Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery at the TIAF

Inside the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery Booth at the TIAF Oct 4-6 2008

October 4, 2008 Two days later its Nuit Blanche and the question of dressing warm enough and being prepared for rain. Last year it was about over anxious security guards making interactive art hard to interact with and blah inspiring monumental projects balancing overcrowded intimate experiences trying to navigate fashion displays in a church with a slow but steadily powerfully moving line, you could stop to look or return to look again. I went through the on-line programme trying to convince myself it was worth the energy. There were two things with direct textile / fibre connections.

Knit City, a participatory installation by Kristin Ledgett, Iwona Gontarska, at the Knit Café at 1050 Queen Street West and Art of Fashion, Between the Lines a multi media fashion show at Wrong Bar & Parkdale Library Parking lot, 1279 Queen St. West and 1303 Queen St. West. These types of events would draw their own regular audience of relatives and friends I didn’t need to see them.

With a clear conscience I decided to watch Saturday Night at the Movies and spend several hours at the Toronto International Art Fair on Sunday
Sunday October 5th 2008

The TIAF is now in its ninth year and I have been attending as the press for the past four and have had the opportunity to develop relationships with a few dealers from different parts of the country and some international galleries. I have seen an increase in textile and fibre arts being brought over this time period and have become a fan of one gallery in particular. This year however there was a noticeable lack of the type of work I look for and a few conversations provided a thesis for this. It boils down to a safe market and easy sale, traditional media sells i.e. Painting, photography, prints and sculpture, Mixed media and conceptual work is sometimes more difficult to present and textile and fibre works losses ground in slack fine arts market. That said I was more then impressed by the number of new artist I was able to see at the booth of the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery from London England.

Peter Clark Sunny Side, Mixed Media, 2007, 135 x 82 cm (53.1 x 32.3 ins)

Three years ago while wondering through I came across the college work of and artist named Peter Clark, I had been reading about him in Selvedge Magazine and there was one of his dog colleges. I went into the booth and looked around and finally talked to a few of the gallery personal. As I established my interest in textile and fibre work they showed me a print by Karen Nicole and told me she taught Textiles at the Royal College of Art. The next year they brought more work by Peter Clark; many dogs and new clothing pieces and Karen Nicole; French seaside imagery, and more dogs art. This year as I came up the escalators and around past the magazine displays and look across to the main body of the fair I saw the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery Booth was almost front and center, they had moved from the interior of the fair, had a larger space and I soon saw, almost a third if not more of the work they brought had a range of textile techniques involved in there production.

Karen Nicol, Seabird, Mixed Media, 2007, 110 x 85 cm (43.3 x 33.5 ins)

Born in Australia and coming to England to complete her education Rebecca Hossack left her law studies to follow a career in the arts she opened the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery was opened in 1988. Succeeding in the unsteady economic climate of the late eighties she brought together an international stable of artist and gained a reputation both for championing Aboriginal and Non Western Art. She opened a second space in 1991, and a sculpture garden at St James’s, Piccadilly the following year. She is moving the main gallery to a new three-storey building at 2a Conway Street, off Fitzroy Square, while keeping a second space at 28 Charlotte Street.

This Galleries presence at the TIAF has been a ray of hope for me. Beading, embroidery, piecing, crocheting, appliqué, cutwork, and this year new three dimensional paper work, by Peter Clark I was entranced. Their commitment to this type of work and placing it in the international market place makes me question the lack of commercial galleries willing to make the same investment in textile and fibre work in Canada, but that is a different story. I would rather tell you about the work I saw in their booth.

Peter Clark is doing a new series of paper sculpture of objects i.e. Camera, Accessories i.e. Purses shoes. Souvenir ephemera, military badges among others. There was a subtlety shocking crocheted pack of cigarettes and dazzling beaded Sardine Tin complete with sardines done in beads and sequence done by artist designer Kate Jenkins . This work has whimsy and delight, it is colourful and just tthe top of the iceburg of a dazzeling number of thematic embelished crocheted and knitted work. It is just too much fun.
Fluffy Strikes; Soft Smokes series, corcheted lambs wool

Tinned Sardines, Tinned Sardines, crocheted lambs wool and sequence, framed 23.5cm x23.5cm x4cm

Pieced luxurious textile portraits of Dogs heavily embellish with beads and rickrack by Donya Coward as well as simple leather and felt reverse appliqué brooches, were also on display. Artist Statement: The "Victorianesque" collection of domestic pet portraits is created from Donya's passion for hoarding. No two animals are ever the same, crafted by re-using and preserving fabrics, jewelry and oddments around specifically designed knits. The portraits are an innovative and humorous collection incorporating modern ideals of recycling and conservation that exude character and wit. "Veggie taxidermy" for a contemporary environment.”

Donya Coward Black and White French Bulldog, Mixed Media, 2008, 19 x 14 cm

Donya Coward, Fox, woodland collection brooch 2007,

They also represent the work of Australian artist David Bromley. Working in a number of media he has produced a number of pieces based on children’s books illustrations from the 1950’s working on wooden blocks which have the appearance of old faded children’s building blocks and on canvas, the latest ones have embroidered areas of solid colour and random stitching these works are compelling in a nostalgic way. They are also intriguing in there depiction of a constructed notion of 1950’s ideal of innocence and can be as heavily loaded with what ever meaning this imagery brings to the viewer.

Skipping Girl Tapestry on Canvas, 2008, 31 x 32 cm (12.2 x 12.6 ins)

Throwing Boy Tapestry on Canvas, 2008 , 22 x 33 cm (8.7 x 13.0 ins)

It is always interesting to see object live rather then in magazines, on line or in books and as much as an Art Fair is about the market place it is also about the actual work being produced. This year with the decline in textile work generally the quality, price point and of introduction to new artist to the Canadian “market place” from the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery made the trip to the TIAF as exciting as ever.

An artist whose work I didn’t see but is in there stable works with recycled paper with fabric inclusions is David Farrer who is having a show “ Mounted But Not Stuffed” in December in the Charlotte Street location (like Snyderman - Works Galleries in Philadelphia with host the International Fiber Biennial they have two locations) says in his artist statement “My favoured subject matter is ecological, having a strong interest in 'green' matters. My work reflects this.” As with many fibre and textile artist represented by this gallery and others internationally, the work has always used “recycled” or re-functioned pre-existing materials putting these artists ahead of the currently earnest, put growing “Green” movement.

When all is said and done, this year like last year and the year before the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery gave a great showing of interesting, fantastical fibre, paper and textile work by English and Australian artist
Images of Kate Jenkin’s and Donya Coward’s work taken from their websites with permission to use in this posting, all other photographs where taken by me (Joe Lewis) for use in this Blog with permission from Gallery except the last which was scanned from the “Mounted Not Stuffed” invitation for David Farrer up coming exhibition at the RHAG
links to websites

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