Echoes of Land and Sea – textile art open studio for Rome Art Week
Rome Art Week October 2018 provided a rare opportunity to showcase textile art to the Roman art scene. Textile art and fibre art are two fields of contemporary art that are little known in Italy, where embroidery, weaving, quilting and crocheting are still considered “making” and “craft”, but are rarely seen as fine art. This perspective is quite different from that of many other countries, such as UK, US, Australia, France, Russia and Scandinavia.
Echoes of Land and Sea, curated by Velia Littera, presented the work of two textile artists based in Rome, Felicity Griffin Clark and Olga Teksheva. Counterweave Arts Gallery & Workshop hosted the exhibition and open studio which included textile artworks, two collaborative site installations, and a display of works in progress.
Visitors said they hadn’t seen anything like it before, and were fascinated by the use of textiles to achieve painterly effects in color and texture. They were fully engaged by the way textiles can be manipulated to convey emotion, and to make both abstract and figurative works.
Echoes of Land and Sea broke new ground in bringing contemporary textile art to Rome. The artists are planning a bigger exhibition with wider representation for Fall 2019. Both artists are members of The Society for Embroidered Work, a professional organization for artists who work with stitch. They share S.E.W.’s passion to promote embroidery as an art form.
Felicity Griffin Clark has been working with textiles since 2005 and has exhibited in Australia, the UK, Italy, Germany, France, South Africa and the US. She uses a range of media and techniques to combine colours, textures and meanings in unconventional ways. She has a deep knowledge of traditional craft skills and uses them unexpectedly. Felicity likes people to be intrigued by her work: able to recognize elements (such as embroidery stitches) but surprised by the context, or by the meaning of the work.
Olga Teksheva started her artistic career in 2011 as an embroidery artist, working mainly in haute couture and contemporary embroidery, and also creating artistic textiles as wearable art. After a few fashion seasons she began to perceive wearable art projects as “restricting”, both in measurements and practical sense, and gradually moved to visual art, transforming and “deforming” traditional techniques of textile manipulation. In 2017 she created her first large fibre installation, and since then has developed more projects in this direction.
Both artists share a passion for innovation in traditional craft skills, using experimentation, surprise, and elaborating precious, intrinsic textures. Both are interested in conveying deep emotions such as grief, memory, trauma and stigma; but also courage, resistance, hope and joy. The colours, rhythms and textures of landscapes and seascapes evoke and reflect these emotional states and can provide a key to working through them.
Velia Littera is a curator and the director of Pavart Gallery, Rome (www.pavart.it)
Photographs © 2018 by Mara Celani (http://www.quiddivinum.it)