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Transition Member: Tara Kennedy

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Textile Artist Tara Kennedy is interested in creating messages within her work, originally being inspired by the unity of her mixed cultural heritage. The despair 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 arising 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.

“Expressions of hope emerging
from this pain.”

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

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.

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. 

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

Tara’s textile art concerns conceptual themes that she has an emotional connection with. The subject of the work informs what materials she chooses, although she is drawn to some materials more than others. This current body of work is about the despair she feels of different cultures and religions suffering in conflict. Therefore, the materials are chosen for their tactile quality to help express feelings of comfort and protection.

 

Tara’s textile art concerns conceptual themes that she has an emotional connection with. The subject of the work informs what materials she chooses, although she is drawn to some materials more than others. This current body of work is about the despair she feels of different cultures and religions suffering in conflict. 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.  She also finds the process of making significant, in creating feelings of comfort and wellbeing and the techniques she uses of wrapping and tying further enhance these sensations. The materials she uses are mostly mixed yarns, threads, carded wools and fabrics and sometimes she adds other contrasting matter. Tara tries to use mostly sustainable materials but she often uses recycled textiles or materials form her store cupboard that were left or donated to her. She likes 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 she is the only one that knows about it.

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

New Materials

She mostly uses soft materials and tries to use sustainable or recycled matter as much as possible. Recently, Tara has been experimenting with adding contrasting materials to the soft ones to help express the contrasting concepts of suffering and hope. She has been using wire for quite some time, but normally it’s hidden on the inside where it’s used to make a part flexible. She decided to use it on the outside and wrap with it, which she would normally do with yarn. She then uses them together, wrapping lengths fist with yarn and then wrapping over the top with wire. This has created a different look than she 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.

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

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