5 - materially measured

Whereas earlier bodies of work (see Materially divided and Repetitive corporeal habits and points of transition) addressed gestures of the hand and localised touch, this body of studio enquiry considered less focused touch. The concern was with an exploration of touch that is not limited to static contact between fingertips and surface but like textile’s corresponding organ of skin, is dispersed throughout the body. This was coupled with an on-going interest in the agency of textile and the unconscious manipulation of the body through everyday corporeal habits and spatial practices. Continuing to subvert modernist tropes through which textile had traditionally been marginalised, the practice explored minimal forms which had abstract ‘neutrality’ but which also referenced the real world of function and utility. The ubiquitous, non-descript pads and panels that constitute the non-spaces of our built environment and ergonomically facilitate the effective operation of the body, provided a visual and conceptual reference for the work. Countering the subjective aesthetic that is the focus of much textile practice and research, the upholstered panels of our transport system and corporate furniture provide a more detached stage set for the repetitive routines of our busy lives, silently soaking up the clamour of activity in their dense absorbent surfaces. These unconscious patterns of behaviour are echoed through the invisibly laborious repetitive process of counted-thread embroidery used to create the densely worked surfaces. With the cross stitched ‘antimacassar’ covers of Surface to Surface Support ref:962/398, there was a conscious reference to the woven moquette developed specifically for the transport industry and the broader legacies of textile within our industrial and cultural heritage.

See also:

  • Bristow, M (2007) Continuity of Touch - Textile as Silent Witness. In: Hemmings, J. (2012) The Textile Reader. Oxford: Berg.

  • Bristow, M. (2007) Materially Divided. In: Repeat Repeat, exhibition catalogue published to coincide with Repeat Repeat exhibition and Conference, University of Chester, 19th, 20th April 2007

5a surface to surface support ref. 962/398

5b - Surface to surface correspondence ref. 962/398