Hidden Message – Working in Series

Hidden Message 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11

Hidden Message 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 11

The new Etcetera exhibition opens at Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery this Saturday and runs to 15th October. There is a preview between 7 and 9pm tomorrow (Friday 9th) if you are in the area and want to stop by.

I am showing these pieces from my Hidden Message series. There are four small tiles stretched over canvas and two quilts. Hidden Message was the first time that I intentionally decided to create a series of pieces from one source of inspiration. It has been an interesting learning curve – my starting point came from trips to Shanghai and the really bizarre cultural conflict between modern, urban China and it’s one-party politics. My initial ideas involved bright colours, teapots, brand names and neon advertising signs. I made one piece, called No Time for Tea, which I loved but felt absolutely no desire to progress.

Instead I switched to a complex, muted colour family, broken fragments of skyscrapers and fabrics printed with words associated with censorship. I created two large pieces. Hidden Message 2 was originally 12 separate sections stitched onto a fabric background and Hidden Message 3 was originally 4 banners joined at the top. Both of these pieces were eventually cut into separate tiles, stretched over canvas and shown in the Etcetera exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum earlier this year.

I kept working in this complex colourway eventually creating the Hidden Message Skyscrapers set of 8 panels. But I also decided to try out the fragmented structure and patterns in a restricted colour palette of shades of grey and red. The resulting pieces have always felt like odd-balls. They just don’t ‘work’ if I put them alongside other pieces from the series. At one stage I was considering throwing them away but I’m glad I didn’t. The exhibition in Stockport has given me the opportunity to hang them together and to assess them away from the other pieces in the series. They are their own little mini-series!

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