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 Beyond, this 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 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.