Part 5- Folio and Review
Assignment 5 Review- Documenting My Exhibition
Gillian Morris Student No. 511388
Exhibition Statement- “Help me as I am struggling to want to be here”
A Series of Material Statements-Visual Representations of Mental Distress and Recovery (2021) is a group of large-scale mixed media works using screen printing and hand stitching on vintage linen bedsheets. The material qualities of the vintage linen bedsheets and threads are indicative of and help to reinforce the narrative, to tell the story of mental crisis through therapy to mental recovery through their strength, resilience, robustness, and enhanced capacity for repair. The work is autobiographical in nature and depicts real-life circumstances emotionally through the textile artists experiences as a psychologist. The scale of intuitive relating with the materials in process communicate the scale of emotional resonance felt within the therapeutic therapy process itself as a psychologist. Throughout the creative process the textile artist sought to convey her own emotional experiencing, so others can look, to feel to understand something of such experiencing.
The vintage linen bedsheets are imbedded with meaning for the textile artist, of her family’s history based in linen, of a lineage, weighted with provenance, of generations of home and mill workers making linen, of layers of experiencing enmeshed within the material, of personal identity and belonging. The vintage linen bedsheets lent themselves to communicating the narrative, of previous wear and tear, of communicating a range of experiencing through a lifetime and the repetitive need for repair. Of the capacity of the vintage linen bedsheets to encompass pleasant dreams to traumatic nightmares, of bringing comfort, restorative sleep, and relaxation to unravelling despair and spiralling low mood. The aim then is to promote increased insight and understanding of the experiencing of mental distress and of the need for support, compassion, and time, to listen to understand free from labelling, judgement, and recrimination. To help counter the adage man’s inhumanity to man, to afford those struggling with mental ill-health the therapeutic environment to mend and recover. The visual representations from each series of screen-printed imagery with printing inks builds up layers of emotional relating and responding with the vintage linen using colour combinations to best suit the emotional state of either distress or repair. The imagery stemmed from original artwork based upon neural mapping as the basis of all communication and understanding. Ultimately the textile artist sought to express the increased propensity for change, growth, and repair, for positive transformation from mental distress. That said the series invites the viewer to reflect upon mental distress and recovery, of their own emotional response to the sequence and to consider how they can help themselves and others to be more tolerate, understanding, compassionate and kind both self to self and self with other.
The textile artist has utilised ten vintage linen bedsheets as the material basis of the creative work. Each bedsheet was dyed in varying shades of grey to match grey matter which is abundant in the cerebellum, cerebrum and brain stem and represents the core sites of cognitive functioning, information processing through neural connectivity. The original artwork for this project of work stems from research on neuro-networking from neuroimaging techniques to illustrate human identity and the sense of self at its most intrinsic level. Eight vintage linen bedsheets were screen-printed whole, and two bedsheets were cut up and used for the sampling processes through a process of building up layers of print to explore meaning and to demonstrate emotion, one series of three bedsheets represent crisis with print while the other series of five bedsheets represent repair and recovery through print and stitch. The eight whole linen bedsheets are wall mounted as well as hung from the ceiling as a central space to walk through, to fully inhabit to interact with from within the exhibition space.
Gillian Morris Textile Artist October 2021
Scan QR Code for Exhibition Details
Exhibition of Vintage Linen Panels for Wall Hanging and the Central Ceiling Installation
Wasps Exhibition Space, Artist Studio Complex, Hanson Street, Dennistoun, Glasgow
Friday 1st-Sunday 3rd October 2021
From the outset of this exhibition the large-scale vintage linen wall hangings and central installation were set up to take centre stage and to offer the most immersive experience possible for those visiting this exhibition. The exhibition was fully documented as imagery was collected of the exhibition in situ including the use of photographs and video. A range of in-gallery texts and graphics were offered and capitalised upon including the exhibition literature, the exhibition statement and guide, artists statement, artists postcards and business cards which included visual imagery of the material statements which visually represented mental distress and recovery. Each element of the exhibition was fully utilised to interpret and to communicate different types of information. As stated, all the exhibition specific documentation, labelling and literature helped to present the full content of the exhibition, what it was and what it meant to aid the visitors focus on what could be seen in each vintage linen wall hanging and the central installation alongside the sampling processes which were framed and exhibited. Therefore, when documenting the exhibition, it is important to note the role that such labelling had for each individual piece of textile art, of the use of a variety of information and interpretive elements which helped to optimise the visitor’s experience of the textile art and what it represented, of its narrative, context, and meaning which was distributed and communicated. The literature fostered greater curiosity about the textile art on display, it provided guidance for looking closely and seeing critically, the exhibition literature helped visitors access information that increased understanding and offered more meaningful experiences in front of each vintage linen screen printed panel.
It was good to see that the visitors and the resident artists spent time fully surveying all the textile art through walking around each wall hanging and walking within and out with the central installation. There was close observation of the visitors and their own relationship to and with the creative work. It was particularly satisfying to discuss my creative work and processes with those who were interested. I enjoyed hearing the visitors’ own perspectives and their individual reflections concerning the materiality, provenance, narrative and how the imagery throughout the vintage linen panels made them think and feel. For some the topic of mental distress and recovery was something they wished to talk about, to share aspects of their experiencing to be heard. Psychoeducational work was disseminated during the exhibition and references were offered as and when such need was led by the visitors. Most feedback which was elicited from the visitors and resident artists face to face was captured verbally and then recorded manually thereafter. There was so much praise for what I had achieved within this solo show I was quite overwhelmed. Many of the comments received were compliments which simply praised the quality and scale of my textile art, of my ambition and professionalism, of undertaking such a large solo show as my degree show. Some of the resident artists shared their own experiencing of degree shows, they compared their own experiencing with what I had achieved on my own, which was complimentary. There was acknowledgement of the differences of planning for and organising a solo exhibition alone without the shared experience of others within a degree show held within a university. This helped me recognise what I had achieved with the support of my tutor Lizzy Levy, Joanna Kinnersly-Taylor, Textile Artist, and my partner.
Ultimately in researching and selecting the most suitable exhibition venue for my textile art to be shown eased the exhibition process significantly. The exhibition curation was therefore aided as I knew Wasps and the exhibition space within the artist studio complex at Hanson Street so well including the overall surface area, dimensions, and wall area of the exhibition space. I could therefore plan, and organise my creative process, scale of my textile art and the layout of my exhibition to fully inhabit the exhibition space. The central wall running the length of the exhibition space which was opposite to the wall of full-length windows was ideal for the three wall hangings and series of material statements which visually represented mental distress.
The scale of light which cascaded in through the windows and roof highlighted the textile art at its very best. This was also echoed for the central installation as the series of material statements which visually represented mental recovery was set centre stage near the wall of full-scale windows to again catch the light and the attention of those entering and exiting the artist studio complex. The main entrance to the building immediately entered the exhibition space so everyone who entered and left the building saw the exhibition so there was a constant flow of individuals viewing the exhibition. Through reviewing the exhibition in situ and the feedback gleaned I feel that I curated the exhibition well. I developed and created a textile collection of work for show whereby my textile artwork was arranged in ways which would ensure they could be best interpreted, and the related themes and connections understood through how each piece was exhibited with the support of related literature and information.
The exhibition space was measured out including the available areas of wall space to ensure the textile artwork would be well positioned in relation to the overall area. My artwork was laid out temporarily in the first instance before displaying them to ensure each panel was most appropriately placed beside the other panels. This was also to ensure that there was a sense of flow through the exhibition which helped the narrative to be understood and related with in sequence. I felt that the main layout and strongest arrangement for the wall hangings was realised through a linear layout which achieved high impact as the colourful and dramatic material statement pieces which represented mental distress were placed in a row on the main facing wall as visitors entered the exhibition space. Indeed, some visitors mentioned how these wall hangings attracted their eye. The central installation was placed in the main area of the exhibition space which was easily accessible for all who visited which again visitors appeared to enjoy as they inhabited the inside spaces within the installation itself. The way the installation was hung invited further enquiry from within as well as out with the screen-printed and hand stitched vintage linen panelled arrangement. The smaller scale framed sampling processes were grouped together to create one larger shape to best encapsulate the required earlier experimental and exploratory screen printing as part of the development towards the final large scale textile art panels which were often commented upon and queried to aid full recognition of my overall art practice.