Press release for The Knitting and Stitching Show, Harrogate, Nov. 2015

Lou Baker - The dark side of stitch

Lou Baker’s emotive, life-sized, hanging soft sculptures challenge the seemingly benign nature of traditional textile processes, creating an uneasy tension in aesthetics and evoking the abject. They excavate the possibilities of there being a dark side to the perceived notion of embroidery as a gendered, decorative, safe, clean, perfect and private pursuit. Using soft, impermanent, skin-like textiles in sculpture, with their associations with craft and the feminine, powerfully subverts traditional representations of the body and evokes its mortality, revealing alternative meanings in its folds and surfaces. 

Image: All the babies I might have had II, 2015, detail, leather, imitation leather, used clothing, hand knitted felt, zips; stitch, print

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I am thrilled to have been awarded the Embroiderers’ Guild Scholarship for Over 30s for this next year!

I have received £1000 to spend on materials and after my Degree show I will continue to develop my soft sculptures in line with my proposal. The Scholarship also gives me opportunities to exhibit at The Knitting and Stitching Shows in London and Harrogate in the autumn.  

I will then continue my research to produce a body of work to present to The Embroiderers’ Guild at their AGM in April 2016.

Nobodies is a series of three soft sculptures hanging from meat hooks and chains, which explore ways that cloth and stitch can evoke the abject in art.

The abject is the instinctive feeling of horror ‘to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between self and other’. It is that which inherently disturbs conventional identity and cultural concepts. For my dissertation I have researched the ways Christian Boltanski and Louise Bourgeois use empty second-hand clothing in their work to suggest a physical absence and ultimately, death, the most extreme abjection. Choosing to use cloth in sculpture can powerfully subvert traditional representations of the body.

Image: Nobodies, 2014, installed at Synecdoche, Embassy Tea Gallery, London, June

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