She employs an interest in mark making through stitch (amongst other methods) to bring textural detail into a series of works which investigate themes of transience in terms of homelessness or the need for refuge, particularly citing this in the context of military conflict. She draws upon her Libyan family background to inform this and also shared with us photographs taken of army encampments in Israel during the Lebanese war. Her sculptures realise aspects of this by referencing physical methods of carrying and housing personal belongings during such crises; soldiers bags, tents and temporary accommodation.
Much of her works exist both in and beyond the dual camps of garment and sculpture and she prefers to describe her practice as ‘sculptural clothing in an ambiguous way; 3D works of art that could be used in performance.’ Many pieces are both displayed in a gallery and worn in videos or photographs and her use of materials as well as the inclusion of the model invite the audience to consider the relationship between the external surface textures and the ‘refuge’ of the interior. She then uses features such as boning to create structure in the garments forcing the body into awkward positions which then cause us to question just how comforting the promised refuge can really be.
This dialogue between the internal and external is also used as a metaphor for conflict itself, as in ‘Bubble’, her MA show piece which references the Middle East conflict as ‘a bubble fit to burst’. Where these pieces are worn in performance, they frequently depict the model as inside the bubble, trying to escape from it.
Tucked into the schedule at the last minute, we still managed to make time to hear next from Lucy and Liz from Manchester based artists’ collective MidConversation. They came along to share with us their recent installation as part of the Free for Arts Festival, during which they took over an empty shop space in the Northern Quarter of the city and turned it into a temporary open studio. This installation; Open, was primarily an interactive piece and so was constructed in the space for the duration of the festival with the express intention of involving volunteers and passers-by in the creation. The ‘finished’ piece was only up for two hours at the closing event on Friday evening and featured a series of hinged pyramid shaped boxes which were designed to be moved, manipulated and reconstructed by the audience.
Having graduated last year, this is just their second project working together (they recently completed a piece in the textiles gallery at MOSI) but have found that operating as a collective enables bigger projects to be realised than working alone. As a result, their experience of the Open installation has been very positive and despite an initial moment of discomfort when it became time to ‘let go’ and allow the participants to interact with the piece, they soon found people enthusiastically manipulating the shapes in unexpected ways. Following on from the piece, the objects will now be used in a stop motion music video and it has been proposed that they might be utilised as design objects such as book cases and tables. Oh (I almost forgot!), and I will also be collaborating with the group on November the 12th, through an urban intervention with the Open objects documented with the Placemaking boards, bringing in an additional element of interaction.
So that concludes my summary for October 2012. Next month will be the 12th meeting which sort of technically makes it our birthday; however you will see I have actually listed December as the ‘official’ 1 year marker. This is because our first meeting wasn’t at MadLab so December will be our 12th meeting in the space and also because it seemed like a good month for a bit of a knees up. It’s then onward and upward into 2013 for lots more Creativity, Reflection, Investigation and Talking! How time does fly!