While choosing an exhibition to visit from the list that we were given, I had in mind a feeling that I should visit a gallery that I had never been to. I’ve decided to visit the Alison Jacques Gallery located near Tottenham Court Road tube station.
Stones of Peace is an exhibition containing Sheila Hicks’s art works from woven linen panels to soft sculptures. It’s difficult to describe presented pieces in few words but I can sum them up as colourful, mysterious, extraordinary and well-thought ones. A press release about the exhibition says that ‘The artist referred to works in progress as ‘silver of sentiment, slumbering on the doorstep’ , while creating the show’ (Press release, Sheila Hicks: Stones of Peace). On the very first sight, we can very easily notice the limitless variety of colours, range of textiles and materials used and the hidden stories behind the art pieces. Hicks uses her work as the way to communicate with world; ‘If you keep your eyes open, you’re going to have a hell of a time’ (Sheila Hicks, Wall Street Journal Magazine, September, 2017).
Sheila Hicks and her work is strongly influenced by her research and travels to South America, Asia and Africa. This helped her to create her very own vocabulary breaking any categorisation and the boundaries in art; ‘between painting, sculpture, design and architecture’ (Press release, Sheila Hicks: Stones of Peace). Also her works are greatly made with a massive list of materials used to create them, starting with rayon, going through cotton and ending up on pure pigmented acrylic fibre. Hicks is referencing to art she saw, places she went to and cultures she experienced mainly in Chile, Mexico, Morocco but also in India. On one of the research papers at the exhibition, just at the very beginning, there’s a note about burial wigs saying;
‘Styles of hairdressing varied according to region just as did hats and headbands. Some indication of the coiffures remains in burial wigs made of human hair or wool which were often placed on mummies. One type consists of a knotted cap to which are attached innumerable hair braids, a fashion among certain Aymara men and women. Colored threads wrapped around the… ‘
Based on this artist’s note we can relate her work to the burial wigs she was on about. This was something that influenced her pieces for sure and made her inspired to do them. Right next to the note was a picture of the colored threads mentioned in the note as well. On the same research paper, it’s possible to see notes about artist’s further research. As far as I know it’s in french but what i can read is sewing machine and wool fabric with embroidery.
What’s also important is that the whole exhibition takes place in small, tiny space which makes it more personal so that the viewer can have more private, deeper thoughts on the show. I think that the pieces were really well presented, especially the yellow intertwined yarn which was actually floating in the air. The piece seemed really heavy but by the way it was installed at the exhibition, it gave a totally fresher, lighter view on it. As far as I am concerned, the exhibition was really appealing to me and not only because I am currently really into textiles and fabrics, but the reason was that it wasn’t a common exhibition you could visit in every and each museum. Shown pieces of work don’t have any captions saying what are they made of or what’s the title. It intrigues the viewer to overthink or just to make you comfortable with the work you got the opportunity to see OR to make you think of your own title/analysis. I felt really impressed by the range of colours used and the huge variety of ways in which Sheila Hicks used all the fabrics and materials. At first glance the work seemed not really exciting but with a closer look, it seemed like it was more and more to explore about it. I personally think, the presented work was influenced by African and South American culture and the research paper presented at the exhibition was only a hint to go deeper, explore, feel comfortable with the pieces presented at the Alison Jacques Gallery and what is also somehow important (at least it would for me) to feel the relation between them and cultures that influenced the artist.