Nnena Kalu, Sculpture, 2013, Mixed Media. Courtesy of the artist and Action Space

Nnena Kalu Weaves a Wild Web of Sellotape and Wool

“She’s a creative force to be reckoned with.” The British artist, who has autism, creates enormous, expressive drawings and brightly-coloured sculptures from everyday household materials. (Louise Benson, Elephant Art)

Link to article in Elephant Art by Louise Benson



Nnena Kalu, Spring Syllabus, 2018, London. Courtesy of the artist and Action Space

Large Sculpture


Nnena Kalu, Studio-Voltaire elsewhere, 2020. Commissioned by Studio Voltaire in partnership with ActionSpace. Courtesy of the artist and Studio Voltaire. Photo by Francis Ware

Art Nests 1

Art Nests 2

Vincent 2

New Nests 2

Michael Fibre

Photos: Sculptures to Carry and Hold, Fibre Arts in Art Therapy, Pamela Whitaker

The expressive potential of the work is not communicated outwardly…but is deeply embedded and embodied, articulated through the awakening of corporeal practices, nuance of gesture, slow repetitive rhythms, and a dense accumulation of subtly modulated surfaces that silently speak of the process of their making…In common with other objects of material culture, I would suggest that it is this embodied non-verbal materiality of the medium that makes textile (and fibre art) a particularly potent vehicle of cultural and artistic expression. Placed in direct proximity to the body, implicated in the practices, rhythms and routines of our everyday experience, and continuously and invisibly negotiating the relationship between self and other, it provides us with what may be a silent yet undoubtedly powerfully convincing testimony (Maxine Bristow, ‘Continuity of Touch -Textile as Silent Witness’ in The Textile Reader by Jessica Hemmings).

junk heart2

Photo: Emma Parker, Junk Heart, Stitch Therapy http://miss-stitch-therapy.blogspot.ie

Binding, knotting, and wrapping strands together to sculpt significance that can be handled and occupied. Compositions of identity that relate to the body and making a place to locate one’s self.

(Cloth and fibre) perform both a material and symbolic role as (they) bear witness to the rituals and rites of passage that accompany us through our passage from birth to death, materialising and expressing otherwise immaterial or abstract entities (Maxine Bristow, ‘Continuity of Touch -Textile as Silent Witness’ in The Textile Reader by Jessica Hemmings).


Photo: Eva Hesse, No Title (1969–70), Latex, Rope, String, Wire, Whitney Museum of American Art (collection.whitney.org)

I cannot be so many things. I cannot be something for everyone … Woman, beautiful, artist, wife, housekeeper, cook, saleslady all these things. I cannot even be myself, nor know what I am’ (Eva Hesse, Diary Entry on January 4, 1964, http://www.tate.org.uk)

Emma Donaldson 1.jpg

Emma Donaldson 2.jpg

Photo: Emma Donaldson, Untitled, The LAB Gallery, Dublin, 2015

danceoftheearth6.jpg danceoftheearth9.jpg

Artists:  Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, Dance of the Earth, Installation, Frankfurter Kunstverein, 2013 http://www.monavatamanuflorintudor.ro

We followed images and streaming from Tahrir square during the Egyptian revolution. These events reminded us what we witnessed in ’89 – ’90 in Bucharest and other similar situations that happened before and after in a larger frame, in so many parts of the world in which people act and question for possibilities to imagine change. This installation act as a metaphor for a fallen tent waiting for someone to occupy it and continue this process. Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor www.monavatamanuflorintudor.ro



Photo: Sculpted Playground by Toshiko Horiuchi  (Photo Credit: http://www.staging.nsgmedia.com)

Donaldson deliberately employs materials that…she refers to  as ‘the stuff of life’: ordinary things of everyday use, things that are banal and mundane. The reason for this is two-fold: first, such materials illustrate the marks of daily wear and tear, the traces of usage that reflect the passing of time; second in Donaldson’s case using these materials as medium becomes a visceral and labour intensive process..(t)he artist’s movements are firmly recorded and easily traceable in the material history of the objects. …The tumour like Untitled is a blend of different patches of fabric, including medical dressing, pieces of hosiery, and muslin cloths, all hand-stitched haphazardly in an effort to contain this growing malignant mass (Emma Donaldson, Exhibition Information, Marysia Wieckiewicz-Carroll

It is my reaction to (the past) that provides the emotional material and impetus for my work; the propelling task is to dismantle the often rigid thoughts and bring them to substance (Emma Donaldson, Irish Arts Review, Summer 2014).



Photo: Dana Barnes, Unspun: Tangled and Fused, Ralph Pucci, NYC

(Fibre arts) perform a fundamental role in negotiating the changing relationship between our inner selves and the world that we inhabit…(Maxine Bristow, ‘Continuity of Touch-Textile as Silent Witness’ in The Textile Reader by Jessica Hemmings).


Photo: Chiharu Shiota, Letters of Thanks, New Art Gallery Walsall, http://www.chiharu-shiota.com, Photo Credit: David Tomlinson

Encased within the woollen mesh are hundreds of hand-written letters of thanks sourced from Japan, each resonant with stories of love, absence, loss or gratitude. The installation tells of friends, families and lovers, all apart for a myriad of reasons (Chiharu Shiota, Dialogues, Wall Street International Art, wsimag.com).


Photo: Chiharu Shiota, Accumulation: Searching for Destination,The New Art Gallery Walsall, UK, Photograph by Jonathan Shaw

These battered and bruised suitcases evoke unknown yet powerful human stories; stories of journeys, of migration, of discoveries, of love and loss… (Chiharu Shiota, Dialogues, Wall Street International Art, wsimag.com).

Chiharu Shiota is a Japanese performance and installation artist best known for creating room-filling, monumental yet delicate, poetic environments. Central to the artist’s work are the themes of remembrance and oblivion, dreaming and sleeping, traces of the past and childhood, and dealing with anxieties (www.arndtfineart.com).



Photo: Rebecca Cross, Fiber Art,  (2009-2010), Double-Edge Dance

margie_gillis_stone cyclone41-1024x683

Photo: Margie Gillis, A Stone’s Poem and The Tornado Project


Photo: Eleanor Lawler, Dublin Live Art Festival, http://www.dublinliveartfestival.com


Photo: Martha Graham, Lamentation, A Portrait of Grieving

Textiles remember. This is not something that we necessarily ask of them, nor is it something we can divert them from doing. They do it regardless. And the memory of the textile is unremittingly democratic: moments of joy and tragedy are recorded on the surface and embedded into the structure of cloth, without permission and often without intention. Textiles remember, in part, because they are hostage to their own fragility. Unlike that of metal or stone, the life span of the textile is not dissimilar to that of our own bodies: newness gradually replaced by wear and tear until worn out. (Jessica Hemmings, The Textile Reader, 2012).

AHamilton_TJ_3237edit copy_580dpi.jpg


Photo: Ann Hamilton, The Event of a Thread, 2012-13, Park Avenue Armory, New York, http://www.annhamiltonstudio.com

The crossings of thread make a cloth. Cloth is the body’s first architecture; it protects, conceals and reveals; it carries our weight, swaddles us at birth and covers us in sleep and in death. A patterned cloth symbolizes state or organization; a red cross stitched onto a white field is the universal sign of aid. A white cloth can be a ghost, a monster or a truce. John Constable described the sky in his paintings as a “white sheet drawn behind the objects.” When we speak of its qualities we speak of the cloth’s hand; we know it through touch. Like skin, its membrane is responsive to contact, to the movement of air, to gravity’s pull. (Ann Hamilton, http://www.annhamiltonstudio.com)


Photo: Yoko Ono, Cut Piece, July 20, 1964, Yamaichi Concert Hall, Kyoto, Japan.

studioasheville-butoh-dance-select-3Photos:  Asheville Butoh Dance, http://www.ashevillebutoh.com

VR-DSC_8644-HR-by-Laurent-Ziegler-1024x681 2.jpg

Photo: Akram Khan Dance Company, http://www.akramkhancompany.net, Vertical Road

…(T)extile as skin or membrane provides on the one hand a very real, tangible point of contact and material boundary and on the other hand a more ambiguous metaphorical boundary between self and ‘not self’ (Maxine Bristow, ‘Continuity of Touch -Textile as Silent Witness’ in The Textile Reader by Jessica Hemmings)

The night before surgery Sam and Kat took me out to dinner and then Kat went to rehearsal and Sam and I went to Ocean Beach late at night. On the firm wet sand at low tide your footprints register clearly before the waves come and devour all trace of passage. I like to see the long line we each leave behind, and I sometimes imagine my whole life that way, as though each step was a stitch, as though I was a needle leaving a trail of thread that sewed together the world as I went by, crisscrossing others’ paths, quilting it all together in some way that matters even though it can hardly be traced. A meander line sutures together the world in some new way, as though walking was sewing and sewing was telling a story and that story was your life (Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby).


faces-portraits-top-1 2


Photos: Louise Bourgeois from Top to Bottom:  1. The Cell XXVI 2. Rejection 3. Why Have You Run So Far Away? 4. Photograph of Louise Bourgeois by Annie Leibovitz

When I was growing up all the women in my house used needles. I have always had a fascination with the magic power of the needle. The needle is used to repair the damage. It’s a claim to forgiveness.

The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair…You repair the thing until you remake it completely.

Expose a contradiction, that is all you need

(Quotations by Louise Bourgeois)



Photos: Sean Gyshen Fennell, Fashioning the Facade, http://www.tyrusclutter.com

Looking closer one finds that the artist (Sean Gyshen Fennell) has broken the picture plane. Actual needles and thread are piercing the surface of the work, creating sutures across the artist’s chest and torso. Stitches encircling the artist’s nipples seem at once sensual and painful. They call attention to a highly sensitive area and stir up questions about sexuality. As the chest is pushed together to form cleavage, the artist binds the gap with a seam of cross stitches. Although there appears to be no physical wound here, there is no escaping the concept of healing in this gesture. The placement of the actual needles in the hand of the artist lets us know he is working to heal his own wounds. (Tyrus Clutter on Sean Gyshen Fennell, Fashioning the Facade, June 2010, http://www.tyrusclutter.blogspot.ie)



Photo: Tilleke Schwarz 1. It Feels Comfy But Will it Last  2. Racing Thoughts,

All my work relates basically to one theme: the oddities of life. The work can be understood as a kind of visual poetry. Every work contains narrative elements. Not really complete stories, with a beginning, a storyline, and an end. On the contrary, the viewer is invited to decipher connections or to create them. (Tilleke Schwarz, http://www.tillekeschwarz.com)

Agnes-Richters-jacket-001 857896_385149374916200_1917977671_o.jpg


Photo: Agnes Richter’s Jacket, The Prinzhorn Collection, Personal Writing Embroidered on a Jacket Made from Asylum Uniforms 1890’s

Nothing is known about when or precisely how Agnes created the jacket, except that she seems to have taken apart her shapeless hospital uniform and reconstructed it into a beautiful and elegant garment. The delicate buttonholes, the cuffs flaring from tightly fitted sleeves, and the peplum (a decorative ruffle attached to the bodice) all offer evidence of her considerable talent as a seamstress. The bluish-grey linen is accentuated by sections of brown felt attached to the collar and parts of the back of the torso. But what makes the jacket so extraordinary and so distinctive are the dozens of lines of text that cover practically every inch, sewn in five colours of yarn and thread that give the impression more of a painting than an everyday garment…. (T)he jacket and its text offer a powerful challenge, reminding us that madness is more code than chemistry, and if we want to understand it, we need native speakers, not just brain scans. (Gail Hornstein, Madness from the Outside In, The Psychologist, British Psychological Society, http://www.thepsychologist.bps.org.uk)

TEXTile landing page

Photo: Artwork by Laura Jo Pierce,  TEXTile Exhibition, Creative Growth Art Centre Gallery, http://www.creativegrowth.org

A thread now most often means a line of conversation via e-mail or other electronic means, but thread must have been an even more compelling metaphor when most people witnessed or did the women’s work that is spinning. It is a mesmerizing art, the spindle revolving below the strong thread that the fingers twist out of the mass of fibers on an arm or a distaff. The gesture turns the cloudy mass of fiber into lines with which the world can be tied together. Likewise, the spinning wheel turns, cyclical time revolving to draw out the linear line of a thread. The verb to spin first meant just this act of making, then evolved to mean anything turning rapidly, and then it came to mean telling a tale. (Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby).