Maybe it’s the heat, or maybe it’s my age, but I was a bit disappointed with the Chelsea show this year.
I noted two years ago the increase in installation displays, and that trend continues. Lord knows I’m the last one to criticise adventurous use of materials – I’ve experimented with paper, plastic, metal, plaster, stone, wood and shells as well as fibre in my work. But then I’m not doing a degree in textile design. When a display includes nothing that could be remotely defined as a textile I start to think that maybe they just ran out of space in the fine art exhibition area opposite.
Also, as a visitor I like to know the story behind the work. What was the inspiration or theme? A sketchbook showing the development of ideas is always fascinating. Although many of the displays had “look books”, too often they didn’t add much information – just more images. And a table of apparently random samples is not really presenting work in its best light.
Still, enough of the gripes. Here are my favourites based on my personal prejudices.
Charlotte Hanford had one of the most coherent displays, including an explanation that she was inspired by launderettes, including the circular machine drums. Her weaving even included lint gathered from machines in various launderettes!
Another imaginative display by Tracy Chu consisted of stitched vessels made from glow-in-the-dark thread, which had to be viewed with torches in black boxes.
Jessica Grace Adam was inspired by corals and sea urchins.
And Jee Yeon Yang’s structural stitched pieces had a similar feel.
I also liked Nadya Prajoga’s delicate stitchery on sheer fabric.
Cherry Moxon‘s sculptural knits in earthy colours spoke of decay and erosion…
…while Mengfan Zhou used more unconventional plastic tubing.
Given my own recent experience of working with metal, I was interested to see India Badby combining metal and textiles, and some of the techniques looked very familiar!
Alice Gordon combined print and pleat, including some origami techniques.
And Haewon Youn’s printed pieces represented measures of emotion.
The Chelsea textile design degree show runs until 24 June.