Major Fibre and Form exhibition by acclaimed artist Anna Ray set for St Albans Museum + Gallery
- Credit: Anna Ray
Hatfield's UH Arts + Culture and St Albans Museum + Gallery are delighted to present the first major survey exhibition of sculptural textile work by acclaimed artist Anna Ray.
The Hertfordshire-based artist's headline exhibition, Fibre & Form, launches next week on November 26.
It can be viewed in the Weston Gallery at St Albans Museum + Gallery until April 17, 2022.
Working from a studio in Hertfordshire, Anna has an impressive international commissioning and exhibition record with her stitched artwork.
Fibre and Form focuses on large-scale sculptural wall pieces created over the past 20 years.
It features two newly commissioned works, entitled Mesh and Rosette, which have been fabricated during the pandemic, supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
The St Albans exhibition pivots on these ambitious new assemblages and Anna’s seminal wall piece Margate Knot, originally produced for the exhibition ‘Entangled: Threads & Making’, at Turner Contemporary in Margate in 2017.
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Anna, who was artist-in-residence for The RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2015-2016, said: “I want my pieces to float, gather or fall naturally – to be themselves, to become exquisite.
"I am interested in the exact qualities of the materials I work with, their subtleties, how they look and feel alongside each other, as much as in their overall visual effects.
"I want the work to be deep, not superficial. The qualities – weight, strength, weakness, drape – of the artwork as it develops tend to lead the way in terms of final install, so there is an element of problem solving until the very end of the process.”
Anna’s vast Margate Knot takes on the appearance of a Pointillist painting, yet on closer inspection this energetic mass of 2,000 multicoloured sewn elements are tied together to create a three-dimensional ‘tapestry’.
A smaller, padded sculpture Ribbon Chain (2019) with its interlocking and coiled links – exhibited at St Albans Museum + Gallery for the first time – complements the scale and palette of Margate Knot.
The newly commissioned Rosette is a bold, brightly painted textile wall piece inspired by Ray’s Huguenot ancestors who were silk weavers and manufacturers of fancy trimmings in Spitalfields during the 1700s.
Mesh by contrast is a more subdued monochrome structure, with component parts laced imaginatively together, inspired by the boning of 18th-century clothing.
“This remarkable exhibition gives us glimpses into Anna’s studio practice and her creative process from initial experiments to epic soft sculptures,” said Annabel Lucas, head of UH Arts + Culture at the University of Hertfordshire.
The scope of the space in the former Town Hall in St Peter's Street, St Albans, offers a unique opportunity to unite and showcase an extraordinary collection of sculptural textile work by an artist working locally but with international ambition and context.
Councillor Anthony Rowlands, chair of St Albans Council’s public realm committee, and lead councillor for museums, said: “We are delighted to be showcasing incredible pieces, both early and new, from Anna Ray’s collection at St Albans Museum + Gallery.
"Acknowledging and supporting local artists is a central focus for the museum, so to host an exhibition from an internationally acclaimed artist is a pleasure and a privilege.”
Fibre and Form will be extended through a range of digital and live resources and events.
St Albans Museum + Gallery will host live workshops and talks, complemented by an artist film, online creative activities, and collaborative workshops.
For more details, visit www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/anna-ray-fibre-and-form