modern spring 2007
NEWS & EVENTSBOOKS 15
SMALL WONDERS The handsome book, Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor, charts the development of the artist’s miniature weavings over the past fifty years. With an embossed cover suggesting the texture of woven cloth, this publication coincided with the 2006 exhibition held at the Bard Graduate Centrefor Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, New York. Sheila Hicks is well known to many for her large-scale textiles, which is why this book is unexpected. It stands quite alone: the only other Englishlanguage study of the artist, Monique Levi-Strauss’ Sheila Hicks, is long out of print. The artist estimates that she has woven over a thousand miniature textiles throughout her career. This volume illustrates 195 pieces, some of which inevitably look dated. A helpful work-inprogressimage sheds light on Hicks’ unusual technique developed on a small, self-fashioned portable frame. And sketchbook pages dating from 1958-1965, offer insight into Hicks’ creative process. The majority of pages are well designed with a single colour plate on the right hand page and caption information on the left, allowing each work necessary breathing room. This provides a welcome frame of white, drawing attention to many of the weavings’ four selvedge edges. Some work is exquisite, such as Vanishing Yellow(2004, left) and the curious assemblage Amor de l’Ama (1989, above). The one exception to this well considered book is the essay ‘Weaving as Metaphor’ by Arthur C. Danto.
Against the balance and symmetry of Hicks’ weavings, the essay reads awkwardly as the font size decreases from page to page. We learn from a footnote that the essay was commissioned by the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia and published, in part, under the title ‘The Tapestry and the Loincloth’ in 2002. It seems a shame that the opportunity was not taken to publish a new piece of scholarship on weaving. Joan Simon’s essay ‘Frames of Reference’ and exhibition’s curator Nina Stritzler-Levine’s ‘A Design Identity’ both offer more illuminating responses to Hicks’ work. Jessica Hemmings(Sheila Hicks: Weaving as Metaphor, Yale University Press, $45)
BALANCING ACT The organisers of the Crafts Council’s decorative art fair Collect, at the V&A museum in London, were keen to rid the event of its reputation as a fair of few textiles. Thus this year, the 62 Group of Textile Artists (UK-based) and Edinburgh’s tapestry workshop Dovecot Studios were invited to exhibit. The 62 Group showed work by eight textile artists, including the embroidererAudrey Walker, whose long, delicately stitched panel of a female figure was acquired for the V&A’s collection. Dovecot Studios displayed some bold and
bright tapestry designs, includingThe Cartographer’s Blue Circle, Quarter Section (right) by jewellery designer Wendy Ramshaw. Director David Weir was delighted to return to the show and continuedto demonstrate the wide potential of tapestry as a medium. Textiles beyond these two stands were still few and far between but Japanese artist Shihoko Fukumoto’s shibori panels, including Morning Mist, on the stand of Katie Jones, London, was simply breathtaking. Let’s hope that achieving the right balance of representation within the decorative arts stays top of the agenda at Collect.
Photo: S hannon Tofts