Student work: A travelling exhibition
I made it at last, and have just finished my final textile degree course. It’s an important moment and one I wished to share by exhibiting three large textile and paper mache pieces.
I was concerned that white walls of a gallery wouldn’t be appropriate as I couldn’t visualise them as a hanging. I always considered them as part of a landscape, to blend and mould into the ground. I strongly felt that I needed to go full circle and return them to the source of my inspiration; The Thames Estuary. Here, I hoped my audience could gain a clearer understanding of my thoughts and concepts.
The logistics of organising a two site visit with a group of people and three large fragile pieces was difficult. It was dependant on the weather, (50 M.P.H winds cancelled a previous trip) and tide as the coastline at Hoo disappears at High Tide! Finally, on a bright, still August day it was all systems go and we set off to the first site; Rainham Marsh Essex.
I wasn’t personally able to access the marshes but a few brave members of the team traversed it to get closer to the group of abandoned concrete bargees; my original source of inspiration. It was slightly nerve wracking as my fragile, paper mache and threads art work, was being carried across boggy marsh land! The team became an active part of the exhibition as driftwood was found and the piece was carefully arranged on top. They commented that by participating on location enabled them to understand where my ideas originated.
Next stop, the Hoo Peninsula. Again everyone was involved in carrying two large bulky artworks to the coastline a site of worn compressed pebbles. A boulder was procured and my ‘Pebbles’ piece was draped over and a rusty chain continued my theme of restriction. I never considered using the environment as an aid to displaying my work but was surprised how it enhanced them. The Pebbles piece appeared to flow like water over a boulder, whist the ends merged and become part of the shoreline.
At each site I briefly outlined sources of inspiration and connections I had made with the environment and its history. I enjoyed my audience’s different interpretations, noticing things I hadn’t previously considered. I believe many of these shared views came about by being on location.
By returning to these sites a connection was made between my work and the environment, not just visually but with its past. I sensed my audience could grasp this too, as they experienced the location first hand.
We enjoyed the way the exhibition was loose and unplanned as we improvised to see what would happen. I was delighted with the outcome and the opportunity it gave me to share not only my work but these fascinating locations.
Reconnecting my work with the site felt like placing the last piece of jigsaw puzzle in place and similarly this exhibition was the last satisfying piece that completes my degree.