Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"The Narrative Line" An exhibition by Alice Kettle and Bernie Leahy

Before travelling home from Downpatrick on 12th March I took a detour to visit the Island Arts Centre in Lisburn for the last day of an exhibition of textiles by Alice Kettle and Bernie Leahy which is a touring exhibition organised by the Crafts Council of Ireland.

I've seen work by both artists before but was interested to see them both together as they are very different in style and technique although both rely heavily on stitch.

I am a fan of Bernie Leahy's work and marvel at her stitched drawing skills! The image above was taken from Google images and it is quite small so it's hard to see the detail. The piece itself was approx 20 x 30inches if I remember correctly. There were larger stitched drawings, bronze sculptures with stitched components, victorian lockets with stitched drawings and some plaster-dipped children's dresses with stitched drawings. I liked the variety of work and the mix of materials used. I also like the contemporary/conceptual element of her work. If you'd like to see more check out her website at http://www.efiberart.com/

Alice Kettle uses lots more colour and machine-stitching in her work, which is generally larger scaled. I wonder how she manages to manipulate these large canvas-based pieces on her sewing machine? The finished pieces undulate with the heavy stitching, a quality I think adds texture, depth and movement. Her work reminds me of Chagall's paintings, which I saw in Nice, France when I was a student in the late '80's. Alice Kettle also showed paper collages and ceramics in the exhibition. For more of her work see http://www.alicekettle.com/

The Island Arts Centre is one to be proud of where craft, fine art and the community live together happily! It is a large centre with lots of rooms for workshops. On the day I visited 3 or 4 of them were occupied with groups of all ages enjoying a variety of workshops. Naomi Whan teaches a number of textile workshops here (for info on her work see http://craftni.org/directory/maker/naomi-whan)

The centre has at least one (maybe more) artist studios. One of those is currently occupied by artist-in-residence, Andrea McCullough - a ceramic artist. I liked her quirky 'love-potion' bottle and brought one home to see if it works!

The centre also seems to have a vibrant community arts scheme with the resultant work by community groups also on display.

The centre supports local artists through an award/purchase scheme and the collection is displayed throughout. I was delighted to see that textiles feature prominently.

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