thread fanning out from 10 different directions. The colours of Rust to Scarlet and Lemon to Amber bisect each other producing a myriad number of diamond shaped negative space. This is Chris Brown's contribution to the show. I do enjoy Chris's work and have a photo of his in my Studio. But once again I'm brought down by the order. It's the same Harmonic Algorithm just explained differently by a tailor at a bush doof.
I wander around counter clockwise to a brace of oils by Annemarie Murland. They are wonderfully complex with layers upon layers. It's like native copper at the Museum of Natural History. An element that makes you wonder how it grows beneath the earth only to be dug up and then admired as this quirky organic ore. A work with roots. Though I have never seen works by this Artist I look forward to her art in the future.
Following that is a series of cyanotype photograms. Portholes into underwater worlds. Artist Angela Armstrong collects seaweed and sews them into little pockets of silk, casting them into the dark to mature a lovely little series of prints. Some grow to be kaleidoscopic, some to be vortexes and some just grow up to be trees. I always like a good Prussian Blue. For some reason the first thought that popped into my head when I saw them was Reindeer antlers in petri dishes.
Which brings me to the last work in the exhibition, a set of unassuming porcelain tiles. But as I look further they represent that bottom draw in my wardrobe, the one where I keep all the jeans I never wear but am too in love with to throw out. And somehow I'm whisked away to remember a pair of corduroy pants I had when I was 16 and fell apart around me only to be patched and over patched.
The loved to death of weave caught and set in china by Jan Downes.
This group of art is outstanding in its commitment to exploring the medium of fabric and textile in a fashion that might be unrevealing to the eye in the first but is revealed slowly. A total mix of media but they do speak strongly to one another. I must congratulate Ahn's vision in putting together such a show.
2 March 2011 - 12:14pm