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Transition Member: Tara Kennedy

Textile Artists Tara Kennedy is interested in creating messages within her work originally being inspired by the unity of her mixed cultural heritage. The despair she feels of different cultures and religions suffering in conflict drives her to communicate important messages of acceptance, empathy and hope in her work. She feels it is possible through understanding these messages there could be more harmonious outcomes.

Her current body of work ‘Hope Emerging’, creates expressions of hope emerging from this pain. It is essential to her to that the context of her work leaves an impression on the  viewer, leaving them to contemplate and consider.

The materials she  uses are chosen for their tactile quality, seeking to create a comforting feeling. They include yarns, threads and fabrics and involve  techniques of knitting, wrapping, felting, knotting and stitch. Process is also significant  and references therapeutic, meditative  and calming practices.

She creates soft sculptures and wall hangings as well as detailed drawings. These drawings provide an alternative viewpoint and compliment her 3D work.

“Creates expressions of hope emerging from this pain.”

To encourage the viewer to engage with her work, she uses the imagery of cages, bundles and wrapped forms. The coloured yarns provide a metaphor to show the transformation from the  blood spilt and pain of suffering through graduated  tones to ivory conveying hope. Knots express tension,  wrapped bundles convey unity and cages suggest protection. 

Selected pieces from this collection have been exhibited at the James Hockey Gallery in Farnham, the Espacio Gallery and the Menier Gallery in London, St Marys Church in Purley-on Thames, The Old Fire Station Gallery in Henley-on-Thames, The Oxmarket gallery in Chichester, four of the knitting and Stritching shows in UK and the Workers Gallery in Ynyshir, Wales where she won the People Choice Award in their Home/Hope exhibition. Tara completed an MA in Textiles at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham in 2018  and is currently developing her practice with new areas of interest leading to the next body of work.

Artist Statement

The painful suffering from cultural conflict could transform and develop into hope through unity and empathy. My textile work started from a need to express the unity of my mixed cultural heritage. The despair I feel of different cultures and religions suffering in conflict drives me to communicate important messages of acceptance, empathy and hope in my work. It is possible through understanding these messages there could be more harmonious outcomes. 

My work is about creating expressions of hope emerging from this pain. It is essential to me to that the context of my work leaves an impression on the  viewer, leaving them to contemplate and consider, but it’s not essential to me they understand what it’s really about. People observe differently and I find it intriguing to hear their views and how it makes them feel.

The materials I use are chosen for their tactile quality, seeking to create a comforting feeling. They include various yarns, threads and fabrics with which I craft relevant textures. My techniques involve knitting, wrapping, felting, knotting and stitch, therefore my materials are usually of a soft and flexible nature. Process is also significant  and references therapeutic, meditative  and calming practices. I am motivated by the reaction I have from creating and making. I find the act of wrapping and binding not only produces feelings of wellbeing but adds to my concept of protection and healing.

 I create soft sculptures and wall hangings as well as detailed drawings. These drawings provide an alternative viewpoint and compliment my 3D work. To encourage the viewer to engage with my work, I use the imagery of cages, bundles and wrapped forms. The coloured yarns provide a metaphor to show the transformation from the  blood spilt and pain of suffering through graduated  tones to ivory conveying hope. Knots express tension,  wrapped bundles convey unity and cages suggest protection. 

Selected pieces from this collection have been exhibited at the Espacio Gallery in London, St Marys Church in Purley-on Thames, The Old Fire Station Gallery in Henley-on-Thames, The Menier Gallery, London, the Oxmarket, Chichester and the Workers Gallery in Ynyshir, Wales where I won the People Choice Award in their Home/Hope exhibition. Another piece was exhibited at 4 exhibitions in UK and Ireland, including the NEC Birmingham, in the Vlieseline Fine Art Textile Award as part of the Knit and Stitch shows. I am currently in the process of experimenting with some different materials as a contrast to the soft textures. So far I have explored the use of ceramic and metal pieces and will continue to develop these ideas.

My practice as an artist continues to evolve with new areas of interest leading to the next body of work. This includes creating work following a Textile residency in Iceland where I started to create work in response to the landscape. I am using mostly Icelandic materials including raw sheep’s wool, horse hair, fish skins and Icelandic wools, some of which I hand dyed with Icelandic plants. This work will be shown in a group exhibition along with three other Textile artists that I went with.

Materials

My textile art concerns conceptual themes that I have an emotional connection with. Depending on the subject of the work informs what materials I choose, although I am drawn to some materials more than others. This current body of work is about the despair I feel of different cultures and religions suffering in conflict which drives me to communicate important messages of acceptance, empathy and hope emerging from this pain. Therefore the materials are chosen for their tactile quality to help express feelings of comfort and protection.

“Therefore the materials are chosen for their tactile quality to help express feelings of comfort and protection.”

 

 

 They are mostly soft materials that have a warm and soothing quality.  I also find the process of making significant in creating feelings of comfort and wellbeing and the techniques I use of wrapping and tying further enhance these sensations. The materials I use are mostly mixed yarns, threads, carded wools and fabrics and sometimes I add other contrasting matter. I try to use mostly sustainable materials but I often use recycled textiles or materials form my store cupboard that were left or donated to me. I like the idea of using something that would otherwise have been thrown away, even if it’s just something used for stuffing. It adds a personal touch even if I’m the only one that knows about it.

New Materials

I mostly use soft materials and try to use sustainable or recycled matter as much as possible. Recently I have been experimenting with adding contrasting materials to the soft ones to help express the contrasting concepts of suffering and hope. I have been using wire for quite some time but normally it’s hidden on the inside where it’s used to make a part flexible. I decided to use it on the outside and wrap with it which I would normally do with yarn. I then used them together, wrapping lengths fist with yarn and then wrapping over the top with wire. This has created a different look than I would normally use, more severe and harsh expressing a tightening constricting feeling. It contrasts well against the soft yarn that is trapped inside helping to create the concept of suffering.

I have also started to experiment with clay, which again it is a good contrast to my usual soft materials. My husband is a ceramic artists and I collaborated with him to make my ‘ Vessel of Hope’ piece. It’s is a ceramic vessel with dents and blisters which I attached knotted and wrapped yarn pieces to. I was very pleased with the outcome so I decided to experiment some more. We made some ivory clay buds that attach to the ends of wrapped yarn lengths representing hope growing or flowing from the suffering. I normally use something soft to express hope as it’s a comforting expression but I felt clay as a material would make a good form for a bud shape. I like that it’s a different texture next to the rest of the artwork making more of a focal point for the subject matter.

I am currently experimenting with using barbed wire alongside the yarn as this is another contrasting material which is a very good expression of pain and suffering.

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