Cut Cloth: A Stunning Contemporary Textiles Exhibition at the Portico Library


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Hi Hello my name is Oly and this is #Bookdraw for those who don’t know I enjoy looking at
queer fiction and then making little images out of it. As some will know I enjoy turning
my images into textile artworks and this exhibition really inspired me. It’s called Cut Cloth
which has been curated by Sarah-Joy Ford. It’s absolutely incredible and it’s at the
Portico Library. I managed to take a little bit of recordings of my night there and interviewed
a couple of artists there two. The Portico Library is a beautiful space with some really
interesting historic books. You should definitely check out the whole thing. So I’m Sarah-Joy Ford I’m an artist and curator. I’m based in Leeds and I work with textiles
and the intersection between feminist and queer theory and how that can be explored
in textiles. Queer Theory’s means that you’re not fixed into a binary positions. Like the
expansive way of looking at things and taking them away from the binary position, opening
it out so you can occupy multiple positions at once so it comes out of the LGBT movement
it also becomes an academic shift in a way of understanding culture. So textiles works
really well within queer theory on two kind of levels so their is a kind of marginalised
history with the LGBTQ community and then you also have the marginalised histories of
textiles practice being pushed to the side of art and it being considered ‘woman’s art’
and outsider art and all those kind of narratives of outsidership with kinda LGBTQ narratives
and with also textiles it refuses to be tided it refuses to be apart of an opposition between
art, between craft private and public space and it really resists that in the same way
that queer culture does. So it seems a really exciting place to talk about textile material
culture being LGBT and feminist identities as well. So the show came out of my own practice
and while I was studying I was really interested in feminist artists and how they used textiles
talking about their experiences of the history of women and how textiles have really been
politicized based medium. I was interested in all this kind of seventies culture where
their were subversive acts to get them into gallery spaces, they received a lot of bad
reviews people really like pushed it to the side and I was thinking about contemporary
culture. Then I was thinking about the shift in contemporary culture where it’s really
normal to see textiles in a gallery space now with really big artists like Ishan Bari
and Grayson Perry. I wanted to reflect a little bit on the differences between making textile
art as a feminist in the seventies and now and that surge in popularity and whether it
was still radical and what it means too make textile art as woman and as a feminist and
what is the future of that if it’s not so radical to bring textiles into a gallery and
what makes it what are we going to build that future on . In 2014 we yarn bombed eight of the Man’s
statues in Manchester Town Hall all the statutes in Manchester Town Hall are men and all the
status in Manchester apart from Queen Victoria because she was born that way
We were just thinking if you were a young girl or woman, walking around Manchester and
in all of the public squares and everywhere you would see these big bulging bronze men
and go. ‘Oh look men are really important they deserve a big bulging bronze but ok?
Where are the women?’ So we just thought yeah let’s try and re-address
the balance a bit and have some nice women to celebrate. In fact people we’re joking
going ‘who are you going to do?’ Cleopatra comin at ya? Emmeline Pankhurst? who? who
are these Manchester Women, we were like ‘What? We were like ‘ yeah, well we don’t either?’
So we did some more reading and research and in fact there were loads to choose from there
just hidden from history. Yeah Historian Bethany Hughes last year she did a Life of historic
England about women’s history and how their lives are suppressed and not recorded or celebrated
and she had the quote the statistic that women have always made over fifty percentage of
the world’s population but they represent only 0.5% of recorded history in the western
world. I made the masks and I used crochet because
well that my kinda art form which go for, and its a traditional female role.
Anyway as a result of that ummmm, we were contacted
We were contacted by Manchester City Council Andrew Sitcock and he said
He wanted to start a campaign to commission a statue of one of these Manchester women.
It was part inspired by L project and part by one of his mate who just before our project
they were having lunch and she was going (In a higher pitch)
Where are all the women? Oh my God this is so man heavy! I’m bored
What a sausage party! Yeah like how about some women? Where is fifty
percentage of the population though? Fast forward three years, (fast forward sounds)
They put a call out for a bunch of other women who were shortlisted to be depicted by.
And that was great that they were all celebrated, they were all on the local news they had profiles
of each of the women even if the project, so the projects at the end of the day they
are celebrating one woman, but 25 women or 20 women were celebrated at the start and
they were raising their profiles in local schools and then on local news like the BBC
and ITV they profiled each of the eight finalist women last year and they had a small segment
last year which was fantastic again raising the awareness so yes
And the final woman that was picked was Emmeline Pankhurst who is probably the most well known
suffragette in Manchester, this is the Maquette by the artist Hazel Reeves and that was the
one picked by people who voted out of the final six.
The statue is going to unveiled in 2019 and they’re still fund raising for it so if you
google womanchester manchester for more info goodbye! It’s on until the 5th July on Saturday the
17th June their is a collaborative knitting workshop with Helen Davies who is a part of
Warp and Weft, who has done some really exciting who has done some really exciting craftivist
project in Manchester protesting the lack of representation of women in Manchester statues
and buildings so you can come and join in you don’t have to know how to knit or you
can be really advanced you can come and join in and knit little bits together and make
a big collaborative piece We’re going to have a book launch which is
a part of the exhibition which explores the themes even further it will have some newly commissioned essays
and it will be free to download on the internet so everyone can access it. It
will also be available to buy as a book and that launches at the Whitworth on the 6th
July come along have a free cocktail and come have a lovely time
Then on the 7th July there is a craftivist workshop run by Sarah Corbit who is the founder
of the Craftivist Collective in London who champions what she calls ‘soft activism’ and
we will be embroidering handkerchiefs to send to people in power to tell them how we feel
and what we want to change about so you can sign up on eventbrite and make some change with your stitches. (end title noises macras shaking)