This spring, Turner Contemporary puts making and materiality center stage. Entangled: Threads & Making is a major exhibition of sculpture, installation, tapestry, textiles and jewelry from the early 20th century to the present day. It features more than 40 international female artists who expanded the possibilities of knitting and embroidery, weaving, sewing and wood carving, often incorporating unexpected materials such as plants, clothing, hair and bird quills.
Entangled: Threads & Making is curated by writer and critic Karen Wright, with Turner Contemporary. Karen Wright became fascinated by the making processes she saw first-hand on the many studio visits she did with artists for her “In the Studio” column for the Independent. The idea for Entangled: Threads & Making evolved out of these visits, in particular one with renowned American artist Kiki Smith who was working on her epic tapestry Sky (2012).
Grounded in the work of 20th century pioneers of textiles, fashion and handcrafted practice, such as Anni Albers, Louise Bourgeois, Sonia Delaunay, Eva Hesse and Hannah Ryggen, the exhibition will trace their impact on younger generations of artists who incorporate similar materials and processes into their work, as well as bringing together 8 new works, created especially for the show. Entangled: Threads & Making aims to reveal and celebrate the compulsion to make which lies at the heart of many of these artists’ diverse and varied practices.
The 20th-century weavers Anni Albers and Hannah Ryggen, who elevated tapestry to the status of art, will be shown alongside contemporary artists such as Ann Cathrin November Høibo, who uses a loom to create abstract works incorporating natural and synthetic materials found on her travels. November Høibo is one of a number of artists who have made new work for Entangled. Ursula von Rydinsgvard’s Thread Terror, specially commissioned for the exhibition, is a large sculpture in cedar, carved by the artist to suggest thick thread or reams of fabric. Christiane Löhr creates delicate sculptures made of seeds, tree blossoms and plant matter. For Entangled, Lohr will create a new work made from a column of horsehair that will span the height of the gallery.
Both Eva Hesse and Susan Hiller began their careers as painters but went on to make experimental, handmade sculptures in the 1960s and 70s using the language of minimal and conceptual art. Entangled includes a series of Hesse’s fragile forms in cheesecloth (No Title, 1969) alongside Hiller’s Painting Blocks (1974/75) – recycled canvases cut up and sewn together to form sculptural blocks. Sonia Gomes draws on the traditions of indigenous cultures in her native Brazil for her colorful, abstract sculptures made by binding different fabrics around wire, whilst Phyllida Barlow recycles bits of timber, plywood and other discarded or everyday materials to create her brightly painted assemblages such as Untitled: Broken Shelf (2015).
A costume for the ballet designed by Sonia Delauney in 1918 is shown in dialogue with contemporary artists Aiko Tezuka, Arna Óttarsdóttir and Maria Papadimitriou who work in different ways with clothing and textiles, the latter producing garments for or with others, as in her collection of Roma coats included in the exhibition. Finally, a new interactive commission from Paolo Anziche will take the form of a group of suspended tubes in raffia, wool, jute and other natural fibers, inviting us to walk through and within the sculptures, literally getting inside her chosen materials and providing an immersive exit from the Turner Contemporary show.