Exhibitions / News

Margate NOW 2019 – UYHFH  ‘Use Your Hands For Happiness’ 

This year The Turner Prize is coming to Margate. I am very pleased to be taking part in the 2019 Margate Festival which in response to the Turner Prize 2019 will run alongside, from 28 September 2019 – 12 January 2020. The overall theme of the festival this year is MargateNOW.

‘Use Your Hands For Happiness’ will be an installation of textile works utilising discarded fabrics and addresses the issue of textile waste and domestic making. The work for MargateNOW picks up on elements of my 2005  MA show, in which I attempted to highlight issues around textile waste. Sadly the throwaway practices of the fast fashion and interior textile industry have only increased over years since I was at the RCA. The manufacture and consumption of cheap and synthetic products has not abated and continues to present huge environmental challenges. Studies show that extending the life cycle of textiles will have significant benefits; so is it possible for all of us to make a difference by small actions of saving, mending, making and reuse?

As well as thoughts about textile waste the new works will celebrate of the everyday domestic practices of women like my grandmother Mabel Smith. She practiced her own kind of ‘thrifty creativity’ and her sewing and making inspired me at a very young age. Her influence on my practice as an artist has continued. She was an ordinary housewife and mother, who was very clever and magic to me. Her skills felt like a kind of power – I’m not saying she was a witch or anything, but she also had newts in her pond, so?

‘Use Your Hands For Happiness’ is a kind of call to action, much like the ‘Mend and Make Do’ we are more familiar with. It comes from the women’s magazines and ‘how to’ manuals of the 30’s – 50’s that I looked at as part of research I did at the Geffrye Museum  in 2007, for the Reflect Forward Award. At that time I had been collecting any half finished embroidery projects and vintage embroidery transfers that I came across in charity shops, and I used all this material together with the Geffrye Museum research, as a starting point for new artworks that celebrated the thrift and ingenuity of this kind of domestic making. U Y H F H , makes this call again, celebrating and questioning how we might use less and still have more?