n Image & Text : a Journal for Design - "Not a straight line by a spiral" : charting continuity and change in textiles informed by feminism

Volume 23, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1020-1491



In response to Rozsika Parker's (2010:xi-xxii) preoccupation with charting continuity and change in both the gendered meanings of craft and the work of women artists employing craft techniques and materials, in this article, I reflect on my experience of curating a retrospective exhibition of crochet and mixed media works by Su Richardson, a participant in the collaborative mail art (1975-1977) and installation project (various venues, including the ICA, 1977). Superficially,Richardson's domestic iconography has grown in mainstream popularity, as has the use of craft, yet the political, aesthetic and historical specificity of her should not be misrecognised: these self-reflectively home-made objects stir the unconscious of domesticity, femininity and their mutual implication from decidedly feminist perspectives. Following Parker (2010:xxi), I argue that threads of influence and dialogue in textiles informed by feminism are often oblique, broken and unexpectedly tangled. If Richardson's retrospective aimed to forge links not only between past and contemporary feminisms but also with current DIY aesthetics and countercultural practices, contemporary artists working with textiles mine a wealth of cultural and artistic references, suggesting complex and transgressive webs of kinship. Bronwyn Platten's quilted homage to Mike Kelley, (1973-2013), is an example of a work in which such cultural and artistic references are brought to the fore. In it, Platten questions Faith Wilding's dismissal of his work as an abject reification of 'bad boy masculinity' (Wilding 2000:94), to propose feminist and gender-critical alliances across genders and generations.

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