Parade, a Celebration of Contemporary Art Textiles, is the first major exhibition curated by Kristian Day at the Broadway Gallery. Inspired by the banner Foursquare our City, designed by Edmund Hunter in 1909 to celebrate the founding of Letchworth. Bringing together 15 acclaimed international artists Parade is presented as a survey and acclamation of recent developments in visual art textiles, showcasing the many ways in which threads and fabrics are being used by contemporary artists. Featuring recent sculpture, installation, tapestry, and textiles by Caroline Achaintre, David Mabb, Yelena Popova, Lilah Fowler, Marianne Thoermer, Boon and Baum, Katie Schwab, Bea Bonafini, Chris Alton, Fiona Curran, Anna Perach, Will Cruickshank, Mark Corfield-Moore, Gal Leshem and Cecilia Charlton, the exhibition exposes a diverse group of artists engaged in numerous differing practices.
A fascination with making and materials may be common ground for the artists featured, but the work presented reaches far beyond the practical. The medium, though integral, does not supersede the message. Yelena Popova’s woven tapestry One neutron too many, for example, is inspired by the artist’s childhood in Ozyorsk, Russia, the birthplace of the Soviet nuclear weapons programme, and is based on the expanding circles of radiation emanating from uranium and plutonium. Katie Schwab’s practice interweaves personal, social, and craft-based histories, often drawing from marginalised and overlooked traditions of living, making and working collectively using textiles to explore underrepresented histories of domestic and civic design. Bea Bonafini’s practice is also socially engaged albeit on a more personal level, her carpet wall hanging Il Trionfo explores confrontation in human relationships, ritual processes and notions of the sensual and the visceral. David Mabb’s work, however, investigates the socialist ideals behind William Morris designs, placing them alongside symbols of 20th century and contemporary political culture.
As boundaries between art and craft are becoming blurred and old prejudices towards gendered associations with materials and practices are being challenged, Parade is a timely celebration of textiles, needlepoint, embroidery, tapestry and weaving and acts as a reminder of the vital nature of these media beyond the functional or aesthetic.
Broadway Gallery would like to thank the University of Hertfordshire Collection and UH Arts for their assistance with the exhibition.
Main image (detail): Yelena Popova One neutron too many (U238>PU239), 2018 Jacquard woven tapestry 140 x 175 cm
Installation photos © Corey Bartle Sanderson