Thursday, 28 November 2013

Research Point - Textile Art

For this last piece of research I decided to look at the work of Jennifer Collier and Tracey Emin. 

Both these women use traditional craft methods but the outcomes couldn’t be more different.  Jennifer Collier produces whimsy, sometimes a bit twee, items that provoke loving memories of the past and nostalgic feelings for times gone by; whereas Tracey Emin is brutal in the retrospective look at her life. 

Tracey Emin is an English artist.  She was born in 1963, studied art in Maidstone and at the Royal College of Art; where she obtained an MA in painting. 

A lot of her work is textile based (using fabric that she has collected that hold an emotional attachment for her) which she uses to create large scale appliqué, patchwork and embroidery work.  Although a lot of her pieces are brutally honest, there is also a lot of poetry in her words; “DRUNK TO THE BOTTOM OF MY SOUL” “YOU FORGOT TO KISS MY SOUL” “EVERY PART OF ME IS BLEEDING”. 

When I look at her work, I can never really come to a decision about liking it or not.  Her controversial piece “Everyone I Have Every Slept With 1963-1995” (an erected two-man tent , appliquéd with many names) was often talked about as a “… shameless exhibition of sexual conquests...” and does indeed include the names of many of her sexual partners; but it also contains the names of anyone she has every slept next to - family members, school friends, her twin brother and her aborted babies - and it is this that makes the piece very intimate and always makes me feel very sad.  A life counted by people she has laid down next too. 

I can’t make my mind up about her work.  I don’t know whether she produces work as a cathartic release for her troubled past (do what you know); or whether she uses it as a defence mechanism (this is me, wart’s and all; take it or leave it); or whether she is pushing the boundaries of poor taste and quietly laughing up her sleeve when it sells for tens of thousands of pounds; or is that what makes it art - pushing the boundaries and making people question the outcome.

Jennifer Collier is a British textile artist who studied at Manchester Metropolitan University graduating with a BA (Hons) in Textiles in 1999.  She has a studio on her parent’s farm in Staffordshire and is self-employed.  


I met her at a workshop that was run in her studios and she seemed to be a very generous, friendly, open person - happy in her skin - which comes across in her work.  She seems to work very hard to make a living being a textile artist; running her studio/exhibitions, selling work and taking commissions, running workshops and renting out studio space to other artists and mentoring up and coming textile artists.  Her work is nostalgic.  She creates shoes, dresses, tea cups and teapots using found papers, stamps, vintage paper, books and maps.  Combining elements to create new fabric to work with.  Her recent work is creating items from found papers - typewriters, telephones, lampshades and cameras.  Nothing about her work is offensive, it is very pretty and delicate.

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