Thread | 10th September – 16th October 2021

Shelly Goldsmith | Raisa Kabir | Shona Robin MacPherson | Imogen Mills | Lasmin Salmon | Siwan Thomas

Curated by Angela Maddock, Ann Jordan and Lorna Hamilton Brown

Thread is the gathering of four artists from different cultures and lived experiences sharing common ground; an overwhelming interest in the very stuff of textile practice, of lives lived in and through the literal and metaphoric language of thread. Each artist recognising the potential of one drawn out, spun out, teased out fibre – in both singular and multiple forms – to perform as storyteller, witness, soothsayer, and to be simultaneously capable of healing and harm.

A thread twisted and plied with others, passed through the eye of a needle, the shed of a loom, the tip of a hook, slipped from twinned needles. The wrapped, pieced, tangled, bound, plied, woven, folded, stretched, torn, printed, hooked, knitted, unravelled, stitched, unpicked, blocked, eased, and dyed. All of this. The thread of stories and narratives, of myths and constructed truths, of obsession, violence, and celebration. Threads worn at and through the body. All life is to be found in a thread.

Thread is an imperative, an instruction. Its practices of joining, increasing, and attaching are ones of expansion and growth. This Thread, and its gathered together fabric, its tales of objects and making, is a hopeful thing. It marks an emerging and new language of textile practice.

A symposium, featuring both artists and curators, will be held on Saturday October 2nd. Other Thread related events will be listed on the elysium gallery website.

About the Artists:

Shelly Goldsmith

Goldsmith’s practice explores the power of cloth and clothing to communicate ideas, textiles as a rich landscape for expression. She creates narrative-based work that speaks of identity, fragility, and loss. Being rigorously crafted and visually stimulating her practice’s artistic endeavour provokes reflection and curiosity around what it is to be human and what it means to wear clothes. Through external funding bids she has collaborated with professionals from psychology, neonatal medicine, and forensic science. Through these collaborations her work seeks to communicate complex ideas through the familiar medium of clothes and cloth, in a fine art context.

‘Locus of the Dress’ a major textile research project undertaken with Arts Council and UCA funding explores the imprint of our lives on the garments we wear, the fine yet powerful veneer of cloth which covers our body.  Through this body of work, I view garments as having two distinct landscapes, inside and outside, both depositories for memory and experience, and boundaried by different parts of our psyche. I investigate the EXTERNAL & INTERNAL landscape of a dress, its zones of psychogeography, a place we inhabit as home physically & psychologically.

Closely guided by J Rotter’s 1950’s psychological theory Locus of  Control, I collaborated with psychologist Dr. Hermina Hernaiz (the Maudsley Hospital, London) to explore this theory which pinpoints our sense of self, on a spectrum. Pertinent to our times, those with an EXTERNAL Locus feel powerless to life’s events, feeling like things are being done to them. We are all striving for a strong INTERNAL Locus, enabling command, responsibility & autonomy. I draw upon work undertaken with Dr. Alison Fendley, UK Forensic Science service to explore aspects of the physical and metaphysical boundaries of the clothes we wear, especially concerned with the memories and experience which are deposited there, how this is read/understood and retrieved.

An autoethnographic approach is taken, key to my methodology, I mine my own psychological journey and two pertinent geographical locations (Cincinnati and the Thanetian Coast) as key content in the investigation; Cincinnati where my parents emigrated to represents the external loci and the Thanetian coast where I now live represents the internal loci’.

Ramsgate based artist Shelly Goldsmith has been working with ideas-based textiles for over 25 years. She has exhibited at major galleries and museums in Britain, Europe, USA and Japan and her work is in many notable public collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum and most recently acquired for the Haberdashers’ Livery Company and the Crafts Council, London.

In 2020 Goldsmith was awarded the Vlieseline Fine Art Textile Award, She is the recipient of the Jerwood Prize and recently received an honorable mention for the London International Creative Award.

Most recent international exhibitions include ‘Loss & Lucidity’, Lisbon, Portugal and Santa Ana, USA; Metamorphosis, Ronse, Belgium and ‘Lace Effects’, Cité internationale de la dentelle et de la mode de Calais, France. Recent Kent based exhibitions include ‘Dresses for Giants’; Łódź Blouse Trilogy and ‘Drawn to Ohio’.

Raisa Kabir

Raisa is an interdisciplinary artist, who utilises woven textiles, sound, video and performance to translate and visualise concepts concerning the politics of cloth, labour and embodied geographies. She addresses cultural anxieties surrounding nationhood, textile identities and the cultivation of borders; as well as examining the encoded violence in histories of labour in globalised neo-colonial textile production. Her weaving performances comment on power, production, disability and the body as a living archive of collective trauma. Kabir has participated in residencies and exhibited work internationally at The Whitworth, The Tetley, Raven Row, Cove Park, Textile Arts Center NYC, and the Center for Craft Creativity and Design U.S. Kabir has lectured on her research on South Asian textile cultures at Tate Modern, Institute of Contemporary Art London, London College of Fashion, The Courtauld, Royal College of Art, Manchester School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art.

Shona Robin MacPherson

The practice of Shona Robin MacPherson is a site of constant material searching in a pursuit to give form to intangible processes of ecological systems and to unpick anthropocentric knowledge claims. By employing the use of embroidered dyed cloth, garden grown plants and clay, her work magnifies the tipping point of enmeshed fabric forms, plant and human hybridity. Her work reminds us of the basic yet poignant act of material gathering, foraging, collecting, weaving and mending which encourages us to reflect on knowledge systems as akin to that of fabric; one that is in an evolving dynamic of construction, unpicking, repairing and to be re-felt. She Studied at Newcastle University, Munich Academy of Art and more recently received an MLitt in Sculpture at Glasgow School of Art.Recent projects and exhibitions; Those Who Possess Dirt, New Glasgow Society, funded by Creative Scotland through the Sustaining Creative Development programme; Scottish Sculpture Workshop Stony Connections Matter 2020; Graduate Residency at Hospitalfields, Arbroath 2016; Dumfries House residency, Supported by Princes Drawing School; Visual Artist and Craft Maker Award (Glasgow Life/Creative Scotland) 2019/20, Hope Scott Trust Visual Artist Award 2019 and 2016.Text by Denise KwanLinks:www.shonarobin.com

Lasmin Salmon

Lasmin’s distinctive textiles work has been exhibited widely through ActionSpace. She has also been selected for multiple external group shows, regularly exhibiting her work in contemporary galleries alongside mixed media and textiles artists. In 2019 Lasmin exhibited her exquisite miniature cushions alongside detailed photographic projections of her work as part of ‘Assembled Lines’, an ActionSpace exhibition for WAF, the Wandsworth Arts Fringe. In 2016 Lasmin’s ‘Rug’ was selected for the Radical Craft national touring exhibition co curated by Outside In and CraftSpace. The exhibition toured the UK visiting multiple venues including Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales and Tullie House Museum, Carlisle. In 2014 Lasmin was commissioned with textile artist Celia Pym to develop an installation for the Festival of Love at the Southbank Centre. Together Lasmin and Celia developed the ‘Yarn Mountain’ based around their shared love of knitting and invited the public to join them knit from the mountain.

During the pandemic lockdown in 2021 Lasmin revisited her passion for knitting and led weekly ActionSpace social Zoom knit sessions, sharing her prolific knitting practice with ActionSpace’s artist network. The sessions proved a unique moment each week to catch up with friends and share the making process as creative companions whilst each artist remotely developed their own knitting and sewing practice alongside Lasmin. During the sessions Lasmin created multiple, extensive knitting lengths with varied coloured wools, which she has continued to work on now back in the ActionSpace studio at Studio Voltaire.

Imogen Mills

Imogen Mills uses textile processes to communicate lived experiences. Graduating in 2020 with a First-Class Honours in Textiles from Carmarthen School of Art, specialising in weave; she has just completed a year as Graduate Resident at CSOA. Previously a community artist and gallery educator working with people from the health and social care sector, Imogen is currently studying MA Textile at UWTSD and has recently become a Lecturer at CSOA.

Imogen is interested in the textuality of cloth and the tension inherent in its construction. Fragile threads are placed in intricate formation of warp and weft with each bound and reliant on each other. Without this relationship the cloth frays; edges and boundaries less distinct. The potentiality of textile to transport complex narratives is deeply embedded in our instinctual reading of cloth. It wraps our skin, it is intimate protector. Its generosity in harbouring stories through sensual memory are revealed in its tactility. She utilises textile processes for conceptual thinking, agitating at the borders of fine art & textile.

Making, process and the tacit knowledge of material are born of fine craft, thinking is in motion. Imogen wants to capture that moment of ultimate and imminent collapse. Where does warp and weft ultimately face ruin, where does it return to its constituent parts? Exploring these ideas now through stitch, Imogen is using embodied stitch stories and collected sounds to monitor the action of stitch, the back and forth. Using translucent materials Imogen is researching the possibilities of capturing stitch in that liminal space where we witness the tension and that elusive moment; the threshold of total collapse.

Siwan Thomas – ‘Thoughtful Chaos’

Thoughtful Chaos is a collection designed for open-ended play and joyful interactions. Formed to boost personal and communal wellbeing, creating a rediscovered sense of connection in a post-pandemic world.

This tactile tool kit encourages the user to reclaim physical connections following a period of limited tactile experiences. Driven by optimism, escapism and joy seeking, consumers want to regrow and immerse themselves with joyful design and constructive influence – this is Thoughtful Chaos.

The collection is designed to be adapted into different interior settings, from home to gallery spaces. The purpose is to introduce tangible joy, to reimagine the everyday and reform essential play.

Giving the tools to an individual to; assemble, curate and present joy in their personal visual narrative. Extensive material play and playfully selected colour, pattern and forms were key in the development of the collection. Final outcomes are produced by screen printing onto calico and plywood. Layered laminated needle punched material is applied.

Siwan is a designer maker who is defined by curiosity, sensitivity of colour and the intuitive aim of providing joy.  Each design becomes an ingredient for play, as her concepts and trends analysis are translated into tangible material forms. Within her practice, she manipulates materials to construct play and harvest interaction, by cutting, assembling, and fusing.  Theoretically, she enjoys exploring the relationship between the tangible object and the human senses.

She is a recent graduate of BA (hons) Surface Pattern Design at Swansea College of Art.

Web Links

About the Curators:

Angela Maddock

A thread-based artist and academic who works with and through the literal and metaphoric language of textile practice. Angela is honorary senior research fellow with the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at King’s College London, where she was maker in residence with the Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care and where she is lead artist for Clinical Humanities with the School of Medicine. Angela’s work is mainly in the field of arts in health. She is Honorary Research Fellow with Swansea College of Art

image – Dafydd Williams

Ann Jordan

Founder Director of elysium gallery, Swansea.

Founder Member of the artist collaboratives  JoakesNervous Energy, and Nervous Synergy
Based in Swansea, Wales, my work is often site-responsive, which references both our historical and contemporary cultures and includes mapping our personal and community identities. I aim to create a relationship between the domestic, private space and the public siting of the work whilst allowing the observer to reappraise their own views of familiar crafted processes and places, utilising or creating textiles

Lorna Hamilton-Brown

Lorna has been called the ‘Banksy of Knitting’ for her use of the medium in social commentary “I love to subvert people’s associations and preconceptions of knitting and crochet. To engage audiences with challenging issues.