18 February – 28 February 2015
My art process is a collaboration between concept, making and passion, which is why the following quote has always resonated with me as I believe it embodies this philosophy:
Between the mind that plans and the hands that build there must be a Mediator, and this must be the heart.
Maria from the film Metropolis (1927)
Reconfigure is a series of wool collages that are experiments with assemblage. Construction of the collages emerge from an intuitive approach in which the found materials are cut, reconfigured and hand-stitched (instead of glued) into compositions that establish symbiotic relationships between texture, colour, pattern and form. Hints of narrative are also embedded in the composition through the use of clothing and care labels from the garments. Underlying the formalism of the work are the cultural signifiers associated with outmoded clothing and domestic textiles, which Newberry creatively repurposes. These works transform the intimate and familiar into an arresting synthesis of soft fabric and hard edge abstraction.
The artworks are predominantly constructed from recycled wool jumpers, cardigans and blankets collected from multiple sources. These used items come imbued with a history within their fibres. Therefore, the work addresses links to the body, cloth, identity, memory, ecology and sustainability. Each collage/assemblage becomes part of an elaborate concoction of narratives that enable the final artwork to take on a larger meaning through the agency of materials.
The strong blocks of colour and geometric shapes in textile form call to various artists of the Bauhaus, mainly that of Gunt Stoltz and Anni Albers as well as Dadaist Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Other influences can be drawn from artists Kurt Schwitters who developed his collages from found objects that created a commentary of his time and place. As curator Leah Dickerman of MOMA explains “he loved all the things tossed off in modern culture but he loved particularly the signs of wear and touch”. My collages also address things being tossed off in our ever increasing throw away society where garments are discarded readily. We presently lack the skills, time and desire to repair, mend or even re-wear items of clothing. When deconstructing the garments for use in my collages, every piece is utilised, with some of the small remnants being used in my strip works.
Like the artist Kurt Schwitters, I take everyday items and attempt to elevate and transform them into another sense of being. Beauty and interest is inherent in the common. As Schwitters wrote “I could not, in fact, see the reason why old tickets, driftwood, cloakroom tabs, wires, and parts of wheels, buttons and old rubbish found in attics and refuse dumps should not be a suitable material for painting as the paints made in factories.”