Visited Machynlleth in mid Wales today to see a collaborative installation by crochet artist, Louise Bird and sound and film artist Jake Whittaker - Loopholes. It was installed into the Old Tannery, a semi derelict building next door to The Tabernacle (MOMA Wales) which is hosting temporary art pieces until building work begins to convert the space into an extension for the gallery.
The project was the result of an Arts Council of Wales development project to explore the connections and correlations between the artist's work. Louise's crochet incorporates ideas about science with traditional crochet techniques. She currently uses deep sea fishing line to make intensive, repetitive objects. Jake uses "...found objects, music, video, photography, performance, and interactive networks/processes to explore themes of memory, nostalgia, aesthetics and perception". Both artists use repetition as a theme.
The Old tannery is gloriously run down, a gently decaying space full of crumbly lime dust. It has three defined spaces. On entry you hear a monotonous, stuck record - a turntable on the floor with its arm tied playing looped vinyl from the local charity shop - Telyn Cymru/The Harp of Wales. Louise's "Iota" crocheted piece - 60 metres of fishing line punctuated by little rosettes of crochet connects to the turntable and then leads off to draw us into the rest of the exhibition.
Next, a darkened narrow space, a convex mirror with a spooky, green, swirling image of a crochet piece projected onto it. Mesmeric and slightly mandala like. Little disembodied hands pepper the image, sliding in and out of the frame, crocheting-crocheting-crocheting, constantly making. It's a lovely piece, and the droning from looping sound either side of the space accentuates the hypnotic quality.
In the last space Louise's huge Fabric of the Universe piece - a circular piece of fishing line crochet - is on the floor. Four old fashioned decks with tied tone arms are playing drones. Fascinating choices of vinyl - from BBC sound archive of bird song to Esme Lewis Productions disc of 'Dawnsiau'r Twmpath 2' by 'Band y Meillion'- all sourced in local charity shops. The old fashioned equipment roots the experience into a context of place and history. Projected on the wall is a close-up image of the transparent crochet on the floor. It blends serendipitously with the stone and lime wall behind to make a rippling, ephemeral texture.
The transparent but slightly scintillating nature of the fishing line expresses something profound about the process of making. The continual activity of the crochet...the constant creation of the universe - big/little - all the same activity. It has resonances of all those myths where women spin up reality, Arachne, the Norns et al.
I left buoyed by the sensitivity and gentle balance between the artists work, the subtle inhabitation the space, the skillfully understated aesthetic. Exquisite.
Find out more: Louise, Jake