A 12-Year, Award-Winning, Global, Collaborative Embroidery Project by Kirstie Macleod
The idea of uniting people and women from all over the world.
Forst stitches were in 2009, since then it has travelled around the world.
OCASA event had the artist Kirstie Macleod talk about her work which I had the pleasure of attending recently.
British textile artist Kirstie Macleod began the Red Dress Project in 2009. Initially, exhibiting the dress as an installation, wearing it as she sat in a clear cube working on the embroidery. During the next 12 years the dress took on a life of its own, becoming a platform for women, particularly refugees, the impoverished and those living in war torn countries, to express their feelings and tell their stories. Embroiderers from across the world used stitches that reflected both their culture and country, making the dress an international and multi-cultural piece of textile art.
Tate Liverpool is showing a collection of Lucian Freud’s work throughout the seven decades of his working life in the Real Lives exhibition.
Lucian Freud was a German-born artist who lived between 1922-2011 and has been described as one of the leading figurative painters of the twentieth century. He explored portraiture in-depth and painted from life getting his models to pose in the studio for him. Some of the models sat for him for months meaning he developed a very intense relationship with them. He also painted self-portraits with the same intensity.
Freud started by painting himself and his neighbours in the post-war period. You can already see the high attention to detail in his paintings. In Man with a Thistle, paint was in short supply after the war and so he used it sparingly, reportingly mixing it with household paints to make it go further.
Out of all the portraits on show, this is one that resonated with me. It is an artist starting out on their journey and somehow you feel that in the painting. By bringing the thistle in detracts from the figure slightly and I think this shows some of Freud’s own insecurities. He doesn’t want to be the star of the painting, it is almost a painting of a thistle that happens to have a man in the background.
When Freud starts painting other people like Charlie Lumley, Kitty Garman, Bella Freud, Kai Boyt, Lucie Freud and Celia Paul the person becomes the star, unlike the earlier self-portrait. Freud seems much more at ease painting other people.
What struck me about the girl with the white dog, in particular, is the level of detail. When you look closely at the dressing gown cord, you see how intensely he looked whilst painting. The textures he has created with the fabrics too makes them come alive. So even though the colours are still very muted, the painting has vibrance.
Freud often turned his attention to plants during periods of difficulty with relationships. My favourite piece in the whole exhibition is Two Plants. I was drawn to it as perhaps I resonate as I often struggle with people and turn to nature and plants for comfort. Like his portraits, the amount of detail is incredible and it must have been a very meditative experience painting all the individual leaves.
Liverpool Mountain (Rondinone, 2018) is a 10-metre high sculpture situated outside Tate Liverpool in the heart of Liverpool’ historic waterfront. It consists of five vertically stacked rocks painted in bright fluorescent colours. The rocks are balanced to appear to defy gravity and contrasts strongly against the more muted colours of the Liverpool buildings and sky. It is thought to be reminiscent of ancient totems and has a land art feel to it too. It has taken a natural material of rock and placed it in a very unnatural position with manmade colour added.
Ugo Rondinone is a Swiss-born artist now based in New York. Liverpool Mountain is part of his Seven Magic Mountains project in Nevada and Miami.
The work has been described as being “instragammable” and I can see why. It is imposing, seeks attention and cries out for its photo taken.
It contrasts with other land art I have seen and am aware of. This isn’t made to feel part of the natural world, the opposite. To me, it suggests a reflection on human’s interference with the land. The artist has taken natural rocks and stripped away all their natural beauty to make something that looks artificial. I think this also plays into the “Instagram” appeal as isn’t that what we do on social media. We take natural beauty and cover it in artificial filters to the point sometimes the original person no longer resembles their online image.
Rondinone, U. (2018). Liverpool Mountain. [Sculpture].
I had the pleasure of attending the launch event for Holding Time which is an experimental art project around motherhood and breastfeeding.
I was interested in the event because of the subject of motherhood and breastfeeding which is very close to me, but also because the title intrigued me, especially with looking in-depth at the ways artists use and portray time for this unit.
The project involves photographs, animations, conversations, presentations and a lot of collaboration and aims to inspire a new generation of families to find their way back to breastfeeding, which is as old as humans themselves.
There are different ways the concept of time is interwoven into the work. There is a moving animation of Breastfeeding mothers that evokes images of an ancient breastfeeding circle.
There are also the photographs that are incredibly powerful themselves as a rich tapestry of diversity and variety in breastfeeding. The idea that this photo captures a very intimate moment of time between mother and child.
There is also a deeper exploration of time. Becoming a mother can sometimes make women outsiders to “normal time”. A woman can go from working full time and having a very time defined role to having their world turned upside down. Breastfeeding still even in 2021 makes it difficult for some women to return to the world of work, they can lose part of their identity and with it feel like linear time has stopped for them.
I find the technique describe by the artist Lisa Creagh fascinating.
Each mother was photographed every four seconds. These stills were then used to create short sequences, animated in ‘realtime’. The use of one frame per four seconds disrupts the time illusion typically created through the acceleration of 24 frames per second. The Cosmatesque Timepiece offers a PreIndustrial alternative to our linear timekeeping through a scale-based timecode that grows as time ‘passes’.
This ‘right-brained clock’ is based on an ancient Cosmatesque design, found on the floor of the Sistine Chapel contextualises the breastfeeding mothers within an older decorative tradition, recontextualising motherhood and breastfeeding in particular as an active, rather than passive activity, by disrupting the dominant western understandings of time.