Common Thread

A tantalising exhibition of textile art, waiting behind closed doors for the end of lockdown.

New Art Centre, Roche Court, Wiltshire

Coming soon …

By Emma Crichton-Miller / 23rd April 2020
Sophie Rowley, 'Khadi Fray No. 2', 2018 (detail) COURTESY:

Sophie Rowley, ‘Khadi Fray No. 2’, 2018 (detail)

JUST BEFORE LOCKDOWN in the United Kingdom, the curators at the New Art Centre near Salisbury had begun to install their latest exhibition, now suspended. Common Thread is a celebration of textile art and design planned to spill into all three exhibition spaces at Roche Court, where the New Art Centre is based. It continues the New Art Centre’s tradition of showing the highest quality craft, design and art, blurring boundaries between these different arenas –  as artists do. Although the inspiration for the exhibition is textile, the artists invited to show their work range from textile designers, through to sculptors and painters using other media.

David Murphy installing his work COURTESY: Roche Court

David Murphy installing his work pre-lockdown
COURTESY: Roche Court

As the New Art Centre’s Creative Director, Lewis Gilbert, explained to me over the phone, in lockdown, from his apartment: “Textile isn’t my area of expertise, but it runs through everything we humans do. It is there in our language – we knit arguments together, we weave stories, we identify common threads.” The artists he has chosen are inspired by textile whether as material, process or at the level of metaphor.

David Murphy, 'Untitled (Gathering)', 2020 COURTESY: David Murphy

David Murphy, ‘Untitled (Gathering)’, 2020
COURTESY: David Murphy

“Jodie Carey trained as a textile designer and all her work is about material and changing it to make it stronger. She has made ceramic sculptures which are casts of woven metal structures. These works make us think about the amount of workmanship that goes into everything we handle, everything we wear,” Gilbert comments. Amy Revier, meanwhile, who originally trained as a sculptor, is now known best for her covetable individually woven and tailored cashmere coats, made with a traditional wooden floor loom and hand-dyed yarns from Scotland and Japan. For Common Thread she has created a felted wall piece in a metal frame, looking at the class connotations of different textile patterns. While Isobel Napier makes intricately constructed paper sculptures that resemble woven fabric, Katharine Swailes’s thoughtful handwoven tapestries made with cotton and linen fibres, look as if they are made of paper – recalling not only the ancient, pre-Colombian use of textiles as a form of language, but also the shared origins in Latin of the words ‘text’ and ‘textile’.

Installation view with Mark Corfield-Moore's works COURTESY: Roche Court

Installation view with Mark Corfield-Moore’s works
COURTESY: Roche Court

Some of the show is already in place. The blue and white, woven and tasselled wall works of Mark Corfield-Moore, created in response to the beautiful Georgian windows of Roche Court, already hang in the gallery and Orangery, evoking the dance of sunlight through windows. They play with our perceptions of what is foreground and what is background, what is hidden and what is exposed, what is substance and what is illusion. David Murphy’s woven metal sculptures and his intriguing paintings, scratched through on gesso, as if by a miniature plough, furrowing the paint – or a weaver’s shuttle plotting the weft’s path through the warp – already hang in the Design House, created by Stephen Marshall in 2018.

David Murphy, 'Long Ending (Purple Red)', 2018 COURTESY: David Murphy

David Murphy, ‘Long Ending (Purple Red)’, 2018
COURTESY: David Murphy

Yet to arrive are subtle, diaphanous indigo-dyed and embroidered linen works by Ayan Farah and textile designer Sophie Rowley’s playful, geometric ‘Khadi Fray’ works, where she has taken traditional Indian hand-weaving techniques and then deconstructed them, unpicking and fraying the fabrics to create three dimensional sculptures.

Ayan Farah, 'Ida', 2017 COURTESY: Ayan Farah and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

Ayan Farah, ‘Ida’, 2017
COURTESY: Ayan Farah and Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

Forest + Found – a partnership between Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth, dedicated to using craft techniques to reclaim found materials – were preparing a joint presentation of carved wooden jars created by Bainbridge from spalted beech (sourced in the landscape surrounding the New Art Centre) and Booth’s wall works. These are created using traditional patchwork and quilting, but incorporate wood shavings from Bainbridge’s work.

The dialogue these works will create between themselves and with the landscape and architecture of Roche Court, is as yet unknown. But the New Art Centre is fully committed to opening the exhibition as soon as it is safe and they are authorised to do so. For, as Gilbert says, “a huge part of the programming at Roche Court, and this is especially important with textile art, is to see the work in the flesh.” Every art lover in the land will second that.

Sophie Rowley, 'Khadi Fray No. 2', 2018 COURTESY: Sophie Rowley

Sophie Rowley, ‘Khadi Fray No. 2’, 2018
COURTESY: Sophie Rowley

The New Art Centre, Roche Court – a sculpture park and gallery with an educational centre which is open to the public.

Common Thread with Jodie Carey Mark Corfield-Moore, Ayan Farah, Forest + Found, David Murphy,  Isobel Napier, Amy Revier, Sophie Rowley, Katharine Swailes, and works from the GRAY MCA collection.

Article by Emma Crichton-Miller
Article by Emma Crichton-Miller
Emma Crichton-Miller is Editor-in-Chief of The Design Edit. View all articles by Emma Crichton-Miller