Sunday, 23 December 2012

The Materialistics: making material art in a material world

In 2011 a group of 40 women known as The Materialistics exhibited a collection of their art work called "The Grand Tour", at the Customs House in South Shields, England. "The Grand Tour" comprised 50 pieces of art work and it took The Materialistics a year to create them. What made this collection remarkable was the medium used to create these art works: they were not painted or sculpted, but knitted, crocheted, and embroidered. Through needlework, The Materialistics had recreated 50 well-known works of art in painstaking detail: Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe, Edvard Munch's The Scream, Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Pablo Picasso's Woman in Garden, Rembrandt's self-portrait, Dante Gabriel's Rosetti's Daydream, Gustav Klimt's The Kiss, and many more.

"The Grand Tour", which travelled to various venues in England for exhibition, was not the first nor the last of The Materialistics' exhibitions. Their first two were "A Coat for a Boat" in 2009 (which involved an actual boat covered in knitting) and "Victorian Christmas" (a full scale room including window, Christmas tree, and Santa by a fireplace all in victorian style) in 2010, and in 2012 their exhibition was a recreation of fairy tale characters and scenes entitled Once Upon a Time. Their current project, which is a work in progress, is called Home Sweet Home.

There's everything to love about The Materialistics and their work, but my favourite thing about The Grand Tour project is that no one who sees it can ever deny that needlework is as much, and as variable, an artistic medium as paint or clay or metal.

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