Welcome to the blog of Spike Dennis; an artist and sometime curator. Trained in London Spike has exhibited widely, from London to Los Angeles, and has delivered projects from Cardiff to Stockholm, for organisations including the Illustration Research network and Cardiff Design Festival amongst Others.
I came across this great little video interview with Erin M. Riley the other day. I’m very familiar with Erin’s work and have had the pleasure of exhibiting alongside her in a couple of shows over the last year or so but I hadn’t seen this interview before.
For those of you who don’t know her work, Erin produces hand woven tapestries from photos that might otherwise be associated with the likes of Snapchat or Tumblr posts. Imagery often includes semi-naked women, used condoms and drug paraphernalia.
I grew up on the internet, so for me nudity is very normal, and when I was on AOL and when I was on these early chatroom things there was always this nudity, and maybe I am really desensitized to it and I am very much not shocked by it. I do know that it’s shocking but I don’t intend it to be. I intend it to be more like: “This is what’s going on!”
As an artist who also grew up on the internet and now works with textile based material processes along with contemporary (often explicit) content sourced via the internet I find I can relate to a lot of what Erin says in the video above. I was particularly interested her comments about the medium of the work removing the work from the pornographic realm.
Whilst the response of others to some of my work can be that of shock and disgust it’s good to hear that I’m not alone in my attitude and approach towards the content that I’m using as source material for my work.
Embroidered photographs aren’t a new thing; in fact there are quite a few artists combining stitch and photography at the momennt. I do like a well executed animated GIF though and these images by Japanese artist Mana Morimoto combine this digital medium with embroidered photographs to great effect.
I don’t know much about this artists work but I really like what I’ve seen on her Tumblr page so far. As I understand it she uses images found via Google search for her embroidered photographs which she then prints off, re-interprets with thread, and then digitally scans the resulting image.
I’ve been tinkering with some different grounds as I look to develop some new work. In this instance I have been playing with plastic canvas as it offers some structural qualities that can’t so easily be achieved with fabric. Unlike raw linen though it isn’t available in such fine count. This particular example works out at about 10 stitches per inch.
A new issue to consider when working with this plastic canvas is how to finish the edges. Unlike fabric it can’t be wrapped around a board to be stretched and mounted and you wouldn’t really want any of the material showing. Common consensus seems to be that an overcast stitch or whip stitch should be used to finish the edge of the material or to join two pieces. I’m not quite sure if this will work for what I have in mind but I’m going to give it a go with a couple of test pieces.
‘Like it or Not’ is a single by Australian indie band Architecture in Helsinki. I actually own one of their early albums so I’m surprised to have only just come across this video for ‘Like it or Not’.
The video has been produced by fellow Australians Maricor Maricar who are well known for their graphic style of embroidery. They combine illustrative and typographic elements with embroidery to great effect.
I’ve only ever tinkered with animating embroideries on a very small scale to create GIFs and the like. Whilst the elements in this video are relatively simple in appearance there is clearly a lot of work that has gone in to it.
“Oracle”, Mixed media including goat skin, stones and wool
Muriel Decaillet Textile Artist
Muriel Decaillet is a textile artist from Geneva, Switzerland, who works with textiles and creates vibrant multimedia installations. She says that she aims to “express emotions and sketch intimate representations, grazing the universe of femininity and its complexity“.
Muriel’s installations combine traditional two dimensional embroidered canvases with elements that creep out into the space exploring the architecture of their surroundings, often making use of a diverse range of materials. Her work investigates the roots of humanity, our bestial nature, the mystique surrounding our deities and related matriarchal themes that stem from some of these sources of interest.
“Griffons”, Wool on Canvas
These themes can be seen visualised through her use of bestial references to mythical creatures, a repeated use of red thread or yarn, and the use of dolls/female figures in her installations. The use of anthropomorphic mythological creatures is particularly of interest to me in as much as I have used related motifs to explore aspects of our bestial nature.
“Sphinx”, Wool on Canvas
Detail: Out of the Shadows”, mixed media installation
I really like the look of Muriel’s installation “Out of the Shadows” which aims to question different aspects of female identities and makes use of some interesting material combinations. It the centre of the work is a giant day embroidered lampshade which is embellished with laces, hooks, and stockings, and around the lampshade, elements with strong erotic connotations occupy space in a play of shadow and light.
She says that this installation readily references myths and tales, as an exploration of the human psyche through imagined landscapes, and that “all parts of the work present a field of investigation relating to symbols, taboos, perception and vitality of female sexuality and, further, to those of female identity in general”.
I’ve been assisting Layla Holzer with production of her latest film project, Punch and Judy.
We previously collaborated to produce a traditional Punch and Judy glove puppet show as a part of the Pack of Wolves’ Once Upon Again exhibition. You can view a video of that performance here.
Layla’s latest interpretation of Punch and Judy combines live performance with puppetry to explore themes of gender conflict and patriarchy. You can see a an image of Layla dressed as Punch wielding her phallic club above.
As well as being behind the camera for this project I also provided the irritating nasal voice for Punch. You can listen to a snippet of my audio below.