Thought Threads is the new exhibition at Brixton’s San Mei gallery which brings together the work of three artists whose interest is in textiles. Given their intrinsic mix of functionality and decoration, textiles have long been a means to express and celebrate cultural identity and history. Nour Jaouda, Gal Leshem and Emily Moore sit within tradition although each uses textiles in different ways to create pictures, to build monuments and to chart history.
It is a small exhibition but each piece deserves and rewards attention. Nour Jaorda’s “From Dust to Rust” is a spectacular puzzle where fragments of memory have been given a physical form and where layer upon layer of textiles build a monumental narrative made from the traces and marks of history. There are strong echoes of Islamic geometrical shapes and architecture as the image increasingly becomes an object – occupying a space between painting and sculpture. At the centre of the piece is a journey through place and time, but it is not easy to follow. This is a challenging piece which shines a light on the complex and changing culture, history and aesthetics of the middle east.
Emily Moore’s work is at first sight more accessible. Textiles and yarn have been used to create images which perhaps have a closer relationship to paintings. But the textures and shapes fashion a dramatic narrative based in part on a striking mix of opposites. The pieces are both static and dynamic, energetic and reflective. Each piece was created during the lockdown and therefore allows an intimate insight into the artist’s concerns and anxieties. This is particularly so of “Black Woman and Child” which is a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The visual language is both fast and slow as the eye travels around quickly and then comes to rest, before dancing off.
Gal Leshem’s “Dragon in Adrianople Red” reflects her interest the red dye, taken from the Madder plant, and used in traditional techniques to make rugs and other textiles. Her piece is a celebration and reconstruction of this slice of history but also touches upon culture and community. Hand dyed pieces of fabric echo the imagery of rugs produced in Turkey and Greece and are used as blocks to create a building at once both delicate and robust. As befits the best rugs there is a symmetrical border – perhaps highlighting the centrality of borders across the region.
A conversation between the artists accompanies the exhibition and gives further insights into their work and art.
Thought Threads runs until 31 October in San Mei Gallery, 39a Loughborough Road, SW9 7TB. For details of times and socially distanced visits go to www.sanmeigallery.co.uk
Nour Jaouda is a Cairo/London-based Libyan artist currently studying MA Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. Jaouda explores through painting, textile design and installation, issues of cultural mobility and displacement in the context of Egypt’s cultural landscape.
Gal Leshem is a London-based Israeli artist currently studying MA Fine Art at the Slade School of Art, London. Leshem’s work questions the significance of history and collective memory within the construction of national identities, exploring tensions between the errand quality of culture and identity, as opposed to the notion of territorialized belonging.
Emily Moore is a London-based artist who recently graduated from MA Painting at the Royal College of Art, London. Moore’s practice explores her own term ‘wildness’ in contemporary painting, adopting an approach to the studio similar to that of a natural untamed landscape.