Cut Cloth: contemporary textiles and feminism

I was delighted to be invited to contribute an essay for a publication to accompany the Cut Cloth project.  Cut Cloth contemplates the rise in popularity of art textiles and its impact on its value as a specifically feminist mode of expression.

The project features an exhibition at the Portico Library in Manchester, 9th June – 5th July 2017.

I took the opportunity to reflect on both Shoddy and a previous exhibition that I organised, The Reality of Small Differences. In both, the majority of artists were women (perhaps not surprising for exhibitions featuring textile-based art) and much of their work carried strong feminist themes.

A summary of the essay is below, and once the publication is available I’ll share the details.

Meanwhile, go to the website www.cutcloth.co.uk to read more about this very interesting project, and perhaps come along to the exhibition or one of the events in Manchester. There is, for example, a workshop on 8 July to make an activist hanky to get your message (literally) under someone’s nose!

Meanwhile, here’s what my essay covers:

Disabled women artists are using textiles to challenge, subvert and inform. Their work brings together issues relating to feminism and disability. This was evident in two recent disability arts exhibitions in Leeds, Shoddy and The Reality of Small Differences.

A focus on the work of disabled women artists in those exhibitions reveals themes common in feminist art practice: personal and family histories, narratives of the body, women’s lives, resisting institutional power, fighting inequality.

Textile art and craft has long been part of the background of disabled women’s history, from the workhouse through to the day centre. Textiles are now proving to be expressive media for disabled women artists to challenge assumptions.

Gill Crawshaw

Cut Cloth is led by Sarah-Joy Ford and is supported by Arts Council England, The Portico Library and Whitworth Art Gallery.

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