Kaunas Textile Biennial: Part 2

After a ridiculously busy month or so these blog posts about my adventures in Lithuania have been a long time coming but here’s part two for your delectation:

During the Kaunas Biennial the M. Žilinskas Art Gallery is playing host to the competitive exhibition of textile art. The exhibition features work by a number of well known artists working across a a wide breadth of contemporary textile practices. There were far too many fantastic works on display for me to cover them all so I’ve just picked out a few of my highlights here.

The main gallery downstairs had been dedicated to this exhibition and a large number of works were on display throughout the museum scattered amongst the permanent collection. Of particular interest to me were the embroideries by Virginie Rochetti and Nina Bondeson.

Virginie Rochetti is a French artist who had produced a large machine embroidered work exploring the violence that she feels is prevalent within modern society. I was particularly drawn in to her work by the text which the artist had produced to accompany the work as I drew a number of comparisons between her approach to her practice and my own work. Rochetti, however, talks about it much more eloquently than I ever could though:

Embroidery is a a repetitive activity that can drive one wild. A fantasy of total control over a fleeting and soft material.Soft and delicious. A fantasy of sensuality at the prick of a needle point.

The Swedish artist, Nina Bondeson, exhibited a series of embroideries which document the loose narrative of imaginary characters that she has created such as the dog Hyperion and his master, the self taught linguistic researcher, Jeremy Adagio. Although I have dipped into the world of embroidery myself recently I’m no expert, but I would guess that Bondeson’s work, unlike Rochetti’s, were hand, rather than machine embroidered. Her three dimensional embroidered dog was particularly interesting. Rather than embroidering the character, Bondeson created a three dimensional version of her charcter which she embellished with embroidered references to the narratives she had dreamed up for him.

Both of these artists provided me with plenty of inspiration for my own work with regard to the embroideries that I’ve been undertaking recently.

Also on display in the main gallery was work by the British artist Alice Kettle. Despite being an admirer of Kettle’s work I had not had the chance to see it in the flesh until now. This piece is a stitched portrait of the Kilkenny sorceress Alice Kyteler. The test tubes shown in front of the work represent ‘the alchemy of thread and the beginning of the magic of making’.

Kettle’s work was certainly one of the most striking works on display at the M. Žilinskas Art Gallery and is quite something to behold as it is so tactile and sumptuous. The magic of Kettle’s making was almost positively palpable.

One of the most striking works on display was the installation entitled Lure from the Red Thread Legend series by Chinese-American artist Beili Liu.

The ancient Chinese legend of the red thread tells that when children are born, invisible red threads connect them to the ones whom they are fated to be with. Over the years of their lives they come closer and eventually find each other, overcoming the distance, cultural, and social divides, between them.

This installation of thousands of spiralled coils of red thread appeared very delicate. Each coil was pierced by a sewing needle connecting it to one of the other coils within the installation beautifully illustrating the old Chinese legend.

These are just some of my personal highlights from the exhibition at the M. Žilinskas Art Gallery but there a few links to the websites of the artists mentioned above as well as some of the other exhibitors below. The Biennial actually continues until the 4 December so if you do find yourself in that particular part of Eastern Europe in coming weeks then you’ve still time to see all of this wonderful work.

Interesting and Useful Links:
Nina Bondeson (Sweden): http://ramverk.se/vardagsbilder/nina/
Kristina Cyziute (Lithuania): http://kristatex.ten.lt
Amelie Brisson-Darveau (Canada): www.ameliebd.com
Ainsley Hillard (UK): www.ainsleyhillard.com
Tonje Hoydahl Sorli: www.tonjesorli.com
Alice Kettle (UK): www.alicekettle.com
Beili Liu (China/USA): www.beililiu.com
Katya Oicherman (Israel): www.oicherman.com
Virginie Rochetti (France): http://v.rochetti.blog.free.fr
Tilleke Schwarz (The Netherlands): www.tillekeschwarz.com