In 2018 London Art Fair launched Platform, a new section focusing on a single theme or discipline. In January 2020, Platform presented Threading Forms curated by Candida Stevens, bringing to the fore a selection of galleries capturing the breadth of different artists working in textiles and the growing appreciation of the medium as a beautiful and collectible art form.
The vision for Threading Forms was to demonstrate the variation currently at play within fine art textiles. The variety of art forms presented here incorporates machine and hand stitch, tapestry, deconstructed fabrics, collage.
Linking in with the Modern British origins of the fair, Oxford Ceramics Gallery presented Peter Collingwood. Collingwood is largely considered the pre-eminent British artist weaver of the post war Modern British period. He is described as a technical innovator, teacher and mentor. The visual results of Collingwood’s work are calming, symmetrical and light.
Professor Alice Kettle presented by Candida Stevens Gallery continued the work that Collingwood started. Described by the V&A as a ‘pioneer’ and ground-breaking she is a contemporary educator, pioneer, innovator. Kettle incorporates a blend of analogue and digital, using machines both old and new alongside the use of hand-stitching. The visual results of Kettle’s work, always rich in narrative, are dynamic, colourful and arresting. Southampton City Art Gallery, the Fair’s museum partner this year, recently acquired Odyssey, a significant work by Kettle.
Arusha Gallery shown Julie Airey whose work has a delicacy to it. Layers of fine muslin combined with thread and paint to create an ethereal quality. Suggestions of shapes, nearly there figures, comment on the vulnerability of the human condition. Airey is an artist who trained as a painter and now incorporates the materials of paint and thread in her work.
Cavaliero Finn show woven and cut tapestries by Jacy Wall alongside ceramics by Björk Haraldsdóttir. The visual harmony of the two artists is striking. Bjork’s knowledge of architecture is evident in her geometric forms and marries in with the deconstructed pattern structure of Wall’s work.
Atelier WeftFaced also present tapestry, combining the skills of hand woven tapestry and hand crafted costume. Better known commissioned pieces include Tirra Lirra by Gillian Ayres (2014) for Alan Cristea Gallery and Amigos (2016-19) for Martin Creed.
Having these two different presentations of tapestry links with West Dean Tapestry Studio who will be on site demonstrating the art of tapestry weaving throughout the duration of the fair. The fair team kindly agreed to give some space to two charities, West Dean College of Arts and Education and OutsideIn to bring a broad reaching appeal to Platform.
OutsideIn is a charity that works with artists who face significant barriers to the art world due to health, disability, social circumstance or isolation. Several of their artists use textile art as their primary form of expression. Anthony Stevens, whose work is presented here, uses hand stitching to create expressive pieces that he says work as a form of therapy and self expression.
The vision was to allow Platform Threading Forms to stand out, to have it’s own identity, to make it both visually and emotionally different, to emphasise it’s unique place within the larger fair. The idea was to activate the space by having a live performance of ‘textile art in the making’ throughout the week. Demystifying artistic process is key to allowing collectors to confidently access art, as textile art becomes a trending art form there is more interest than ever from collectors. With live demonstration throughout the week of tapestry by West Dean and machine and hand stitching by Alice Kettle, visitors will be enlightened and inspired.
Platform Galleries and Artists
Arusha Gallery: Bringing works by Julie Airey
Oxford Ceramic Gallery: Bringing works by Peter Collingwood
Cavaliero Finn: Bringing works by Jacy Wall, Björk Haraldsdóttir
Atelier Weftfaced: Bringing works by Katharine Swailes, Caron Penney
Candida Stevens Gallery: Bringing works by Alice Kettle