Lead artist Processions banner

I lead a workshop in Oxford to make a Processions 2018 banner for OVADA in Oxford. The Processions 2018 event was held on 10th July in London to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage.

We wanted to involve OVADA’s associate artists and asked them to provide black and white images of strong women, through their families, as the starting point for the banner.

We held the workshop on a day during the Dawn Rose Red festival as a drop in for associate artists to contribute towards the making of the banner. They embroidered letters, painted the background, stitched and ironed.

On 10th June we took the processions 2018 banner to London. Over 30,000 women marched from Hyde Park to Parliament Square.

it was an amazing day to be part of and I am very proud of all the hard work that was put into our fantastic banner.

‘Lie Down’ installation at City of Oxford College

Every year “White Armband Day” takes place on 31 May, the anniversary of the start of the campaign of ethnic cleansing which took place in the town of Prijedor, northern Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Bosnian Serb authorities issued a decree on local radio ordering all non-Serb citizens to mark their houses with white flags or bedsheets and to wear white armbands when leaving the house. This began campaign of extermination.

To mark this anniversary I have been given the opportunity to exhibit ‘Lie Down’ within the entrance to the art department at City of Oxford College for 4 weeks during their end of year shows and the run up to the end of the summer term.

This is a fantastic opportunity to reach a new audience some of whom may have been around in 1995 but would have been too young to know anything about the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It is on display until 22nd June.

Community Champion

Last month I was selected as the Remembering Srebrenica Community Champion of the month for February. I am really excited and extremely proud of this recognition.

“Each month the team at Remembering Srebrenica selects a ‘Community Champion of the Month’ to celebrate the inspiring work of our fantastic supporters across the UK. Community Champions for the 11 months preceding July will be invited to light a candle of remembrance at the UK Srebrenica Memorial Service in July.

We are delighted to announce that February’s Community Champion of the Month is Katie Taylor!

Katie is a contemporary textiles artist from Oxford who attended a ‘Lessons from Srebrenica’ delegation to Bosnia last year. Her work was shown in a recent exhibition, disPLACED, which took place at the P21 Gallery in London, and showcased her powerful and thought-provoking new piece, ‘Lie Down’. Over the course of three weeks, hundreds of people had the opportunity to engage with Srebrenica thanks to her work.

‘Lie Down’ was a thoroughly creative and original way to get people to think about the horror of genocide. The piece, made by rags soaked in coffee, represented the countless ligatures used to detain prisoners and echoed the white armbands that Bosnian Muslims were forced to wear, while its height of 150cm references the height at which boys were sent away with their fathers. Katie said that the act of ripping up material made her ask herself, “Whose job had it been to create the blindfolds and fabric ligatures? Had they considered and known of their intended use?” By examining the genocide in this way, the audience were invited to think about those who are complicit in genocide. Images of ‘Lie Down’ can be viewed here and Katie also plans to mark Srebrenica Memorial Week with a new exhibition.

Everyone at Remembering Srebrenica would like to thank Katie for her hard work in using her talent to bring the lessons from Srebrenica to a whole new audience.”

disPLACED exhibition

I am excited to have had 3 pieces of work accepted for the following exhibition

disPLACED at P21 Gallery, London

Private View: Friday 19th January 2018, 18:00 – 20:00

Exhibition Dates: 20th January – 10th February 2018

 

Curators: CARU | Contemporary Arts ReSearch Unit

 

Artists:  Alissar McCreary, Janice Howard, Robin James, Ray Hedger, Katie Taylor, Alex Newton, Fiona Harvey, Anna Yearwood, Aldobranti andBlanca Rodriguez Beltran …as well as those who participated in the disPLACED workshops.

Contemporary Arts ReSearch Unit presents a group exhibition in the beautiful P21 gallery. The show includes a solo exhibition by Lebanese artist Alissar McCreary, which showcases her practice-based PhD research.

Upstairs on the ground floor, the exhibition brings together artists whose work evokes a wide range of responses to the title theme ‘disPLACED’. The works include photography, video, painting, prints, sculpture, as well as an accumulative installation of small figurines made by the public. Visitors are invited to create and add their own little person to the installation.

Downstairs, Alissar McCreary presents the culmination of her seven-year research into her experience of displacement as a Lebanese refugee. Her PhD, titled “Hybrid Residues/Memories: Utilising active participation within sculptural art practice as a direct form of communication to implicate experiences of war and displacement.”, explores the reciprocity between art, active participation, and traced memories of displacement. ‘The aim of my research is to examine what American philosopher and artist David Abram calls ‘sensorial empathy’. In my thesis I have appropriated the term and redefined it as the ‘silent sense’. I interpret this ‘silent sense’ as a kind of connection or ‘knowing’ that we intuitively recognise but cannot always articulate or express with language. I am interested in how and when sensorial empathy takes place, and how it might affect the viewer’s perception of the displacement which is happening every day to millions of people in the world.’

I will be showing the following three pieces of work:

 

Lie Down

Lie Down Art exploring Bosnian war
Lie Down Art exploring Bosnian war

During the beginning stages of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many Bosnian Muslims were required to wear a white arm band and hang a white flag/sheet on their houses to set them apart from their neighbours. This piece of work is made from strips of white sheets and tablecloths to directly reference this.

Muslim men from women were later separated, boys were often selected and separated based on their height. Boys smaller than 150cm were allowed to remain with their mothers whilst those above 150cm had to leave with their fathers and were certainly sent to their death. This piece of work is hung at exactly 150cm.

The lower section of the work is naturally dyed in coffee. Coffee is a strong symbol of community in Bosnia and Herzegovina . Before the war, citizens would all drink coffee together whether Muslim, Serb or Croat. After the war many Bosnian Muslims attempted to move back to their homes, only to find another family had moved in. They were often offered coffee in their own cups.

The piece of work is the width of human body and extends onto the floor referencing burial / mass graves / shrouds and death. It is titled ‘Lie Down’, the last words spoken to many, before being shot.

During the discovery of mass graves and the search for individual identity within them, Forensic teams exhumed cloth ligatures and blindfolds across all of the mass grave sites at Srebrenica. These ligatures and blind folds were often from the same fabric source and this evidence was used during the Hague trials to show a level of organization and proof of Genocide. All the strips of cloth here are tied as if used for this purpose.

The process behind this work:

Exhibited

‘Lie Down’ exploring the Bosnian War

This piece of work, still unfinished, explores the process of the Bosnian war.

  1. Muslims were expected to wear a white arm band and hang a white flag from their houses.
  2. Boys 150cm or below allowed to remain with their mothers. Above 150cm they were sent with their fathers, almost certainly to their death.
  3. Coffee is a symbol of Bosnian community, but here symbolizes the break down of community.
  4. The piece eventually spreads across the floor as a reference to mass graves / shrouds / death.
  5. The title ‘Lie Down’ refers to the last words spoken to many Bosniaks before being shot.

 

Lie Down Art exploring the Bosnian War Blindfolds

Artistic process

Whilst working on this current piece, I have been aware that the artistic process itself has become as important as the initial ideas and the finished piece. Almost like a performance piece the act of making has added meaning to the finished work.

Tearing fabric strip

Whilst tearing the strips I considered who had actually torn the fabric for the Serb army. Whose job had it been to create the blindfolds and fabric ligatures? Had they considered and known of their intended use?
I do know that some of the blindfolds and ligatures were possibly scraps from a manufacturing process, these were collected and used in bulk. Others however would have had to have been produced.

 

Exhuming the work

To dye and stain the knotted fabric, I have used waste coffee from a local cafe ‘The Missing Bean’ along with a combination of other dye stuffs and rusty iron. The whole piece was left for a week and was then uncovered to discover the effects.

This uncovering had a very visceral sense of exhumation. The act of burial was an important aspect of the process for this piece of work, but the uncovering too became important as well.

It is these aspects that often only become apparent during the artistic process itself and aren’t always part of the planning.

For this piece, particularly, the importance of these elements is poignant. A whole new level of conceptual meaning has been added.

Bosnia’s blindfolds

Developing ideas from research I have started to tie ideas about Bosnia’s blindfolds together.

  • The arm bands lead to blindfolds
  • Coffee brought communities together but later dove them apart.
  • Distant images of mass graves can look like knots

 

Bosnia's blindfolds research and experimentation
Left: Bosnian Mass Grave image Right: knotted cloth dyed in coffee

 

Bosnia's Blindfolds Knots Planning
Mind map of ideas

I want the ideas to act rather like a timeline within the piece:

  • Men and boys over 150 cm separated from women and boys smaller than 150 cm.
  • All Muslims required to wear a white armband and hang a white flag or sheet from their homes, so that they could be identified.
  • Blindfolded and with hands tied behind their backs the men and boys were executed, and buried in mass graves.
  • Intermingled and piled together these bodies / parts needed to be identified.

 

Bosnia's blindfolds Knots Planning
Sketchbook thoughts for finished piece of work

Bosnia's blindfolds sculptural textile installation
Initial coffee and rust dyed sample next to a sample of knotted white cotton

Bosnia's blindfolds sculptural textile installation detail
Knotted white cotton with details

Bosnia's blindfolds sculptural textile installation
Knotted section created from looped (blindfold) sections

Bosnia's blindfolds sculptural textile installation
Test photo in studio space to assess size and visual impact

 

  • The piece is fixed at 150 cm high as a reference to the height point for boys being selected to stay with their mother or not.
  • White loose arm bands start the piece with details of whitework embroidered family initials. This addition gives a reminder of the personal nature of events.
  • Body width as a reference to a grave, coffin or shroud.
  • Knotted from loops of fabric strips as the blindfolds would have been.
  • Knotted together, intermingled creating a mass of knots each individual. reference to a mass grave.

 

Within Mass graves, forensic anthropologists found many blindfolds and ligatures. It was noted that many appeared to be very similar. Sent away to a forensic lab in  The Netherlands, Chemist S. E. Maljaars drew up a report for the Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

http://icr.icty.org – item no: ACE70222R2000312540

In her analysis, the Dutch forensic expert showed that the bodies from the primary grave, where the victims executed at that location were initially buried, were transferred to several secondary graves. The pieces of the same fabric were thus found in two or more locations.

The evidence also helped to prove a level of organisation during events and therefore was part of the evidence that proved Genocide rather than mass murder.

http://www.sense-agency.com/icty/blindfolds-tell-a-tale.29.html?news_id=15175

This piece is ongoing as I develop it further. I intend to continue with the knotting as well as dye it with coffee grounds and iron.

 

19th Mini Textiles Exhibition – Bratislava

19th Mini Textiles Umelka Bratislava

I currently have two pieces of work in the 19th Mini Textiles Exhibition at Umelka in Bratislava, Slovakia. I was excited to be able to make the Private view on Wednesday 31st May.

The exhibition includes the work of 56 international textile artists and 22 students selected from 135 applicants. It is an exciting opportunity to be included.

19th Mini Textiles Umelka Bratislava

Visitors to the Mini Textiles Exhibition

19th Mini Textiles Umelka Bratislava

Sum

One of the two pieces of min exhibited within the exhibition.

19th Mini Textiles Umelka Bratislava Katie Taylor Sum

Sum and Lay Waste

19th Mini Textiles Umelka Bratislava Katie Taylor

A lovely after show meet up, was arranged for all the exhibiting artists. This was a wonderful opportunity to make contacts and connections and I was invited to a graduate fashion show the following evening.

Bratislava Graduate Fashion Show