The current show ‘Entangled: Threads & Making’ (until 7 May) at the Turner Contemporary in Margate, UK has a great deal to say about women’s art and textiles. In COVER 46, editor Lucy Upward goes in situ to find out more about materiality and making. An extract follows.
Curated by critic and writer Karen Wright, the show focuses on textile art in a multitude of guises and brings together 100 pieces of artwork created by 40 female artists—a great mix of well-known and lesser-known names—from 19 countries. Wright’s first concept for the show was not to select gender-specific work but the idea of a women-only exhibition soon took shape. In her article in the accompanying catalogue, Wright is keen to quote Eva Hesse’s much-used statement ‘Excellence has no Sex’ and adds: ‘Regardless of the gender of the artists, their works are united in their excellence.’ Wright had been concerned that women would not be interested in being in a female-only show but she was soon proved wrong—the only problem she encountered was trying to edit the amount of great work that could have been included.
The show opens on a high note with Anna Ray’s enchanting Margate Knot, consisting of two thousand separate textile elements made of wadding-filled cotton, which took four days to install. The fun, brightly-coloured piece is not only an obvious crowd-pleaser but also a collaborative social event. Twenty local women were paid to come into the gallery and help create the work. What follows is a fascinating mix of what might often be considered craft—take jewellery by Norwegian artist Sidsel Paaske, the natural-fibre hangings by Paola Anziché or Kate MccGwire’s vintage lace and pigeon quill creations. In the words of Wright, ‘These artists elevate the elements of embroidery, knitting, weaving and crochet to a high art form.’