Posts Tagged ‘felt’

Eye-Opening Grids

Friday, May 25th, 2018

Browsing online recently, I discovered the beautiful textile art of Canadian artist Chung-Im Kim .

Born in South Korea, and for nearly three decades resident in Canada, Chung-Im’s art interestingly and successfully blends her cultural past with her cultural present. Traditional Korean bojagi are some of the cultural roots to which Chung-Im periodically returns for inspirational refreshment; and in one body of work these well-known traditional textiles have become canvases for print and stitch compositions.  But it is her dimensional, sculptural work with felt that blew me away, with alluring titles of groups of work in her portfolio – pre-grids, grids, free grids, living geometry and miniatures.

Felt is made from a large variety of natural, synthetic fibres and blended fibres, with wool felt considered to be one of the oldest textiles in human history.  Late last year I wrote of an interesting exhibition by some international feltmakers in the textile biennial here in Montevideo, and though I have found and bought some beautifully crafted felt things down the years, I’ve still never seen anyone actually making felt, and have never seriously considered it as a ‘raw material’ for my own art, though I am aware of artists such as Rebecca Howdeshell US,  Siv Goransson UY and Australian Nancy Ballesteros.

Chung-Im describes her materials and process as industrial felt screen printed with digitally engineered images, which she presumably cuts into, and then assembles the remaining pieces by hand, for which see this image.  So I googled ‘industrial’ felt, and now understand ‘felt’ to be a huge field, more varied than I’d ever thought about, and of large scale manufacturing of felted fibres of various kinds and blends with industrial applications including carpet underlays and gaskets for use in some machinery. The most interesting site I spent time on provides sizes of pre-cut and rolled felt from small custom shapes, various page-sized sheets up to huge rolls of various widths and thicknesses, depending on the buyer’s requirements.  I immediately began developing a mental list of ‘buyer’s requirements’ to ask about, and it almost makes me want to ditch my woven fabrics and clear studio space for some industrial felt supplies … No, I doubt I’d take such a radical step, but some ideas a percolating, and as I do have some small pieces of craft felt around, some time I might paint, monoprint or stencil something on it of my own design, or look into getting something printed, as a canvas for embroidery, perhaps.  Felt as a non-fraying material with some body or stiffness is inspiring…but I digress.

These works really opened my eyes to the potential of ‘grids’, and to the realisation that I may have been interpreting ‘grids’ too narrowly, despite several posts on the subject, like this one .   Isohyets, topographical maps, aerial photos, erosion patterns, in fact all kinds of contour lines associated with diagrams, maps and charts all come flooding into my mind when viewing these works.

Chung-Im Kim, dawn,  2012,   71 x 60 x 6 inches.  Image artist supplied.

Chung-Im Kim, nalgae,  2012,  43 x 44 x 5 inches.  Image artist supplied.
Chung-Im Kim,  baekya 2009, 46 x 47 x 4 inches.  Image artist supplied.

These and many more works on her website show inspiration from landscape shapes and patterns of surface textures.

Another interesting group of work is titled ‘living geometry’ , containing pieces which I initially thought could have been filed with ‘free grids’, because all their grids are certainly irregular.  However, on further reflection, I realised the difference in concept is that these pieces appear to be growing right out of a surface in a very organic way, suggesting they are alive.

The combination of smooth, printable surface and stiffness that lends itself to sculptural goals, reminded me of the wool felt sculpture/garment exhibited by heather Brezo Alcoceba of Spain, which I mentioned in the post of 14/11/2017 last.  (scroll well down)  In this pop-over shoulder cape kind of garment, the wearability of which was not immediately obvious, it now occurs to me that that very 3D surface has a strong connection to the idea of irregular grids.

I’d like to thank Chung-Im Kim for supplying images and giving permission to use them in this article.

 

Textile Exhibitions Montevideo, 4

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

On the top floor (no lift)  of the recently restored original Cabildo building Museo Historico Cabildo on the Plaza Matriz is a lovely small exhibition I’m glad I went to this morning.  Entitled From Within – Outside and Beyondthis invitational exhibition was curated by Beatriz Schaaf of Uruguay and Germany, hence the inspired, evocative, title.  I must confess it, I know little of felt making.  I have seen wonderful felt here (Siv Goransson) and in my home town Perth Western Australia, (Nancy Ballesteros) for example; I own a couple of fabulous scarves, and sometimes buy something made in UY to take overseas as gifts.  But I’ve never watched anyone making felt. I believe wool felts best of all because of its fibre characteristics, and I believe water plus your hands and arms are greatly involved.  Prominent felters in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, The Netherlands and Uruguay were given Uruguayan wool to work with, to which most then added other wools from their own regions, plus in many cases incorporated other fibres, papers, cloths, natural materials and metals to produce their creations for this show, a lovely idea.  Here I present some of my favourites.

 


Margarete Warth, Germany, Vessels (Recipientes) variable sizes, max length approx. 20cm

To me these looked ceramic, but of course they are felt, and beautifully as-if-casually-arranged on an elegant marble mantle-piece in the grey-walled gallery.

 

Esther Weber, Switzerland/Italy, Revelation full (perhaps 90cm x 75cm) plus detail

I love the textures on this one, Revelation by Esther Weber, suggesting something growing and hatching or emerging from beneath the top layer… something organic and a bit disturbing perhaps, so I’m not going further down that path! (see post 3 in this series for my comments on statements and titles)  This is a perfect example of a brief title giving freedom for the viewer to mentally explore responses with minimal direction from the artist.

 

Gudrun  Bertenberger-Geyer, Austria  Hidos humanos / Human nests – silver (front) and gold (rear)  height perhaps 1.5m each

I managed to photograph these so that they hid the security fellow sitting behind them 🙂   They look so solid, like rocks or cement, but knowing they’re not, I really felt I’d like to climb in and see how nesty these feel.  As I say, I know little of felting technique, and it surprised me that someone could make such large forms -feeling sure that this comment proves my ignorance.  So I googled ‘3D felt shapes – how large can they go?’ and, well, I’d need to know how to crawl before walking this one, but clearly there’s a lot of interesting potential.

 

Claudia Fischer, Germany, collection of bowls, individually approx. 20cm diam, 15cmH

Each a bit different, with textural variations on the inside and outside, plus different edge textures (rims), these bowl forms were placed low down so you could easily see inside many of them, too.


Christine Rummel, Germany,  selected textural pieces.

Christine Rummel of Germany provided a large installation of panels of textures and a table to which were attached several little pieces people could touch and fiddle with, always a wonderful experience for viewers of all ages.  Textiles and fabrics are such an important part of our lives from our arrival in the world to our departure, and we expect to be able to touch them, but so often cannot.  (refer to the right hand panel of the top photo)  I just loved the grey and cream texture in the upper right of the panel, with little lips or protuberances of 0.25-0.4cm filled with something darker grey.  In the lower panel, very, very fine forms suggest something almost papery, like wasps’ nests or something very organic, and quite fascinating.  No, I didn’t touch them, but was very tempted.

As I write this, I realise this exhibition in particular has been very inspiring to me personally, and for that I send my thanks to ALL the exhibitors, including even those whose work I haven’t commented on.  Felting is very organic, somehow very ‘environmental’, and I will not forget this exhibition.   But there were a couple of negatives – the signage was tiny, often poorly lit and positioned way down close to the floor.  Good grief organisers, think a bit more carefully about making it easier for all people to access the relevant information – use larger signage, placed close to works at heights that don’t require visitors to almost kneel on the floor. (In another museum today, Museo Andes it was exactly the opposite)  And, further, I was stunned to find when I got home and consulted the biennial catalogue, that not only were not all images of pieces in this show included in the catalogue, but none were attributed at all – how very disappointing for everyone involved, and unprofessional to say the least.  I could not have written what I have if I had not taken photos at every point in this lovely exhibition.

 

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