Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Peace and quiet

Every so often I need to go home and get some peace. So on the spur of the moment, I came home to North Wales briefly this weekend. I've had a quiet weekend away from the city - I've been with my dog and my folks, and I revisited the places I grew up in, including the first house I lived in when I was a baby in Rhewl.

I also went to Ruthin Craft Centre. There's a beautiful exhibition there at the moment by the jeweller Kevin Coates, and an embroidery exhibition exploring identity, Construct, featuring work by eight textile artists.

I also rediscovered the work of artist Rozanne Hawksley (it's not on display but she has exhibited there in the past).

She approaches sad and difficult subject matter, like war, death and violence, and communicates them through craft, which is sometimes undermined as a medium. The materials she uses are fragile, tactile and sometimes disturbing - lace, leather, bones and animal skeletons - but she transforms them into something enchanting and also very powerful. She appears to handle everything with great care and sensitivity, which I think gives her work more impact. Some artists will go all out to shock, or to spell things out to the viewer, but Rozanne's work manages to shock and affect you deeply and profoundly without ever giving the impression that that is what she was desperate to achieve - it's effortless. 

I thought her work was particularly poignant now, as this is the centenary year of the First World War. One of her most famous pieces, Pale Armistice (see the picture above), is a haunting commemoration and subtle anti-war statement, and is on permanent display at the Imperial War Museum in London. I've not seen it in real life, but every time I see a picture of it I can't help staring at the soft, white, featherlike gloves resting gently on top of each other, forever going round and round in their wreath. Looking at it brings another sense of peace, I suppose. 

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