Weavers Unlimited at the Colborne Art Gallery
Akimblog June 17, 2014
I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I'm a total sucker for textiles. Absolutely love the stuff, and it's easy to miss the fact that textiles literally changed the world, as anthropologist Elizabeth Barber so eloquently noted in her book Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years. The world is woven together and the proof is in the fact that our everyday metaphors are hugely textiles-based.
Marianne Heggtveit, Seven Over – One Under/One Over – Seven Under, 2013, tencel
Currently exhibiting at the Colborne Art Gallery, Weavers Unlimited is a textile collective situated in eastern Ontario around the city of Ottawa. There's nothing radical about the work they're showing, nothing that seeks out to intentionally subvert or undermine. Their work honours the warp and weft of things, and concerns itself with the pattern (as philosopher Gregory Bateson spent much of his career enquiring into) that connects. Traditional? Yes, but rising out of the very real workings of the world.
Mary Morrison's Summer Fields may look merely like lovely layers of varying patterns and interesting colours stacked on atop the other, but I know otherwise. I live rural and this is my landscape; these are the farm fields I know and see every day, the myriad patterns of the agriculture that keeps us fed, and the agribusiness that keeps our gas tanks full. Marianne Heggtveit's Seven Over – One Under/One Over – Seven Under may make titular reference to the complexities of a very particular weave and look for all the world like a very long blue scarf periodically striated with horizontal bands of divisive colour, but I see something more cosmological, something remarkably akin to the visual report of a star's light spectrum punctuated by lines of emission and absorption of different elements at different wavelengths. Francesca Overend's Melodic Influences may overtly have everything to do with music (arguably a companion to textiles, the aural variant on the notion of the warp and weft), but I see shimmer, vibration, and ripple, like the record of something seismic coursing vertically up and down the linen of which it is wove.
Sure, I'm pushing it, plaiting a seeing of things that surely were never specifically intended by the artists of Weavers Unlimited. It's what we human do, and do exceptionally well, I might add. Anything less would make for a very meager world indeed. After all, the making of metaphor is dependent on what we bring to the table. Or, rather, the tablecloth.
Colborne Art Gallery: http://www.thecolborneartgallery.ca/
Weavers Unlimited: Moving On continues until July 6.
Gil McElroy is a poet, artist, independent curator, and freelance art critic. He is the author of Gravity & Grace: Selected Writing on Contemporary Canadian Art, four books of poetry, and Cold Comfort: Growing Up Cold War. McElroy lives in Colborne, Ontario with his wife Heather. He is Akimblog's roving Ontario correspondent and can be followed @GilMcElroy on Twitter.