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Textiles at Dismaland

Banksy’s current offering Dismaland Bemusement Park questions our view of art and its culture. His provocative style of curating leads us to question what contemporary art is, who the artist is and who is qualified to look at art.  This exhibition has further pushed the boundaries of where art can be seen and what an art exhibition is.   I admire Banksy because he doesn’t give you any of the answers.  There are no explanations and barely any information even in the catalogue.  It’s entirely up to the viewer to decide what you think, which I find incredibly liberating and perhaps one of the reasons for his success.  This is art for the people, if they want it.
See Stephen’s previous post here.
I found the exhibition playful and funny, dark and disturbing, enlightening and thought provoking. So what of the textiles? There were a surprisingly large number of artworks that comprised of textile materials including the central Banksy work, Cinderella. Here he had used a textile to create the soft life like creases in the upturned bodies of the horses.
For this blog post I have chosen six artworks that show as range of ways textiles have been used in this exhibition.
1. Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (03.23) animation (2011) by Becky Sloan and Joe Pelling

Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared from This Is It on Vimeo.
The creators of this short film used fabric in bright colours to create a soft child friendly atmosphere. They use this to play on the conventions of children’s television, using it as a backdrop whilst taking their characters into disturbing and absurd situations. The textiles add to the saccharin sweet nature of the film juxtaposing with raw meat and dark humour.
2. Mushroom Cloud Play House (date unknown) by Dietrich Wegner

Dietrich Wegner mushroom cloud installation

Wegner has selected polyester wadding more usually used inside cushions and quilts as the main constituent for this large piece. It’s lightness and malleability has created what he describes as “the ephemeral beauty of a mushroom cloud”. The work plays on our knowledge of the mushroom cloud and the fun and cosy feeling suggested by the wadding, the textile to help us experience this contradiction.
3. Bull (2011) by Dorcas Casey

Dorcas Casey

Dorcas makes her sculptures from recycled knitted garments and blankets. Using stitch to transform them into life like and life size creatures. The work is both realistic and ambiguous. The pose she places the creatures in along with the domestic furniture she uses provokes an unsettling effect. The method of their construction is not hidden, with visible threads and stitching, suggesting honesty for the materials and techniques.
4. Path of Roses (2008) by Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene

Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene

For these textile pieces Severija uses cotton cross-stitch to embroider roses onto used car parts. The worn-out surface of the car bonnet lends itself well to the soft neat stitches of the embroidery. The holes have been made using power tools otherwise the technique is the same when using fabric. This is wonderful example of traditional textiles being explored in a contemporary way.
5. The Banners of Ed Hall

Ed Hall

On display were a number of banners made by Ed Hall a professional banner maker for 40 years. These marching banners are a continuation of banners used to front political groups since the late 1800’s. Their bright eye catching designs have been constructed in a traditional hand sewn way, conveying messages of struggle and camaraderie. In his interview with Derek Kotz from the RMT, Ed Hall suggests that there is a growing interest in banners, he is busier than ever making banners for political groups and movements and has recently collaborated with Jeremy Deller on banners used a the 2013 Venice Biennale.
6. The woman attacked by seagulls (date unknown) by Banksy
This is my final example of textile materials and techniques at Dismaland. A wonderfully observed dressed mannequin being attacked by what I think looks like a swarm of seagulls. It comes after the resent news of a dog being attacked and killed by seagulls and a knee jerk reaction that seagulls need culling. I find the piece so quizzical, there is a narrative that Banksy leaves hanging, letting you make up your mind as to what it is all about.


To sum up then, textiles aren’t just for textile artists they are part of the materials and techniques many contemporary and cutting edge artists use to convey messages and meanings. And if you can get to Dismaland I highly recommend it.

Posted by author: Rebecca Fairley
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4 thoughts on “Textiles at Dismaland

  • What a great response, I didn’t make it to Dismaland unfortunately but I think you have focussed on some of the bits I would have enjoyed most. – thank you

    • For me Becky and Joes film is about how some people try to control what creativity is. This is particularly true for children who are innately creative and willing to take risks but creative/art education tells them they are getting it wrong when they don’t follow the ‘colour by numbers’ schemes in schools. This undermines children’s confidence leading them to believe they are not creative. And therefore not creative as adults. This is just my take. I’d love to hear what other people think the film is about.
      Green of course is a creative colour : )

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