Highlights’ Contemporary Craft Tour mirrors the strengths of the performing arts rural touring scheme. This tours high-quality theatre, music and dance to isolated rural communities that would not otherwise have the opportunity to see work of that standard without travelling substantial distances.
The Contemporary Craft Tour aims to provide rural communities with access to highquality craft that is usually only accessible in urban areas. The tour uses the existing network of venues and volunteer promoters. It takes place in May and June at the end of the performing arts season and is scheduled to take advantage of two Bank Holiday weekends.
Highlights was originally approached by the North Pennine Arts Working Group to incorporated ‘Designed for the Dales’ into its annual programme and to look at ways of developing the project to run alongside the existing performing arts programme. In 2004, we ran a pilot contemporary Craft Tour – ‘Out of the Wood’ – which explored the demand for contemporary crafts and assessed how such a project would fit in with our performing arts programme. The pilot was very successful, achieving higher numbers of visitors than anticipated and selling more work than expected. In 2006, we ran our second touring exhibition – ‘Metal’; in 2007 we toured weaving in the ‘Taking up the Thread’ exhibition, and we toured contemporary knitting in our ‘Knit 2gether’ exhibition in 2008. ‘Paper Trail’ explored the 3-dimensional properties of paper in 2009.
This year’s tour, ‘Thrift & Thread’ – Contemporary Heirlooms by Mandy Pattullo, our first Craft Tour by a solo artist, explored the theme of recycling through textiles, looking to a past age of thriftiness, of make-do-and-mend. Mandy Pattullo, a Newcastle based artist, is passionate about sharing traditional skills in sewing with a new generation, about revaluing the ‘home-made’ and encouraging the reworking of old and discarded textiles (See ‘Thrift & Thread’ Further Information)
As a complete antidote to ‘throw away’ culture, the workshops organised in the run up to and during the exhibition, refashioned fabric, clothes, socks, gloves and hats into garments and toys to be worn, played with and would tell their own story through dance, with the support of Virginia Kennedy, a dance and drama specialist. The exhibition and objects made by children and community groups certainly unravelled tales of cherished moments and memories to inspire movement through dance and play to with identity. The resulting exhibition of work by Mandy Pattullo as well as the work made by local schools and community groups, displayed alongside, was very successful in creating and rekindling new interest in old textiles, and prompting visitor reminiscences.
Thrift & Thread’ Further Information
Artist’s Work – Mandy Pattullo
Mandy has a 1st Class degree in International Textiles and Surface Pattern. She is interested in the decorative, textural and colour possibilities within creating textiles and the way stitch can be used to create marks in the same way as drawing. Background research into a process or concept is key and then she uses drawing, sampling and photography to get her going. She primarily uses hand and machine stitching combined with applique, quilting and print.
In recent years she has rediscovered hand stitching and is an advocate of slow design. After 20 years of working with textiles Mandy has accumulated a huge amount of fabric and inspirational “stuff” which surrounds her in her attic studio at The Hearth, Horsley, Northumberland. Her artfully arranged collection of tools and threads, piles of vintage fabric and her pin boards are a mass of colourful images and postcards which inspire her work. Much of what she surrounds herself with is inherited from past generations of sewing women.
For this exhibition Mandy has looked to a past age of thriftiness and make do and mend. Her aim was to create pieces which would make the viewer look again at old textiles which might be past their use by date. She is particularly passionate about very worn old patchwork quilts which were often made of old dressmaking off-cuts, old clothing and tailor’s samples. Mandy has carefully re-examined the quilts, often unpicking them completely into their original scraps, and to discover hidden layers and sometimes even other worn quilts inside. She is interested in the shadows and marks that appear when she takes apart other women’s stitches and also the effect of light, wear and tear on the fabrics. Many of the quilts in this exhibition were too worn and tattered to be functional on a bed but have been re–valued by being made into unique garments or hangings.