Following the announcement of Make! Craft! Live! a season of events that will mark the Crafts Council's 50th anniversary and celebrate the value of craft to empower, enrich and connect our society, we are pleased to present a new exhibition at the Crafts Council Gallery.
We Gather features five female artists of Black and Asian heritage. Whilst their chosen materials and disciplines vary, their work shares a commitment to craft, its cultural value and social justice. The featured makers are Shaheen Ahmed, Lorna Hamilton-Brown, Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings, Francisca Onumah and Onome Otite.
The title We Gather refers to the gathering of ideas, skills and emotions embedded within these five craft practices. It is also a symbol of gratitude towards the communities who gathered their courage, bodies, and voices in support of justice for Black lives, which instigated deeper conversations between the UK’s Black makers and the Crafts Council.
Each artist in the exhibition will present new and existing work.
Birmingham-based artist Shaheen Ahmed’s work uses maps to reflect narratives of statelessness and disparagement. Her work is layered with a multitude of craft processes and motifs including calligraphy and Islamic geometry. The artist wore a blindfold while making the maps as a way to connect with the experiences of those afflicted by suffering against their will.
East Sussex-based artist Lorna Hamilton-Brown, known for her subversive textile works that challenge preconceptions of knitting and crochet, has created a knitted magazine cover - ‘We Mek’- full of symbolism with a central figure inspired by political activist Angela Davis and with her watch set to 9.25, the time that George Floyd lost his life to police brutality.
An artwork commissioned as part of the Yarnadelic Remixes 0.1 project titled 'Woman Blue - Elevate' will also be on display. The artwork is Lorna’s response to a music-box punch card and research conducted by KNITSONIK and Labistrake into the song Woman Blue (also known as ‘I Know You Rider’). A video discussion about the song choice and its symbolism will be on display and is available to watch on YouTube.
British-Sudanese textile artist Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings will present a new light installation. Incorporating dying, screen-printing and Devoré techniques, the work explores themes of identity, communication, heritage, and womanhood. The artist is influenced by her Sudanese heritage which is reflected in her use of Arabic geometry, colour, and form.
Ghanaian-born silversmith Francisca Onumah has created three emotive and figurative vessels that reflect family, relationships and historical images of Ghanaian people in everyday life. The grouping of these anthropomorphic vessels depicts the importance of community and support. Their abstracted patterns are deconstructed from traditional Ghanaian motifs, fabrics, and crafted objects. Onumah’s newly commissioned work 'In our skin' (2021) are vessels that elegantly reflect the subtle qualities between relationships and the strength and support that comes with it. Marks and textures are repeatedly hammered into sheet metal to mirror and resemble the patterns found in textiles and fabrics - the artist describes this process as “therapeutic”.
London-based artist Onome Otite has created a new textile work inspired by the support network between women, the group of figures in her piece are based on close friends of hers, that have inspired her. She has also intentionally chosen five figures to mirror the relevance of the five women taking part in the We Gather exhibition. She has hand-stitched loose folded fabrics across her hand-drawn figures, which have been donated by each of her subjects.