Hand stitching is a slow rhythmic craft that describes both the functional and symbolic dimensions of joining and being attached, and as such it has become a daily social encounter for Gavin Fry.
In this exhibition Fry presents stitched works and the kernels of ideas including his sketchbooks and found objects. In these, the original ideas, are the sandwiched disparate elements and gleaned things that later get fixed together. Only then do the stories they hold get written; and because they are built ragbag, they can be neither purely realist nor linear.
The slow rhythms of hand-stitching allow the artist to carve out space for himself and make time for reflection. The embroidery is not rogue but is included throughout the making stages as a dialogic collage element to further add to both the narrative and the making process using his idiosyncratic imagery.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of having an art practice, is to use it as a trampoline to bounce around questions that might not otherwise get asked (of oneself and of others). By capturing initial information in journals and sketchbooks Fry can then marry ideas into questions, and compositions from accidental discoveries and quiet collisions. It is these that then grow into assemblages/bricolages, the complete process from find to end becoming a device to activate further inquiries.
The themes explored in these works are identity, labelling, and the narrative associations of stitch. The artist’s material choices are deliberate: they enable him to play himself because his identity is partially constructed through making with stitch and thread, bits and bobs, and in turn, this has become a device to activate further inquiries.
Roland Barthes in his essay The World as Object, discusses the transformation of things (and materials), and in line with this logical alchemy Fry is “taking refuge within attributes”. For forty years the attributes of embroidery have become a productive epistemic practice enabling him to occupy both a personal and a historic social space because immersion in the craft is not an isolating encounter.
This work develops certain monstrosities (as well as pleasures) to make social ornaments and signs. It does so by using materials familiar to the artist so as not to inhibit but make easier both the documentation and making processes. These forms and material choices support and contextualize Fry’s ideas. In these works, embroidery surpasses its functional attributes because it is used here as a material practice that signifies metaphors of collaboration and separation.
Viewing the exhibition
The exhibition will be open to the public from Sunday 30 April.
Opening Times: Saturdays and Sundays 10.00-17.00, until Sunday 10 September.
Please note that the exhibition is occasionally unavailable, for instance during graduations.
It is advisable to contact the Porters' Lodge in advance of your visit (01223 335900).
This event will take place in the Combination Room on the first floor of our main building. It has step-free access with a lift and there is an accessible toilet located on the first floor of the building.
For more details please view our AccessAble guide.
About Wolfson exhibitions
Wolfson has an established programme of exhibitions and artistic events which take place throughout the year and are framed by its modernist architecture, beautiful landscaped gardens and embedded into academic life.
The art on show is enjoyed by both the academic and wider community. Exhibitions are open to the general public, for students and Fellowship and visited by scholars, guests and visitors from around the world.
Wolfson has an established art exhibitions programme which has showcased the work of both renowned international artists and innovative emerging artists with the aim of stimulating reflection, discussion and debate.
You can find out more about exhibitions at Wolfson on the Arts page.