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02: Collect 2019: Softness is Craft

In our second episode, Softness is Craft, we review our trip to Collect 2019. The art fair is run by the Craft Council and takes place annually at the Saatchi Gallery. It showcases makers of all disciplines bound by the word "craft".

Collect comprises of individual galleries showcasing artists in a setting that sits in a strange space between gallery and shop, (I guess you could argue any exhibition is a shop to the super rich) these areas are small and sometimes ill curated, busy and other times beautifully considered and well executed, our favourite being Craft Scotland, with special mention to Petronilla Silver. Upstairs was Collect Open a showcase of individual makers in a more spacious curated area - we enjoyed the innovative hanging methods and framing of textiles pieces by Jan Bowman and Katherine Swailes.

In this episode we discuss the role of Collect as a exhibition and shop, what role this plays on the pieces and the audiences that engage with them. How this adds o…

01: Freddie Robins: Softness is Power

Hand of Good, Hand of God, domestic machine knitted and seamed, Freddie Robins, 1997

It's an absolute pleasure to welcome to our first podcast, the artist Freddie Robins. Robins uses juxtapositions between how knitting is and could be seen, unravelling preconceptions of femininity, motherhood, death and the body, and twists the soft into evil and back again, imbuing a sense of power in using metaphor in knitting. As Catherine Dormer, artist, has said, "Robins offers a challenge to the notion of knitting as a passive, benign activity."

"You can feel the human interaction with the materials."

"People collect things they see value in."

Access the episode:

 Notes and references in the episode

00:02:21 & 00:07:59 - Donna Wilson's Tormented Textiles Talk ~ Read more and hear the audio ~

Freddie mentioned the Crafts Magazine Power List and how it contained no one specific person on the list who worked and made textiles, only those that talked about it or designed it.

Textiles makers not present but there is writing about textiles. Grayson Perry uses his hands to make his clay objects but with textiles he designs it digitally, essentially he does not "think through the medium".

00:11:50 - Clothworkers Centre ~

Not public facing, V&A Textiles spread throughout the V&A - one day a dedicated department like ceramics has would be incredible for the specialism.

00:14:15 - Louise Bourgeois and Georgia O'Keefe ~ Briefly mentioned

00:17:32 - Kiki Smith and Sonia Delaunay ~ Briefly mentioned

How a staple gun in a tapestry, squint, begs the question of whether that would have happened to a canvas?

00:22:04 - Anni Albers ~ Exhibition currently on at the Tate Modern, London

00:30:50 - Hand of Good, Hand of God, Freddie Robins, 1997,

Pictured above. Robins used the constraints of the domestic knitting machine to make the largest glove she could and pushed the possibilities of the machine by adding smaller ones on the end of each finger.

00:36:40 - Someone else’s dream, Freddie Robins, 2014-16,

00:41:16 - Anyway, Freddie Robins, 2002,

Not everyone knew it was knitted, in a way there was no trapping within the construction.

01:00:30 - Who's scared of the soft stuff?, Freddie Robins, Paper presented at RCA Cross College Symposium, Feminisms and Materialisms. PDF of Jean's notes of quotations available here:

01:05:20 & 01:11:20 - Forearmed and Forewarned, Freddie Robins, 2002,

01:15:20 - Tarzan, Knitting Pattern, Patricia Roberts, circa 1980s

01:17:20 - Lisa Anne Auerbach,

Jumpers that talk back - an art book was made that contained patterns for the jumpers. It was not found in knitting shops but rather in fancy art shops.


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