The artist's tasselled textiles go on show at Jerwood Makers Open
Weaver Mark Corfield-Moore typically takes a historical event or character as the starting point of his work, then abstracts the references to tell a more universal story. Among these have been tapestries adorned with parasols, influenced by the art of ‘studied carelessness’ practised by 14th-century Italian courtiers, and works inspired by Kitty Fisher, an 18thcentury courtesan who would eat ‘money sandwiches’.
It was the clarity of his ideas and his commitment to developing new skills that won him a place at the Jerwood Makers Open: a biennial commission that celebrates early career makers, funded by UK-based independent body Jerwood Arts. He and five other makers and studios were selected from more than 300 applicants for an £8,000 award to create experimental new works, which are now on display at London’s Jerwood Space before touring nationally. ‘Mark’s work stood out for his striking, intercultural approach to weaving practices and the strength of his research proposal,’ says Lilli Geissendorfer, director of Jerwood Arts.
The London-based artist, who studied History of Art at University College London before doing a second BA in Fine Art at Central St Martins and post-graduate studies at the Royal Academy, took up weaving less than two years ago, after doing a taster course in weaving in Peckham then buying his own loom. He was selected to take part in the Jerwood exhibition last November and, since then, has spent time in northern Thailand learning the art of ikat – a form of dyeing and weaving practised in several parts of Asia – after finding out that his maternal grandmother had been a weaver there. He also travelled to rural Scotland to learn about the production of tartan, a nod to the British side of his identity, producing and registering a new tartan.
‘The interesting thing is that you get ikat from Uzbekistan to Indonesia, but also tartan in northern Thailand, even though it’s synonymous with British brands,’ he says. ‘I’m interested in these cross-overs, rather than saying “this is British and this is Thai”.’ Through his explorations, he is also highlighting the nomadic, cross-cultural and placeless nature of textile production itself.
While learning traditional skills, he has also been experimenting with his own methods – specifically, a tassel effect in which strands of the warp thread hang loose, disrupting and complicating the image. The drooping, nostalgic form that this process produced reminded him of the trails left behind by fireworks and of weeping willows – and were the basis of the works he is showing at the Jerwood Space. His latest textiles are wall-based, framed pieces that incorporate elements of both tartan and ikat – bringing together the rigid grid of the former and the feathery looseness of the latter.
They are versions, he says, of the prints that were made in the 17th century to commemorate fireworks events – a theme that again touches on his interests in memory, space and time. ‘You might think that these prints were documents made after the event looking back, but it was typical for fireworks prints actually to be made before an event,’ he says. ‘They were not a record of history but rather an anticipation of it being remembered.’ It is this idea of travel, whether through time or distance, that persists throughout his work.
Jerwood Makers Open is at Jerwood Space, London SE1 0LN, until 18 August. It then tours to Sleaford, Manchester, Scunthorpe and Devon – find full details at jerwoodarts.org