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Entangled: at the Turner Contemporary

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Turner contemporary, entangled, women artists and makers, Major sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewellery exhibition.

As curator Karen Wright remarked in the Independent recently, the opening of Entangled: Threads & Making at the Turner Contemporary on 28 January seemed particularly appropriate.

In the huge women’s marches that took place in the USA, London and around the world,  women wearing self-knitted pink ‘pussyhats’ were united in rejecting Trump’s position as a world leader for, amongst other reasons, he is a man who has demonstrated little respect for women.

1.17 million hats were knitted and given out for people to wear at the official march in Washington D.C. as well as the sister marches across the country.

Entangled: Threads & Making is a major exhibition of sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewellery from the early 20th century to the present day which brings together more than 100 works by 40 women artists of 19 nationalities united by their use of materials and methodology of making art.

It features over 40 international female artists who expand the possibilities of knitting and embroidery, weaving, sewing and wood carving, often incorporating unexpected materials such as plants, clothing, hair and bird quills.

Entangled: Threads & Making curator by writer and critic Karen Wright became fascinated by the making processes she saw first-hand on the many studio visits she did with artists for her ‘In the Studio’ column for the Independent.

The idea for Entangled: Threads & Making evolved out of these visits, in particular one with renowned American artist Kiki Smith who was working on her epic tapestry Sky (2012), which has bee included in the exhibition.

The exhibition brings together artists from different generations and cultures who challenge established categories of craft, design and fine art, and who share a fascination with the handmade and the processes of making itself.

Hannah Ryggen, for example, who was born in 1894 in Malmo, Sweden. She moved to northern Norway with her painter husband and turned from painting to weaving. Her large political works, drawn often from photos in newspaper reports, responded to the difficult political situation in which the Norwegians found themselves.

In 6 oktober 1942, the tapestry included in the exhibition, Churchill stands stoically in the centre with Hitler floating upwards to the left, the oak leaf, a symbol of Nazism, coming provocatively from his anus on the left. Ryggen’s family is portrayed in a boat preparing to flee.

Anna Ray, who recently collaborated with a group of local women to create ‘the Margate Knot‘, told Wright how her work was often rejected as too crafty by art galleries and too artistic by craft galleries.

This Knot work, composed of 2,000 individual pieces, was a collaborative social event but is still full of artistic strength. In paying women for their labours, bringing them into the museum to stuff the individual elements, Ray has created a massive installation that involved the community.

A new publication, available from the Turner Contemporary shop, accompanies the exhibition, and in it are essays and interviews by Ann Coxon, Stina Högkvist, Siri Hustvedt, Kathryn Lloyd, Rosa Martínez, Marit Paasche, Frances Morris and Karen Wright.

Wright said:  “When we first set out to create Entangled: Threads & Making, over 3 years ago, I was initially overwhelmed by how many artists wanted to take part in the show. It gave the idea currency, at a time when little had been done in investigating this area both in terms of gender, but also in terms of materials.

“For me, the show is an opportunity to re-evaluate the political status of women in the market place as well as the way that they use materials and express their concerns.”

Entangled: Threads & Making runs until 7 May 2017. For more information about the Turner Contemporary, click here.

  1. YBA artists Sarah Lucas and Tracey Emin may well be ‘over exposed’ but to exclude them from Entangled at the new Turner Contemporary show is perverse, particularly Emin as it’s her home town, and that she has played a significant part in giving credibility to the use of textiles as a valid medium in the making of contemporary art.

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