We have been getting some press…The Scotsman has published a very insightful review, which you can find here or you can read below…
TAKING TIME: CRAFT AND THE SLOW REVOLUTION
DOVECOT STUDIOS, EDINBURGH
THE Slow Movement arose as a direct response to the growing speed of modern life.
As we found ourselves running to keep up in a world of instant global communication, accelerating mass production, cheap travel and endless stimuli, it issued a quiet challenge. Its watchwords were “sustainability” and “mindfulness”, its suggestion that we value work, objects, life and – perhaps most of all – the elusive quality of time.
On the face of it, at least, craft seems like the ultimate in slow pursuits. The value of time and skill celebrated in a book such as Richard Sennett’s The Craftsman is refreshingly counter-cultural, the antithesis of a mass-produced, consumer-driven society. In the space immediately above this exhibition in the Dovecot Studios, weavers are making tapestry, one of the slowest and most skill-intensive of all crafts.
But it’s not simply that craft takes a long time to do and produces results that are fit to marvelat (though it often does both). Taking Time – curated by Helen Carnac, herself a craftswoman using metal – aims to explore this subject with the complexity that it deserves. Using the work of 19 international artists, makers and designers (the distinctions become largely unnecessary) she delves into the process of making to explore its relation to time.
Gary Breeze carves words into stone, a time-consuming act. His inscription in this show comes from the diary of a 14-year-old girl 100 years ago, describing a Brigantine setting sail. Thus an ethereal moment from an all-but-lost book is set down in the permanence of stone.
Sue Lawty’s Calculus is an impressive mosaic of tiny stones on canvas, while Heidrum Schimmel sews line after line of simple stitches, which become like pages of writing. Both of these processes require a lot of time but the aim is not achieving expertise. Jewellery maker Esther Knobel openly questions technical expertise, suggesting that it might cause creativity to become sterile.
Sonya Clark’s intricate ladders made of beads undoubtedly took a long time to make, but they carry a sense of a history longer still, back across hundreds, even thousands, of years, to the first known uses of beads as decoration. Elizabeth Turrell studies badge collections which she says creates a “slow map” of someone’s life. Neil Brownsword’s ceramic sculptures come from a sense of slow rootedness in place (here the pottery country around Stoke-on-Trent) and history.
Amy Houghton explores “un-making” with her looped film of a knitted cardigan unravelling, and invites visitors to type their own messages on a large manual typewriter. This step back in technological time makes us immediately aware of the mechanics of writing, and how differently we need to type when there is no delete button.
Time is a living issue in Garland No 21, which is continuing to be made as the exhibition progresses. Begun as a kind of performance in wool by textile craftsman Shane Waltener and dancer/choreographer Cheryl McChesney Jones, it continues to take shape as a multicoloured, multidimensional sculpture added to by visitors using the various knitting needles, crochet hooks and wools at their disposal.
Collaboration in itself can add time to a process. Ceramic artists Paul Scott and Ann Linneman describe their collaboration as “a slow fermentation of ideas and objects”, while Ken Eastman and Dawn Yuill explore how ideas, experiences and memories distil and synthesise, first in conversation, then feeding into objects.
Many of the objects in this show become more engaging the more we know about their process. This can be a weakness, but in this context it also succeeds in making us more conscious of time: if you spend some time gazing at a work by David Gates, trying to work out whether it’s a sculpture or a piece of furniture, or indeed (as I did) pick up a pair of knitting needles and forget the passage of time altogether, you have attended to one of the key principles of the Slow Movement.