Yesterday I went to Runcorn County Court. Runcorn is a dump. It is a town centre in decay surrounded by a ring road and dominated by the Bridge over the river Mersey. The court is in a dismal shopping centre on the outskirts. But it turns out Runcorn has a theatre and arts centre which I did not know about until last week, The Brindley. It was recommended to me for the cafe ( which in fact is pleasant but unremarkable), but when I went to the website for directions I discovered it had not one, not two, but three textile art displays on. Who knew.
I checked with the gallery staff that it was OK to to take photos for the blog and got the go ahead so I can show you that:
There was a cabinet of work by Val Jackson who makes flat, miniaturized versions of clothes.
And a cabinet of artists books by Sarah Morpeth inspired by a film I had never heard of; 'I know where she is going', with the she admitted being obsessed for years. Each book investigates a theme or charcater from the film. The light on the glass made it hard to phtograph her stuff - better pictures are here in her gallery.
Then, upstairs this room of work by four artists. .
Debbie Smyth builds thread pictures by wrapping around pins to make lines. This representation of the bridge and the small terraced houses under it is about seven feet tall. She also had smaller pieces. I liked that there was a display board downstairs where children from local schools had made their own versions using this method. See more of her work here and read her blog.
Clare Lane manipulates photos of the local area and prints onto canvas then partially stitches over them.
Carolyn Kirton draws stitch pictures of her teenagers and captures their attitudes and body language. I liked her titles which included one entitled 'She well proper had a go at me and stuff'.' and 'Its not my job'.
Finally. Laura Mc Cafferty was walking past a local shop selling second hand furniture from house clearances. She saw in the window some old photos of the town not for sale and went to investigate. That resulted in this piece of the shop owner Maggie Fowler
and this one of the lady who died and her photographs.
I had the whole room to myself and was able to just reflect in the quiet surrounded by the art. I was really struck by the fact that that in such a superficially uninspiring place they had found inspiration not just for one piece but a series. I was also struck by the way that each artist had focused right down to one technique and one theme.
I would love to know if artists who produce such cohesive bodies of work find it naturally to choose only one method and to produce piece after piece different to but closely similar to the others. Or is it something they have had to work hard to focus down onto? If the latter, how did they do it? How did they choose what not to do? Have they other series that I have not seen or are they content to keep doing the same kind of work? I may have to contact them and other artists who appear to me to be very focused to see if they can shed light on this as it is fascinating me. Do any of you have views on how you do or do not limit the techniques and themes you use?
Finally, I was struck by the way in which each artist made a large sample of their work which was hung on the walls specifically for viewers to touch.