Rook & Raven is currently presenting ‘Punctured Perspectives’, the first UK solo show of British artist Kirstie MacLeod. The artist is known for her unique and contemporary approach to the fine art of embroidery, juxtaposing the skill with the sensibilities of contemporary fine art, to create an altogether unique practice.
MacLeod experiments with the idea of garments and dresses representing the self. Currently based in Somerset, Macleod has exhibited widely at shows such as Art Dubai and institutions such as the Royal Academy of Arts, The ICA and The Barbican in London and has received numerous international art prizes such as the Valcellina Award for Textiles, Italy and the British Council. The artist’s work can also be seen in many notable private and commercial collections in London, and abroad. Astrid Bernadotte of Rook & Raven was kind enough to give Artlyst a tour of Kirstie MacLeod’s latest work at the gallery, including ongoing projects such as the decade-long Unesco supported global embroidery project ‘Barocco’.
“This is the artist’s first UK solo show, the central work ‘Barocco’ is a performance piece set to last ten years, starting in 2009, she had the first performance at Art Dubai, it’s going to finish in 2019, and so far the dress has been to fifteen different countries – and had fifty different embroiderers contribute to it, so it’s more of a collaborative piece. It’s sponsored by the British Arts Council, so it’s going to continue to lots of new locations, as well as Unesco world heritage sites as well.
MacLeod has asked for female tribes to embroider anything that they wish, as long as it represents their identity and their culture, so you have areas from South Africa, Egypt, Mumbai – there’s a whole list – so every single patch-work element is from a different country, a different tribe, but always female. The idea is that by 2019 the work is going to be so heavily embroidered that it will be able to stand up on its own inside this perspex cube, becoming a sculpture in its own right.
The artist used the cube as part of the performance piece, and at the opening of the show was actually inside the box, continuing to embroider, in fact ‘Punctured Perspectives’ gives us an alternative way of looking at the practice of embroidery. People see it as ‘feminine’, ‘peaceful’, a methodological process, but an alternative, is that it’s quite a violent action, so in a number of works Macleod has used a drill to create violent holes in the canvas’s of her work, to magnify that aspect of it.
There is also the motif of the circle, which relates to the methodical process of the practice, with it becoming a form of meditation through repetition. In fact there are monks who have created the same circles with black ink – and through the repetition – they actually used them as their own version of a crystal ball, as the repetition of the act caused a form of meditation, and a focus of perception, so the artist has created her own versions of these as well.
The artist’s diptych ‘Murmer I & II’, 2015, is actually made from patterns created by bird formations, and if you get up close – again you can see that they’ve been made via embroidery, so we have the patterns created by puncturing again, and it’s a crazy thing to look at as the image kind of vibrates as well. With the artist’s ‘Quantum Series’ 2014, we have repetition again, the purity of embroidery, the nature of repetition, with ceramic dipped thread.
Finally we come to ‘THÍCH QUẢNG ĐỨC’, 2014, this work is actually the name of a Buddhist monk, who in 1963 immolated himself in protest of how Buddhist monks were being treated by the Vietnamese, the artist has dipped the work into water – originally his name on paper – and it’s created an effect that’s representative of the fire, as a homage to him.”
Kirstie MacLeod: Punctured Perspectives – Rook & Raven – until 4 April 2015
Photos: P A Black © Artlyst 2015 all rights reserved