Some of the works from the fibre-artist group exhibition Un:Seen are so painful and beautiful that they have the ability to move visitors close to tears.
Un:Seen (Gallery M until Sunday, April 7) is an exhibition by 20 members of untethered, a group of fibre artists from New South Wales. Using the theme Un:Seen, the artists were each asked to utilise “fibre as the allegory of the invisible hidden within”. This is the fourth of five sequential exhibitions that the group planned, each forming part of what they call “a poetic interconnected narrative” that will run over five years, concluding with Found Narrative later this year. Their previous exhibitions were entitled Out of Hand, ebb and flow and inTransit.
The name of the group, untethered, implies that the members are unconstrained, free to roam in their minds, or express their views and concerns of whatever is important to them, and in whatever form they wish. By selecting open themes with multi-faceted potential that invites diverse interpretations, the artists have the opportunity to explore a range of human experiences, environmental issues and political situations, and create meaningful works that go well beyond the decorative.
It is certainly apparent from the works displayed in this exhibition that, while working with a common theme, they have been given free rein to their individual ideas, passions and concerns. The works are very diverse in form, materials, techniques and subject matter. Yet, as an exhibition, they form a coherent whole in which some aspect of life, not normally apparent to us, is exposed and explored.
Some of the artists reveal private histories, drawing upon personal experiences, memories and relationships, some of them confronting, such as experiences of domestic violence – surely the ultimate betrayal – or the loss of someone close.
They also explore the histories, experiences, and relationships of others – sometimes those who share the artist’s experience of traumatic events.
Others focus upon the experiences of people living in conditions that are in sharp contrast to our own, such as refugee children, the innocence of the visual images presented belying the reality of the perilous circumstances in which they live.
The exhibition catalogue is a treat with thoughtful statements and beautiful words augmenting the artworks. While some articulate the ideas that underlie the more abstract or conceptual works, others are, like many of the works, so deeply personal that the artist may hint at painful aspects of life without explicit revelation of the nature of the experience.
While the works are diverse, they all share certain commonalities that extend beyond the obvious materiality of textiles. What emanates from all of them is a strong emotive element – some works – and words – are so moving and thought-provoking that you may feel yourself close to tears.
By exposing that which is normally hidden, these artists demonstrate clearly to us how textile arts have the power to reveal and communicate deep and profound ideas to their viewers.
Cathie Griffith’s The Gift Of A Ring