Janet Haigh’s ‘The Daphne Tree’, left, and Kirsten Hill-Nixon’s hand felted lion pictures, right, in the Noble Fibres exhibition
I organised and curated this textiles exhibition at Heart Space Studios, Bristol. The show opened as part of the Westbury Park Arts Festival in June.
This exhibition presents humorous, contemplative and academic interpretations of ‘Noble Fibres’ in a variety of textile materials by local artists and Heart Space tutors. Each artist’s definition has in common the assumption that Noble Fibres are natural, pure and even raw materials; this encompasses wool, felt and leather. Wool subtly references Shaun the Sheep, who is out and about in Bristol this summer, including on Coldharbour Road.
One of Kirsten Hill-Nixon’s hand felted lion pictures
Metals and cottons can also count as Noble Fibres, as they are not just limited to animal-based substances. However, a prominent motif running through this exhibition is the use and behaviour of animals. This is dealt with in a range of ways, from exploring their function as sources for harvesting the Fibres to their threatening interactions with Noble materials (think of the coat-eating clothes moth!).
Intriguingly, Nobel Fibres have also been taken to mean regal nobility and luxury, which several artists have explored through the use of historically royal colours and symbols, including the symbolic potential of animals.
The textile pieces collectively accentuate the process of making and the notion of ‘noble’ as an honest state of mind and approach to working. Due to this, several of the artworks are experimentations or samples rather than finished products.
Stephanie Wooster’s mood board for knitting samples
Sustainable craft also forms part of this code of good practice, which is pertinent considering this is Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. The emphasis on honesty is integral to the ethos of Heart Space Studios, which supports making meaningful things ‘with hand, heart and eye’.
Long view of the exhibition at Heart Space Studios, Bristol
Ilsa Fatt’s fabric woven necklace, inspired by the Snow Queen, a regal fairytale character
Knitted bosoms by Avril Best, in celebration of ‘Knitted Knockers UK’, a group of volunteers who make artificial 100% cotton breasts free of charge for women who have had mastectomies