The other exhibit we went to see at the Textile Museum was called People Place and Thing, it consisted of three mini-exhibits. I am not sure why they called it that, but the names of the mini-exhibits made a little more sense.
The first one is called Skin and Bone. The artist, David Halper, has applied some very interesting embroidery to various furs and skins.
The most striking is a large embroidery of a woman on the flank of a full-sized horse. The horse looks real, but it is a model of a horse covered in cowskin, complete with fur.
Then there is a series of embroideries of shadow creatures on animal hides. For example a shadow eagle with the two hands held up to create the shadow. The embroidery is accurate enough to be able to follow it to create your own shadow eagle.
A little bizarre was the set of faces embroidered onto the cross-sections of deer lying on the floor. Each "deer" was a full-sized model of the front half of a deer. Something just a little macabre about that display.
But the embroidery was amazing, the level of detail and shading in the portraits very impressive.
The second mini-exhibit was Faces and Mazes. Here, the artist Lia Cook has executed woven hangings that look like photographs in the level of detail. She used computer software to translate pictures into weaving instructions. The close-up detail of how it was done has a maze-like quality to it, and one hanging actually looks like a maze. Then it looks like a close-up of the weave structure, but when you look at it closely, it is essentially patches of black and white woven in very fine detail. Her work is fascinating, you can get lost in it. Most of the faces were doll faces, but some were actual baby faces.
The third exhibit was called Stumble, it consisted of outsized male heads and figures put together with bits of fabric sewn together and then inflated to form three dimensional figures. The technique was interesting; apparently the artist (Stephen Schofield) wets down the fabric with sugar water and then inflates it, the sugar in the water stiffens the fabric as the water evaporates so that the figure holds its three dimensional shape. To take it down, it is sprayed with ordinary water which washes out the sugar and deflates the figure. The figures are remarkably well done, you can see the musculature reproduced in the fabric.
Of the three exhibits, the last one interested me the least, but only because I have a personal interest in embroidery and weaving; I might be more interested in Stumble if I was a quilter.
The last special exhibit we saw was of Orenburg Shawls. Orenburg is a Russian town, they knit shawls there out of local wool. The shawls are uncommonly light and warm, they are knitted up in lacy patterns. When you see how fine the lace is, you wonder how such a shawl could keep you warm. The description of the display noted that when Russia became Communist, the production of the shawls was collectivized, but after the Communist era ended it went back to being a cottage industry as it was before 1917. Women are so resilient, they just keep on keeping on!
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