06 October 2016

a little bit of culture

Well hello there! About time for an update innit. So I've been doing various things over the last two months, including some new crochet designs which hopefully I'll be able to share with you soon. But for now I thought I would show you some of the cultural outings I've had.

So lets start off with a bit of good old art. In September me and the wife went to London for the weekend. Now, I'm not the biggest fan of the place, too many people for me, and everything's all rush rush rush. Add to that I had to postpone our trip by a day due to a horrendous sickness bug. So, still slightly ill, I managed to drag myself there, and one of the biggest reason I wanted to go was to catch this very special exhibition.

The Blain Southern Gallery, just off Regent Street, was hosting a solo exhibition by Abdoulaye Konaté, a Malian textile artist. You can read more about his work and the exhibition here on the gallery's website (there's also a really good video there which I suggest you watch, it was seeing the video that made me want to go see it).

His work is largely comprised of woven and dyed cloths sewn together to form quite abstract pieces, which was what this exhibition consisted of, but he also does other work with strong political and social messages.

Both the lovely wife and I really enjoyed the exhibition. The vibrancy and detail of the work was really impressive, and even though you may look at something like this as being quite abstract, it really drew you in and led to us spending a long time looking at each piece.

We did go to a few other things whilst in the big city, including an exhibition called 'Making & Unmaking' at Camden Arts Centre that was curated by Nigerian born fashion designer Duro Olowu. The exhibition was a very varied mix of different types of artwork, but there was a lot of textile and weaving work so it was very pleasing to me. We also went to the Björk digital exhibition at Somerset House, which was - AMAZING!!! It showcased a selection of video's for her new album, but 5 out of 6 of them were shown on virtual reality headsets. You went into a dark room, put on the headsets, headphones, and sat on a swivel chair. Many of the video's were also shot on a 360 degree camera, so as you can imagine, it was pretty crazy. Unfortunately photography wasn't allowed at either of these events, so you'll just have to take my word for it that they were awesome.

But, whilst at Somerset house, we also managed to catch the London design biennale.

37 countries came together submitting work on the theme of utopia. We went with very few preconceptions of what to expect, and really there was something for everyone.

Many of the pieces were interactive, including this big tube of string which you had to walk through to get to the next part of the exhibition.

These are just a few of my favourite works, but there was so much to see. What I found really interesting was how different countries took different views of the subject of utopia. Not naming names (as to not alienate any readers nationalities), some nations work had very much a 'we could aspire to utopia, it could be our future', while others seemed to have an attitude of 'we know what's best, we'll tell you what utopia is!'......one in particular seemed very politically angry at misconceptions cast upon their country, whilst another seemed regressive and harking back to a so-called 'golden age'......oooooh controversial!

Ok, what about more recently? Well last weekend I drove over to the outskirts of Bristol to catch an event I've been intrigued about for some time.

It was world textile day west. The world textile events go on throughout the year in various locations, so check their website for an event near you. I wasn't 100% on what to expect, it's rather a niche subject, but one that's right up my street. We got there just in time to catch the first talk that was going on.

Diane Gaffney of textile traders gave an hour long talk on Batik fabrics that play an intrinsic role throughout Indonesian life. She gave a wonderful insight into quite how important the messages that the fabric conveys. The talk was titled 'A Matter of Life and Death', and Diane guided us through the fabrics that are given from as early as the pregnancy, all the way through to those that are used in funerals.

Once the talk was over, there was shopping to be done, yayyyyy! Now I don't really need any more fabric, but there was so much that I just couldn't help myself. But even whist trying to keep the purse strings tight, there was still plenty to see.

There were some textiles on display among the stalls, including many amazing South American weavings courtesy of one of my favourite stalls at the event, tukuru textiles.

There were so many beautiful fabrics and objects, and many of the ones of sale (on many of the stalls) had a fairly hefty price tag - but the event does say it is about being fair trade and the workmanship is exquisite....so I guess you pay for quality and rarity, but if I had the money, I would have totally bought this!

These carved gourds, that were carved with an ordinary nail and coloured with ash, were absolutely exquisite. The larger ones demanded a pretty penny (and rightly so), but I managed to get myself a small one for a fair price.

We then caught another two short talks, one on fabric in South China, and the other on symbolism in Ghanaian printed fabric by Magie Relph of African fabric (who I've met before at the knitting and stitching shows)- both of the talks were excellent. So here's my very restrained haul from the day, including Magie and her husband Bob's book.

So yeah, that's what I've been up to....both outings ended up with hot dogs too, one was a currywurst and the other was a chilli dog.....in case you're interested.

Hope you enjoyed these cultural capers, peace out or now x

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