Posted on August 16th, 2019 by Jane Fairhurst
In my recent textile works I respond to the current climate of uncertainty across the globe by creating objects of agency that use ancient and traditional formulas for protection against the perceived evils in the world.
Founded on well-researched knowledge of amulets, talismans and fetish objects I have created asymmetrical textile sculptures, covered them with amulet devices; embroidered knots and wavy lines, shiny objects, buttons, nazaars, bells and coloured beads. The resulting forms are highly tactile, richly ornate and intriguingly ambiguous, they invite curiosity.
In line with my environmental concerns I make use of textile remnants and scraps of discarded clothing to make my sculptures. Each piece is unique, sewn together as they are from randomly shaped pieces of fabric. The resulting form is then filled with wadding and only then do I discover the final shape of the sculpture. My use of scraps and remnants to create ‘new’ textiles makes reference to the more recent use of such materials by African American women of Gees Bend for their remarkable quilts, 19th century patchwork quilts of Europe and the U.S.A., South American appliqué work and Japanese 19th century patchwork known as Boro.
Once the shape is arrived at I begin the process of hand stitching the amulet devices and embroidered areas.
Initially seeking to interpret stone-age female figurines using wadding filled cloth shapes developed from my research into ancient female forms such as the Venus of Wallendorf and the goddess of Catal Huyuk, the resulting sculptures are a celebration of asymmetry, ambiguity and intrigue as well as re-use.
I exhibit my unique sculptures on metal stands creating a strong contrast between the raw metal and the softness of the textiles. Some are grouped together as floor based sculptures and smaller ones may be grouped together on plinths.
The production of cloth has been a constant in women’s story globally as has the use of clothing for protection often with the enhancement of amulet devices added to protect the wearer and avert the ‘evil eye’. In using these objects I add agency to my sculptural work, following an ancient tradition of protection in an uncertain world.
I see myself following the tradition, not only of women from our ancient past but also the women artists that came before me who also worked with cloth, Louise Bourgeois, Dorothea Tanning, Gita Bratescu.
Both my sculptures and paintings provide me the opportunity to investigate the role of women in our human story through the production of cloth and clothing and to address the dichotomy of the female artist working in a domestic environment using the domestic as subject matter.