At the weekend I visited Alice Kettle’s exhibitions, Threads and more threads, which are running simultaneously at The Winchester Discovery centre and The Candida Stevens gallery in Chichester.
I went to the Winchester Discovery centre first and the first piece I looked at was in the cafe and is 16.5 metres long and 3m high, a very impressive piece called ‘Looking forward to the past’. When viewed from a distance it looks like a huge painting, it’s only when you get close up you see all the stitches and embroidery which has been done on a massive scale. It was not part of the exhibition as it has been in place there for several years, but it was a wonderful taster for the pieces displayed in the gallery.
On show in the gallery was Alice’s debut piece, ‘Sea’, which is the first in her new series of work, ‘Thread bearing witness’ which is about displaced people. You can find out more HERE
Alice Kettle- Sea Winchester Discovery centre
Detail of Alice Kettle’s ‘Sea’
Alice’s work is very thought provoking, and nearly all her pieces tell a story. Most are large scale works with lots of machine stitching. The textiles are like abstract collages, from a distance, a painting, up close, an artwork in threads. She uses a lot of metallic threads all overlaid with each other which gives a real lustre and dimension to her pieces and also has the effect of changing the colour of the work in different lights or from different viewing points. The stitch marks and colours blend together, looking like paint brushed onto canvas. She uses many different types of thread, from fine metallics to thicker wools or couched threads to outline figures or animals, making them look like pen lines on the fabric.
This was one of my Favorite pieces- Paradise Lost, her feelings and interpretation of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power station disaster in Japan. I found this piece very poignant , I don’t know whether it was because I remember the disasters that befell Japan so I could relate to it more? I liked the little japanese floating islands and the pop of the red thread on the muted background.
Downstairs at the Discovery centre there was another exhibition running called ‘Stitching stories- making common ground’. It had works by various artists “using stitch and mark making to express ideas on the themes of passage and movement of people and objects and the making of community”
Top row, Left to right- ‘Battle of Narvick’ Vanessa Rolf, ‘Looking through to freedom’ Margaret Lawson, ‘Motherland’ Yvonne Johnson-Mills, ‘Sea Currents’, A-untitled, B-untitled Alice Kettle.
Bottom row- ‘Displacement’ Ann Wheeler, ‘Transportation’ Alison Hamblin
There were lots of different works, using a variety of techniques that covered the theme very well. It was very interesting to see how people had interpreted the theme and the ideas that they had come up with.
There was also the chance to take part in the ‘Stitch a tree project’ (you can find more details about this project in the link further up in the text). This project is asking you to stitch a tree which will then be made into a large piece of work by Alice Kettle entitled ‘Forest’ which will be auctioned and the money raised used to support refugee charities.
The Candida Stevens gallery in Chichester was a lot smaller and unfortunately I was unable to stay for the talk which Alice was giving at the gallery. There were several smaller, 3D pieces on show which I found interesting and one of Alice’s collages showing how she visualises her ideas before starting on a piece. ‘Collage’- Alice Kettle
I spent a while looking at this piece as I was very intrigued with her layers and techniques of putting her ideas together.
‘Queen Henrietta Maria’- Alice Kettle
This was my favorite piece at the Chichester gallery. It was very vibrant and I was drawn to it as soon as I walked into the room. It looked like some of the background was printed and then there were all sorts of different threads, fabrics and odds and ends incorporated into the piece.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Alice’s work. The tiniest details in a large piece could draw you in and seeing the stitchwork up close was amazing and really made you appreciate how much work and time must go into each of her pieces. I liked the abstract aspect of her work, it reminded me of art journaling techniques and I enjoyed reading the story behind each piece.
All photos taken by me at the exhibits.