Raw Material 9: Sculpted Strands

May 26, 2016


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

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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).

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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)

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

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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).

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