I’ve been an avid devourer of crime fiction and tv crime dramas since I was 11 or 12 years old…. I blame my mother, who was a keen fan and allowed me to watch her favourite 70’s detective dramas Columbo and Kojak.
You might expect an exhibition inspired by a love of crime dramas and tartan noire fiction to contain work which was inspired by crimes and their detection. I did consider how we might do this but, in the end, realised I wanted to share the maker’s story – influences, inspiration, how they make and what tools and materials they use.
This really crystallized my belief that this would be an exhibition in which the interpretation materials were as important as the pieces to be exhibited. As a result, Exhibit ‘A’ has two elements; one gallery contains the work without the usual exhibitor name and title labels and the other, interconnected space contains a series of 2d & 3d displays or incident boards… the viewer turns detective to match the board with the work on display – ah ha, at last the link to crime dramas and tartan noir!
Exhibitions come together over a period of time; a loose concept becomes clear through a process of desk-based research, talking to colleagues and working with artists, designers and makers. There’s also an inexplicable alchemy involved; unpacking the exhibition pieces from artists and makers working in very different disciplines and with varied approaches to craft, I’m so often struck by the ‘magic’ that happens when individual objects selected are hung in the space. Technically, aesthetically and conceptually diverse pieces of work come together, producing a visually cohesive and inspirational collection of contemporary craft.
The exhibitors have been selected for their differing approaches, techniques, skills and innovation. There’s a wealth of practitioners to choose from who have Scottish heritage, are Scottish-based or have been trained in Scotland; our exhibiting artists represent the highest standards of ‘thinking through making’ which underpins contemporary craft practice.
Without giving too much away (you really must come and turn craft detective) the exhibition contains swooping, wall-based bird forms which seem to hurtle towards a beautiful egg-shaped vessel containing other bird motifs below; there’s another imposing wall-based piece which combines basket-weaving techniques with discarded plastics.
In a departure from the designer-maker’s usual scale, two large textile woven wall pieces incorporating padded repeat patterns hang elegantly in the space whilst an ethereal and haunting composition of doll-like figures – suspended, fragile yet strongly bound with stories just out of reach – create a contrasting but complementary display.
There are vessels which contrast the domestic with the industrial, offsetting the soft malleable qualities of one material with the hardness and robustness of another; wearable art is represented by art form pieces which act as visual communicators. Our final exhibit is almost like a ‘shape shifter’; as you walk round it, it’s dark, smokey form changes from a cube to a cone – to somewhere in between!
The ‘hunt for clues’ has re-enforced my admiration for the dedication and sheer persistence required to sustain both makers and their practice; I’m hugely grateful to have had the opportunity to visit their studios (often within their homes). Equally grateful to Fife Contemporary for the opportunity to work with them in bringing this ‘craft whodunnit’ to Dunfermline Carneigie Library & Galleries.