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Living Cloth

May 22, 2018 - July 8, 2018

Image: Violet Faigan, Lost Cap Technique (2003) Ink on fabric with pens

Living Cloth
Textile Works from the Wallace Arts Trust Collection

22 May – 8 July
Ground Floor Galleries and Entrance Foyer
Curated by Harriet Matilda Rogers, 2018 Wallace Arts Trust Summer Intern

Cloth inhabits the spaces of our everyday lives. It surrounds our bodies and fills our homes, enclosing, softening, decorating, and demarcating space. Layers of cloth are often all that separate the public from the private, and the exterior from the interior.

We live with cloth, but it is itself a living medium. It moves and changes with organic flexibility, bending, folding, and draping. It fades and stains, is torn and mended, shaped and warped by light, dirt, wear, the human body, and the passage of time. It is a tangible record of past lives, and a means of passing traditions from one generation to the next.

Drawn from the collection of the Wallace Arts Trust, this exhibition presents a sampler of contemporary New Zealand fibre-based art, celebrating a medium which is too often in the background, overlooked as domestic, utilitarian, and mundane.  Art made using textile media and techniques has historically been considered within the domain of decorative arts or craft, and has been aligned more with functional objects and home furnishings than with works on the gallery wall.

This intersection between the domestic and the public is reflected in the spaces of the Pah Homestead, where rooms that are now public galleries were once the ballroom, drawing room, and morning room of a private home. These were lived-in spaces, at once intimate and grand. Here, serviceable pieces, such as blankets woven in the local Onehunga Woollen Mills, are quite at home, and so too are those works which playfully reference the quotidian heritage of textiles: an entirely crocheted barbeque table, the ink-stained pocket of a shirt, knitted dishcloths pegged along a line.

Textile art is very much a living tradition. The artists represented in Living Cloth encourage us to look again at the textiles that surround us – to appreciate the extraordinary skill and sophistication of their crafting, to notice their ubiquity in the lives of people in different times, places, and cultures. Contemporary works draw on the history and memory threaded through the cloth and – liberated by the progress of technology from the need to produce purely functional pieces – honour a return to handcrafted ways of making in a world of mass production and waste.


May 22, 2018
July 8, 2018
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