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Surface Design Journal
44
F
REDDIE
R
OBINS
Basketcase
2015
machine-knitted wool, crocheted lurex,
found wicker basket, 40.4" x 10.2".
Photo: Douglas Atfield.
making it OK
b y I a n W i l s o n
“Art is restoration: the idea is
to repair the damages
that are inflicted
in life.”
-
Louise Bourgeois
©2016 Surface Design Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly
prohibited.
m
45
Fall2016
BELOW:
F
REDDIE
R
OBINS
Someone Else's Dream - Crashed
(2013-
2016), found handknitted jersey reworked by artist, mixed fibers,
22.8" x 20.47". Installed at Forty Hall, Enfield, UK.
ABOVE:
F
REDDIE
R
OBINS
Someone Else's Dream
series (2013-2016), found
handknitted jerseys
reworked by artist, wool,
angora, cotton and mixed
fibers, dimensions vari-
able as installed Forty
Hall, Enfield, UK.
Mending and repairing possess a myriad of po-
tent possibilities and interpretations, ranging
from the economic to the therapeutic. Liz
Cooper
, curator of
What Do I Need to Do to Make
It OK?
, is fascinated by the many implications that
these activities embody. She developed this tour-
ing group exhibition in partnership with the Inter-
national Textile Research Centre of the University
of the Creative Arts in Farnham and Arts Council,
England. Cooper’s intention is “to explore damage
and repair, disease and medicine, healing and
restoration of bodies, minds, and landscapes.” Her
earlier curatorial undertaking entitled
Making and
Mending
, which coincided with the global eco-
nomic crisis of 2009, “made the territory topical,
with a general embracing of thrift and recycling.”
Within the larger history of textiles, participating
artist Dorothy Caldwell sees mending as the
provenance and artistic forerunner of “more for-
mal textile art forms, such as North American
quilt making, Japanese
sashiko
, and
kantha
em-
broidery from India ...”.
The title
What Do I Need to Do to Make It
OK?
seems to hold an implicit awareness that
change is necessary. But also, perhaps, it in-
cludes a sub-text suggesting that perfection is
not always possible, and that all too often, in so
many of the situations that we encounter as
human beings, “OK” will have to suffice. The exhi-
bition takes both practical and conceptual mend-
ing, carried out in various media, into the sphere
of the art gallery, showcasing five artists who will
make new work for the exhibition as it tours to dif-
ferent venues in the UK through 2018.
In quite different ways,
Freddie Robins’
knitted pieces address her interest in using tex-
tiles to “repair” distressing emotional experiences
and to accept that sometimes life can be punitive.
I’m So Bloody Sad
deals with how we frequently do
not communicate feelings of sadness; the slump-
ing head—impaled with knitting needles—con-
veys a sense of helpless wretchedness.
Basket Case
exemplifies Robins’ use of what she has on hand
instead of sourcing new materials. The head is
from a project entitled
Perfect
where Robins at-
tempted to knit a body with industrial knitting
machines. She struggled with this enterprise—
©2016 Surface Design Association, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly
prohibited.
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