A while ago I read a comment in one of the blogs I follow, that the majority of the textiles, in an exhibition the writer had visited, were not framed, but just ‘pinned to the wall’. This resonated with me because I have always had reservations about framing textile pieces. Partly because it’s expensive and I’m a cheapskate, but more because I think framing rarely does textiles justice. Apart from the problem of reflections, so often the box and the glazing disguise and obscure the tactility and 3D-ness of the textiles. I quite like the technique of attaching them to a box frame, but then you are restricted by the sizes of box frames which are available.
This morning we visited one our favourite galleries with rather nice coffee shops attached. The exhibition included several felt pieces, most of which were framed. Although reflections weren’t a problem in this gallery, I still thought that the few which weren’t framed looked more interesting: the haptic appeal of the felt was more evident, and those pieces didn’t seem confined, as the framed ones did.
I also remembered a tutorial discussion, about framing textiles, with a (non textile) tutor at university. I didn’t take much notice of it at the time, because if you are making giant gloves, you don’t even consider framing them. But one of the questions he raised was whether people who work in textiles frame their work because, traditionally, pictures are framed – and pictures are, in some people’s minds, ‘real art’. So by framing a textile piece we may be trying to position it in the that context.
Thinking back, none of my colleagues in the textile group at university did frame their degree show work – and I don’t think any of the painters did either. And in the gallery this morning, I think the only work which was framed, apart from the textiles, were prints of water colours by Prince Charles, and drawings by Queen Victoria. Make of that what you will.
So now I’m thinking about revisiting my ‘Year of Stitches’ pieces, and considering what I might need to do to them if they were to be displayed ‘pinned to the wall’ – assuming I found a gallery which would let me do that!